VISITED: JUNE 2015
Pittsburgh, the city of bridges, boasts the most bridges than any other region thanks to the confluence the Ohio River, Allegheny River, and the Monongahela River. Once known for its production of steel, Pittsburgh still honors this heritage in the wide array of bridge styles made out of the same material. In fact, the "Trinity of Bridges" or the "Three Sisters," mark the only identical side-by-side steel suspension bridges ever constructed. The golden color of these bridges falls in line with the same color that all Pittsburgh sports franchises (MLB, NFL, and NHL) are represented by. In fact, Pittsburgh boasts being the only U.S. city where all of their sports teams, Pirates, Steelers, and Penguins, share the same team colors: black and gold. Pittsburgh's love for their teams runs deep and that is made abundantly clear when the Roberto Clemente Bridge is closed for the mass amount of foot traffic during Pirates home games. So, whether joining in with the foot traffic, or arriving by train or car, the opportunity to photograph Pittsburgh's resplendent architecture should not be missed.
During my trip to Pittsburgh we had a few thunderstorms roll in, but unlike my trip to Austin, the clouds and ambiance created by these storms made for some captivating photographs. Besides rolling with the weather, another aspect I have learned through my travels is that it is imperative not to rush your trip. Often times I would try to squeeze as much as I can into one day and this would culminate with me having to rush from location to location. My trip to Pittsburgh put this into perspective for me by making me spellbound with all of the natural and architectural beauty the city had to offer. By visiting just a handful of locations I was able to access a myriad of locations that opened the door for shooting different perspectives of the city. Here were those spots:
Point of View Park - From the top of Mount Washington, this park has a northeastern view that overlooks the three rivers and downtown Pittsburgh. The park provides the ideal elevated vista for panoramic views of the Pittsburgh skyline. Due to its location, the park is accessible by car or on foot via the Duquesne Incline and a short walk along Grandview Avenue. For those who enjoy the challenge, the Greenleaf Trail (accessible from Greenleaf Street or Republic Street) provides magnificent views of the city through a 2.5-mile round-trip hike of wooded switchbacks. If you have time, and don't mind a walk along Grandview Avenue, then I would highly recommend strolling down the street to view the skyline from one of the many overlooks that are nearby. Such overlooks include the West End Overlook, Grandview Overlook, Duquesne Scenic Overlook, and the Mount Washington Observation Deck.
Point State Park - Known locally as, 'The Point,' Point State Park is over 30 acres of land at the spot where the Allegheny and Monongahela rivers meet to form the Ohio River. This is also the location of the Point State Park Fountain, which sits on the western most point and can spray water up to 150 feet into the air. Walk along the Three Rivers Heritage Trail and it is easy to see why this park is such a hit with locals and visitors. It provides great views across the river, pedestrian access to various bridges, and the historical remains of Fort Duquesne and Fort Pitt.
North Shore Riverfront Park - This 11-acre park faces south with a view of the Pittsburgh skyline in the background and the Allegheny River in the foreground. The North Shore Riverfront Park experiences heavy foot traffic along its river walk and the walkways that meander through its various memorials and public art displays. One such display is its Water Steps and Canal Square. The Water Steps are made out of sandstone and arranged in a way so that they broaden as the steps descend. The steps add a playful element of the park and provide a place for families and others to sit and enjoy the views of the city. On hot summer days it isn't unusual to see families cooling off and playing in the water surrounding Canal Square and the Water Steps.
P.N.C. Park - P.N.C. Park is arguably the greatest new age baseball stadium in the U.S. with spine tingling views of the Pittsburgh skyline. Once inside the stadium, head to highest point behind home plate and be prepared to be blown away by the sight as you turn around. Along with great perspectives inside the stadium, the views along the Three Rivers Heritage Trail in front of the stadium are equally astonishing by day or night. If you are in town during a Pirates home game, then be sure to take advantage of photographing the Roberto Clemente Bridge when it is free of any traffic. It is only during this time that the bridge is closed off to vehicular traffic so that large groups of pedestrians may cross. It is especially majestic at night when the street lamps along the bridge turn on and the lights of the city are reflected along the Allegheny River.
Taking these different locales into consideration, here are my recommendations for where to photograph sunrise and sunset:
SUNRISE - Point of View Park - This park sits on the edge of Mount Washington and Spring Hill with an elevated northeastern view of downtown Pittsburgh. This is easily one of the greatest places to photograph Pittsburgh and the three rivers at sunrise.
SUNSET - Point State Park - Just walk around the fountain in Point of View Park and you will see that there are an abundance of compelling subjects to be photographed. The park is shaped like a curvilinear triangle with the Point State Park Fountain at its western-most tip looking out at the convergence of the Ohio, Allegheny, and Monongahela Rivers. An ideal location to watch the suns golden rays sparkle along the water and light up the golden bridges to the south and the east.
Recommended Pittsburgh yum-yum's:
*Primanti Brothers - Famous sandwiches that are piled high with meat and French fries with optional add-ons like fried egg and/or mozzarella sticks.
*Penn Brewery - Colossal BLT sandwiches and flights of beer inside an active brewery. Perfect.
*Pamela's - The best breakfast in Pittsburgh, whether it's pancakes, hotcakes, or the crepes. Bring your appetite!
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