Sometimes, it’s easy to take your own backyard for granted — while every place has something that makes it stand out, it can often be overlooked by those who live there. Pittsburgh is no exception. We have a lot of neat things that set us apart, whether it’s a museum, a restaurant or a beautiful skyline. Here are some of the coolest things you’ll find in Pittsburgh, but not elsewhere.
Grandview Avenue on Mt. Washington got its name for a reason — it runs the length of the mount and offers the best view of Pittsburgh’s skyline from 367 feet up, once ranked as the most beautiful vista in the country. Its four scenic overlooks are popular spots to watch a fireworks display, whether its midnight on New Year’s or dusk on the 4th of July, or to watch the city’s annual Light Up Night. Mt. Washington is also home to the oldest continuous inclines in the world, with the Mon Incline carrying passengers to and from Station Square at the bottom of the mount and the Duquesne Incline still sporting its original wooden cars from 1877.
Pittsburgh’s North Side is home to the National Aviary, the only aviary to be granted honorary national status by Congress. It’s also the country’s only independent indoor nonprofit zoo dedicated exclusively to birds, including free-flying ones. As if that weren’t impressive enough, the aviary is also the country’s largest, housing over 500 birds from over 150 species. The aviary is even the current home to a baby two-toed sloth, named Valentino.
One of the founding fathers of pop art, Andy Warhol worked primarily in New York City. But he was born and raised in Pittsburgh, a city that proudly honors his legacy with the Andy Warhol Museum on the North Shore, the largest museum in the country dedicated to a single artist. The Warhol Museum houses 900 paintings, 100 sculptures, 1,000 prints, 4,000 photographs and more, including the ever-popular “Silver Clouds” exhibit. Although Warhol died in New York, he is buried in Pittsburgh, and the Warhol Museum’s website features a live feed of the gravesite.
The Cathedral Of Learning
The University of Pittsburgh’s Cathedral of Learning towers over Oakland, a Gothic Revival tower designed to be “a symbol of the life that Pittsburgh through the years had wanted to live.” But what makes the Cathedral truly unique and more than worthy of its place on the National Register of Historic Places is its Nationality Rooms, located on the first and third floors of the Cathedral. The 30 classrooms reflect the cultures of various countries all over the world, with 28 still used as classrooms while the other two serve mainly as display or for events. Guided tours of the rooms are available year-round, while self-guided audio tours are available when class is not in session, typically from the end of April until the beginning of September.
While Pittsburgh has a wide variety of excellent restaurants, its most unique is perhaps Conflict Kitchen, located in the middle of the city on Schenley Drive. The restaurant features cuisine from countries with which the United States is in conflict, which changes in relation to current geopolitical events. Its current focus is on Iran, while past Conflict Kitchens have featured Afghanistan, Cuba, North Korea, Palestine and Venezuela. But Conflict Kitchen’s attention isn’t just on the food — each iteration also features “events, performances, publications and discussions that seek to expand the engagement the public has with the culture, politics and issues at stake within the focus region,” and the food is even packaged in wrappers featuring interviews with the people from the featured country.
Janelle Sheetz is a 20-something closed-captioner by day, writer by night, just outside of Pittsburgh. She also regularly contributes to AXS.com and Examiner.com, and her writing has also been featured on The Billfold and Neutrons Protons.