The elegant World War I-era Westin William Penn Hotel (412281-7100) is located in the heart of downtown’s Golden Triangle. The Pittsburgh Hilton and Towers (412-391-4600), fronted by Point State Park, offers fine views of all three rivers. The Sheraton Hotel Station Square (412-261-2000) is across the Monongahela in a mallsand-stalls development where you will also find restaurants, horse-drawn carriages, huge pieces of old industrial equipment displayed as sculpture, and a disused railroad terminal with boutiques inside the cars. Tour ships that cruise the three rivers leave hourly from Station Square.
The best views of Pittsburgh can be had by riding the Monongahela and Duquesne inclines on Carson Street. These cable railways are the two survivors of fifteen that were built in the late 180Os to bring workers to jobs along the river from their homes high above. They climb four hundred feet up Mount Washington at nerve-racking angles of more than thirty degrees by means that may not be immediately apparent to a first-time rider.
The Warhol Museum (412-237-8300) is open Wednesday through Sunday from 11:00 A.M. to 6:00 P.M. (8:00 P.M. on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday). A children’s museum, an aviary, and a science center are also in the vicinity.
The Oakland neighborhood, east of downtown, is home to the University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University, as well as art and natural history museums and a 1.9-million-volume library, all named after the ubiquitous Mr. Carnegie. Oakland is dominated by the University of Pittsburgh’s Gothic forty-two-story Cathedral of Learning, “the style of which would have sent Ruskin mad but is yet curiously effective,” according to Stephen Potter. For those less fastidious than Ruskin, the Cathedral contains, among many items of interest, a set of rooms dedicated to Pittsburgh’s numerous ethnic groups, a reminder of the days when two-thirds of the city’s residents were foreign-born. The Historical Society of Western Pennsylvania has just opened an elaborate museum in the adjoining Strip District.
The Fort Pitt Museum (412-281-9284) and the blockhouse are open Wednesday through Sunday from 10:00 A.M. (noon on Sunday) to 4:30 P.M. The fort ruins can be seen whenever the park is open. In the rest of the Golden Triangle, urban renewal has had its usual blandifying effect on Pittsburgh’s architecture. Nevertheless, some nice old buildings do survive, most notably the imposing 1888 Allegheny County Courthouse and Jail, one of the greatest examples of H. H. Richardson’s Romanesque style.
Further information is available from the Greater Pittsburgh Convention and Visitors Bureau (4 Gateway Center, Pittsburgh, PA 15222; 1-800366-0093) and the state Department of Commerce (1-800-VISIT PA).