Sunday, July 17, 2011

The City of Bridges

Pittsburgh is known as the "City of Bridges", and for good reason; there are 446 of them just within the city limits. That isn't counting the numerous others in Allegheny County. Now, you know how I feel about bridges, and if you don't, THIS will remind you.

This weekend we attended a wedding at the John Heinz History Center in downtown Pittsburgh. What a beautiful venue for a wedding!

The beautiful bride, Lauren

The ceremony would prove to be short and sweet.

Because there were two weddings taking place Saturday evening, we weren't allowed to tour the exhibits, which was a shame. It is a wonderful exploration of the city's past as the center of steel production in this country, as well as its role in sports and arts history.

When we lived in the Pittsburgh area from 1995 to 2000, I had the opportunity to tour the museum when it first opened, and it was fascinating. I also had the opportunity to be scared out of my mind about driving in Pittsburgh. Our son Josh was attending the Art Institute of Pittsburgh, and for some reason missed the last bus to make his connection to the neighboring county where we lived. He called me for a ride home. Having ridden with David several times into the city, I knew what I was up against...the many streets and highways and interstates that converge in a relatively small area make a bowl of spaghetti look like a bunch of straight lines. If you happen to get in the wrong lane, it's hard to tell where you might end up.

So, I plotted my driving strategy with my trusty pre-GPS city map, wrote down my directions, and headed out with only a few heart palpitations. In about 30 minutes, the palpitations turned into thudding heartbeats and sweaty palms. I'm sure you can guess that I chose the wrong lane and ended up crossing one of the dreaded bridges, which led directly to a dreaded tunnel, but I turned before the tunnel and ended up on Mt. Washington.

Though it offers a stunning view of the confluence of the Allegheny River and the Monongahela River to create the Ohio River, it was not a balm to my troubled soul, not in the least. Luckily, it was not the pre-cellphone era, and I called David at his office, which was not downtown. Crying and hiccuping, I explained to him what happened and that I was too scared to even attempt to find my way back across the river, fearing that I would end up in an even worse mess. David talked me down "off the bridge", so to speak, and said he would go pick up poor Josh, who no doubt was wondering what in the world had happened to his mother, and then he would come and lead me down off Mt. Washington.

After that experience, it was a year or more before I would even attempt to drive into the city again, but my friend Lynn finally convinced me I had to conquer my fears and went with me to help. She wasn't much better at it than I was, but at least I didn't feel all alone. We went several times to the Strip District, where we bought wonderful Italian cheeses and breads and other yummy goodies. We also had excursions to the Frick Art & Historical Museum and to the Phipps Conservatory.

Today, David and I took a walkabout downtown and to Point State Park (shown above in the MW view). This is my take on the confounding, but beautiful, bridges of Pittsburgh...a few of them anyway.

The view from our hotel room (right across the street from the History Center) looking out toward the Allegheny River.

The dreaded Fort Pitt Bridge and tunnel on the far end. Mt. Washington is above.

Mt. Washington skyline. In the right third of the picture, you can faintly see the incline.

Visible in this picture are four driving/pedestrian bridges across the Allegheny River, plus a railroad trestle. In the foreground, is the Roberto Clemente Bridge (6th St. Bridge), next is the Andy Warhol (7th St. Bridge) and the Rachel Carson (9th St. Bridge). Allegheny Landing Park has bike and walking paths along both sides of the river.

From the north side of the Allegheny, looking toward downtown.

PNC Park, which replaced the old Three Rivers Stadium, home of the Pittsburgh Pirates.  The building in the river houses River Rescue, made famous in the movie "Striking Distance"

Loved the reflection of other buildings caught in this all-glass building.

I love the way the center of the building is open.

The architecture in Pittsburgh is interesting and diverse. This building resembles one of the many Russian Orthodox and Greek Orthodox churches in the city.

If you have never visited Pittsburgh, put it on your bucket list. There is much to explore and many bridges to cross.


Judy said...

the pictures are beautiful, I am glad David was there to drive you... I know what you mean about bridges, i hold my breath every time i go across them. I am also glad you had a good time... love and hugs, sweet sister

Ruth said...

The original bridge to nowhere! But wow what a beautiful nowhere. That is a gorgeous view!

The wedding must have been beautiful, I love weddings in cool downtown venues like that. Very posh.

