"Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania" Top 5 Page for this destination Pittsburgh by starship

Pittsburgh Travel Guide: 775 reviews and 1,912 photos

"Iron City" ~ "Steel City"

On the Friday of Memorial Day weekend we packed our car with luggage, food and our daughter and started our 7-hour drive to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The first hours of the drive provided some terrific scenery, especially along the rocky and fast-flowing Susquehanna River and the steel-blue mountains were beautiful in this particular part of the state. The the last few hours of the drive seemed endless, broken only by two stops on the Pennsylvania Turnpike and a traffic jam at one point! We arrived in Pittsburgh after dark at our "designated" hotel, the Marriott Residence Inn, and we were happy when we found it exceedingly comfortable and so we anticipated a good night's sleep.

Volleyball Introduced Us to Pittsburgh

The reason for the trip was that our daughter's volleyball team was participating in the 3-day East Coast Volleyball Championships being held at the Lawrence Convention Center in downtown Pittsburgh.

The city of Pittsburgh hosted at least 400 girls' volleyball teams over the Memorial Day weekend and did a good job of accommodating the thousands who descended on the city for the "Beast of the East" competitions. Signs welcomed the teams, and the Lawrence Convention Center and the city of Pittsburgh combined to provide printed information about the city; offered special, on-site food venues; vendors offered shopping for souvenirs from the tournament; and an 'Asics' store was set up to sell volleyball gear and clothing. In addition, several restaurants and businesses offered special discounts to volleyball team members, coaches, and families with the special East Coast Volleyball hotel key cards.

Although volleyball was our main focus, our team's schedule allowed for a good amount of free time for sightseeing and exploring the sights that Pittsburgh had to offer and we made good use of our time to see as much as possible: the Duquesne Incline; Station Square; and a few sights around downtown; and we couldn't passup a sample of that Pittsburgh city classic -- Iron City beer! We had hoped to make a side trip to Frank Lloyd Wright's "Fallingwater" but in the end, we did not have the time.

The weekend was a good introduction to Pittsburgh. I was sad at first that the championships wouldn't be held at State College, PA/Penn State in 2008. I didn't think that Pittsburgh could compete with the great time we had last year at Penn State University in State College, PA, but I was wrong; we did indeed enjoy Pittsburgh! Being an old city with an important history, there is much more to see and do.

A Brief History of Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh has a favorable geographic position with the Ohio River branching off into the Allegheny and Monongahela Rivers which border what is now known as "The Golden Triangle" area of Pittsburgh. Native Americans inhabited the area thousands of years ago. Some tribes were displaced by arriving Europeans in the 1600's who brought disease and depleted the supply of game in the area. However, other tribes such as the Shawnee, Seneca, Susquehannock, and the Lenni Lenape took their place.

The advantageous position of the land was not lost on the French or British. Both groups built forts here, but it was the British who prevailed in 1758 and the village growing around Fort Pitt was named "Pittsborough" in honor of William Pitt, the British Prime Minister of the time. Ultimately, of course, it was the Americans who prevailed! George Washington "slept here" during negotiations with the Seneca Chief, Guyasuta, for land and trade agreements.

Pittsburgh became an early powerhouse of commerce with boat building, glass works, foundries, forges, textile mills, rolling mills and machine shops. In the late 1800's Pittsburgh was the world's largest glass manufacturing city in the world. The War of 1812 required iron and many of the vast businesses in Pittsburgh were born as a direct result. In addition, the Pittsburgh area was blessed with abundant natural resources including huges deposits of oil, coal, limestone, sand, clay and natural gas which supplied the growing businesses. Pittsburgh was already incorporated as a city by 1816.

Pittsburgh was known in the 1800's as the "Smokey City" because of the burning of coal in the manufacturing processes. All this production necessitated a means of transportation for the goods which of course was no problem considering the many rivers. However, Pittsburgh also became known as "The Gateway to the West" when the Pennsylvania Railroad arrived in 1852 and allowed even greater possibilities for the transportation of the fruits of the city's labors.

