Pittsburgh’s known for its skyline — especially looking down on it from Mt. Washington. Though we have a few skyscrapers here, the tallest is the U.S. Steel Tower at 600 Grant St., at a height of 64 stories tall. With a nativity scene every Christmas and some screen time in movies shot in Pittsburgh, the U.S. Steel Tower certainly stands out. Here’s everything you need to know about Pittsburgh’s tallest skyscraper.
At 64 stories tall, the U.S. Steel Tower is 841 feet high, making it the tallest skyscraper in the city, the fourth tallest in Pennsylvania, the 41st tallest in the country, and the 220th tallest in the world. On a clear day, it can be seen from up to 50 miles away — take a trip up to the nearby Laurel Highlands to see for yourself. Previously, Pittsburgh’s tallest building was the 44-story Gulf Tower. Because the U.S. Steel Tower’s roof does not taper like many skyscrapers, it has the largest roof in the world for its height at one acre. It was once used as a heliport.
The building was designed by Harrison & Abramovitz and was conceived by U.S. Steel executives to be the company’s world headquarters, with the intention of being the tallest in the world. But they settled for making it the tallest outside of New York or Chicago — a distinction it has since lost to newer buildings. Construction began in 1967, and the tower was dedicated on Sept. 30, 1971. U.S. Steel hasn’t been the only company housed in the structure, however, and in fact may leave by 2017. Other notable companies who have done business out of the tower include Rockwell International and UPMC, which currently keeps its headquarters there.
The tower is known for its shape — triangular with indented corners, intended to mirror the shape of downtown Pittsburgh — and for being the first building to use liquid-filled fireproof columns, filled with a combination of water, antifreeze, and rust inhibitor. U.S. Steel Tower has 44,000 tons of structural steel and almost an acre of office space per floor, most of which is currently occupied by UPMC.
A nativity scene is put up outside the tower each year and it’s not only bigger than the original nativity, but it’s also the only nativity in the country to be authorized by the Vatican. It’ll also soon be home to a new steakhouse, Red.
Pittsburgh’s had its fair share of movies filmed in the city, and of course the U.S. Steel Tower makes some appearances. It can be seen in such films as Dogma, Jack Reacher, The Dark Knight Rises and Dawn of the Dead. It’s also featured in the music video for local rapper Wiz Khalifa’s song “Black and Yellow.” It’s even featured in a video game — it’s in the Fallout 3 downloadable content called “The Pitt.”
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.