Your story is incredible. And I thought driving through Cincinnati was bad! And that's not even trying to get off at an exit.

These are fabulous photos, of buildings and bridges, lady. I keep hearing great things about Pittsburgh, one of the few places we can look to with hope these days. I can see it now!

Deborah said...

I wouldn't have imagined that Pittsburgh would be that interesting or pretty. I just think 'steel', but in the last while I've been reading about Pennsylvania in general and realizing I had quite a narrow view of the place.

Your Mount Washinton story reminds me of the first time I drove into Paris - I eeded to go to the Canadian embassy with my 3 month-old firstborn to register him.
I was scared sh**less of going around the Arc de Triomphe traffic circle (in which incoming traffic has the right-of-way, unlike most other traffic circles here) my husband said 'Just don't look left as you enter it - keep your eyes straight ahead and just GO!'

It worked. We got out alive even though baby was screaming his head off. After that I loved driving in Paris!

Lovely to read something of yours after a long dry spell. Food for the soul.

Susan said...

Sweetest sister, I'm glad he was there to drive me, too!! He will have to admit that even he was confused trying to get out of town and on the right highway when it was time to leave yesterday, even with GPS (she was a little confused for a while).

Thank you! XOXOXO

Susan said...

Ruthie, this is actually the twin to the "Bridge to Nowhere", which is the Fort Duquesne Bridge. It's called that because it took forever to finish construction. Fort Pitt crosses the Monongahela, and Fort Duquesne crosses the Allegheny.

Yep, Cincinnati driving is comparable to Pittsburgh, both of them being on the river(s) and being old, old cities. I think Pittsburgh wins for the most complicated highway system though.

The city has lots of ethnic boroughs, too, like NYC. It's a lot of fun to explore.

Thank you!

I can see a visit to P'burgh in our near future! An extended girls' weekend, maybe? Or better yet, a couples' weekend...then the guys can do the driving. :)

Susan said...

Deb, now that's what I call brave! Driving in Paris? OMG! No way could I do that. Not even David has been brave enough to try it. And, of course, the baby was screaming...that just added to the drama. lol

Pennsylvania is a beautiful state and so diverse in its culture and history. It's probably our favorite of the states we've lived in, so far. Come for a visit, and I just might work up the nerve to take you there. :)

ds said...

Wow, Susan, your photos make Pittsburgh look absolutely stunning! Quite a change from when I was there in the eighties, once for a wedding & once to visit a friend. Then it seemed a bit ominous; now, it's a Renaissance town...

Barb said...

Hi Susan, I liked your tour of Pittsburg. That yellow Clemente bridge reminds me a bit of the Tower Bridge in Sacramento (where I often visit). I like a city with diverse architecture - I think it's more visually interesting.

Anonymous said...

We vistited Pittsburgh about 5 years ago and I really thought it was a beautiful city. I took lots of pictures of all of the cool buildings and they are still some of my favorites. We took the Ducky tour and that was a fun way to see the area as well.
Your driving story is one that I think most of us can relate to. Somehow Jason never feels my utter panic when I call him, lost and confused. You are lucky that David understood yours :)

Susan said...

ds, thank you! I wish I had had more time to go to other streets and neighborhoods there. This was just a teeny-tiny part. Of course, like any city in the 4-seasons climate, it looks its best in summer with all the trees and the flowers in bloom.

Susan said...

Hi Barb! I agree with you about's what makes the city. All of the bridges in Pittsburgh are painted that bright yellow. It's their thing, I guess. Cincinnati has it's "Purple People" bridge and Pittsburgh has it's yellow ones!

Susan said...

Stacy, I always wanted to do the Ducky tour!! We never got around to it. Maybe next time I'm there...

You live a little closer to Pittsburgh than we do. Did you get to tour any of the museums while you were there? For some reason, we never made it to the Andy Warhol, so I need to rectify that someday.

Panic is a good word for driving in Pittsburgh! I finally was able to sort of find my way to certain areas there, but I was never comfortable doing it. I don't know if the GPS would make much of a difference, or not. She had a rough time finding her bearings when we were trying to get out of the city. lol

Oliag said...

I never really thought of Pittsburgh as being a place I wanted to visit but now you just may have changed my mind...although I won't be doing the driving that's for sure! The story of your trip up Mt Washington had me laughing (but in a good way). David is a sweetie! Your photos are wonderful! The bride is beautiful!