While Pittsburgh enjoyed tremendous growth and a burgeoning steel industry in the late 1800's through the early 1970's, by the early 1980's , the American steel industry foundered mightily under the weight of cheap imports and Pittsburgh suffered, losing tens of thousands of jobs. Unemployment rates soared. Although the city is now enjoying a renewed growth as a center for health care and technology, evidence of years of a declining and poor city population were evident to me during our 3-day stay. Lack of money has left some old neighborhoods looking like they probably did years and years ago, and some in exceptionally shabby condition. It made me sad. Portions of the city retain their original identity and charm and are still known by their old neighborhood" monikers, many of which were associated with the ethnic group of the original population living there: Italian, Polish, etc.

My wish is that soaring prices for oil (2008) will make shipping steel from overseas so cost prohibative that it will be less expensive to once again manufacture steel in the United States. I hope that the once great American steel industry will come roaring back to life in Pittsburgh again!!! U.S. Steel forever!

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:A variety of things to do & see!
  • Cons:Some parts are a little shabby around the edges.
  • In a nutshell:A very enjoyable visit!
  • Last visit to Pittsburgh: May 2008
  • Intro Updated May 9, 2016
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Reviews (20)

Comments (25)

  • blueskyjohn's Profile Photo
    May 10, 2015 at 3:04 AM

    Great page on Pittsburgh! Thanks for sharing some excellent information.

    • starship's Profile Photo
      May 10, 2015 at 8:06 AM

      Thank you! We really enjoyed our time here; would have liked to explore more if we had the time.

  • Yaqui's Profile Photo
    Nov 5, 2014 at 7:19 PM

    The Ducky Tours look absolutely fun and love the Point of View statue. Point State Park view is fabulous! Excellent page Sylvia!

    • starship's Profile Photo
      Nov 6, 2014 at 5:25 AM

      Thank you, Dee. We had a great weekend here. Never thought I would visit the city/area where my Father was born, so being able to visit Pittsburgh was pretty special to me.

  • balhannah's Profile Photo
    Oct 29, 2014 at 12:05 AM

    Thanks for the interesting virtual tour! I would find plenty there to keep me busy!

    • starship's Profile Photo
      Oct 29, 2014 at 5:45 AM

      Hi Dee, thanks so much for your visit to my Pitttsburgh pages. Although it was our daughter's volleyball tournament that brought us there, it was great to be able to fit in some sightseeing!

  • davidjo's Profile Photo
    Jul 19, 2014 at 7:12 PM

    I remember driving by Pittsburg at night over 30 yrs ago. It was kind of frightening on the highway as i had never seen so many trucks before.

  • isolatedpawn's Profile Photo
    Sep 11, 2013 at 2:56 AM

    Nice artilcles

  • MalenaN's Profile Photo
    Sep 10, 2013 at 9:35 PM

    There seem to be lots of things to do in and around Pittsburgh. I especially would like to visit Palace of Gold and Falling Water.

  • toonsarah's Profile Photo
    Mar 28, 2013 at 5:48 AM

    A shame you didn't get to Falling Water (I have wanted to go there for ages!) but you seem to have seen quite a lot in your short visit. The city seems much more interesting to visit than I would have thought. And the restaurants you found sound great, as does your hotel

    • starship's Profile Photo
      Mar 28, 2013 at 6:37 AM

      Thanks for visiting! I was in the process of updating this page as there are many more points of interest to cover. i.e, for sports lovers, Pittsburgh has the pro-football (not soccer) Pittsburgh Steelers and for pro-baseball, the Pittsburgh Pirates. And, I do hope to get to Falling Water one day! We had an unexpectedly great time in Pittsburgh!

  • LoriPori's Profile Photo
    Mar 25, 2013 at 4:27 AM

    Looks like you had a great time in Pittsburgh. Love the pic of the view from Point State Park. Your hotel was a great pick also.

    • starship's Profile Photo
      Mar 25, 2013 at 5:03 AM

      Hi Lori, thanks for your visit to my Pittsburgh page. We had a terrific weekend there and it was great to finally see the city where my Father was born!!

  • DAO's Profile Photo
    Nov 24, 2010 at 10:01 AM

    I will sort out your lack of postcards from Argentina and the Falklands in February. I sent you one from Egypt a month ago and others have thiers! Argghhh.

  • Myfanwe's Profile Photo
    Mar 21, 2010 at 1:03 PM

    Hi Sylvia, Thanks for the Llandaff visit. I enjoyed reading your Pittsburgh tips, it certainly looks like an interesting place to visit. Vicki


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