Don't even think of driving in Boston...I have cried driving on those streets more than once!

I haven't been able to be online much this summer and miss keeping up with my friends...Hope you are having a wonderful summer and are staying cool!

Susan said...

Dear Oliag! I know what you mean about keeping up....I've been awful at it for months and months. I'm surprised I still have any blog friends left. ;(

Pittsburgh is a wonderful city! If you ever decide to visit, let me know and I will meet you there. It's only a 4 hour drive for me.

Believe me, I would never attempt Boston driving! The one time we were there, I kept my eyes closed when we were in the car...OMG! Crazy drivers! LOL

Judy said...

I was there once.... I enjoyed all your pictures!

Ruth said...

What on earth are those flowers in the middle of your gorgeous header?

Susan said...

Thank you, Judy!

Susan said...

Thank you, Ruthie! And those are Chinese lanterns.

Kathleen said...

Sounds and looks as though you had a wonderful adventure! I've never been to PA but your pictures sure make me want to move it up my list of states to visit! What a lovely bride! Don't you just love a good wedding?

Dutchbaby said...

Gorgeous header, Susan, especially that variegated Abuliton in the center.

Whoever the bride is, she's gorgeous. Her simple satin gown shows off her natural beauty and grace.

Love your bridge story. I once had to call my hubby in a panic when I took a wrong turn and ended up in a dead end with huge gravel yard. I personally love bridges. I commuted across the Golden Gate Bridge for three years and never grew tired of the beauty of the bridge, The City, and the Marin Headlands. I still love it every time I cross it to visit my sister.

Congratulations for conquering your fears and going back in to face the music.

Anonymous said...

Congrats to the bride and groom.

I can get lost at the drop of a hat. I'm never confident when going somewhere the first time.

I have a dear friend who's terrified of bridges. We lived in the Annapolis area of Maryland. Lots of water and bridges. She went on the Chesapeake Bay Bridge on a windy day. She she paid the toll and started across and realized she couldn't continue. She was seized with fear. The bridge attendants had to rescue her. They told her to call ahead next time, and someone would drive her across. They do that for people. I felt terrible for her.

VaNeSsA said...

What a beautiful post! What a beautiful downtown. I love vibrant cities like that.

Barb said...

Hi Susan, I came to see if I missed a post of yours. You must be having a busy (and I hope fun) summer! We just had the Grands for a week - I need a bit of a break. We're going to Denver for the weekend.

Susan said...

Hi Kathleen! Sorry I'm so late responding to your comment.

If you get the chance, Pennsylvania should be on your list. It is a beautiful state, and probably my favorite of the states in which I've lived. It has pretty much everything you would want...mountains and skiing, white-water rafting, history galore, bucolic country settings, big-city life...there's a reason it always makes the top-ten places to retire in the U.S. :)

Susan said...

Thank you, Dutchbaby! I didn't know the botanical name of what I've always called Chines lanterns.

I'm the kind of person who has to meet fear head on. I will not let it get the best of me. Sometimes that lands me in trouble, but the feeling of satisfaction for the attempt is worth it.

The Golden Gate Bridge would be a beautiful commute! I've been across it once, when I visited my friend near South Lake Tahoe and we did a road trip down the coast. She drove across. LOL

Susan said...

Dear Bella, so sorry I've been absent from blogworld!

Boy! I don't know how I ever managed without my GPS! I'm pretty good with directions and reading a map, but now I feel much more confident, and I don't have to take my eyes off the road and the signs to read what I've written.

I can see myself in your friend's shoes! She must have been terrified, as I would have been. That's what I need! A full time bridge escort! :)

Susan said...

Thank you, Vanessa! You would enjoy it very much.

Susan said...

Hi again, Barb! Yes, it has been an extremely busy and brain-numbing summer. I've planned and executed a 50th wedding anniversary party for my in-laws, and a 40-year class reunion the following week. I could barely get together a sentence during that time, much less write a blog post! Hopefully, the brain is getting rested and I'll be able to pull one off soon. Sounds like you've been busy, too. Hope you get some well-deserved rest.

Barb said...

Well, Bob and I are celebrating our 45th tomorrow (14th) - no big celebrations planned. You are a busy lady! Hope you can relax a bit now.