Downtown Orientation Walk, Pittsburgh (Self Guided)

Pittsburgh appears trough its history as a city built on coal and steel. Today Pittsburgh will impress you with its exhibits of contemporary art and rides on antique cable cars. Downtown Pittsburgh, the "Golden Triangle" as it's often called, blends the historic, administrative, economic, and cultural diversity into the heart of the city. Rediscover Pittsburgh trough its fascinating landmarks. Here are some sites that should be seen when you come to Pittsburgh.
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Downtown Orientation Walk Map

Guide Name: Downtown Orientation Walk
Guide Location: USA » Pittsburgh (See other walking tours in Pittsburgh)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 14
Tour Duration: 3 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 4.1 km
Author: Caroline
Pittsburgh's Market Square

1) Pittsburgh's Market Square

Pittsburgh's Market Square is a public space located in Downtown Pittsburgh. The square was home to the first courthouse, first jail (both in 1795) and the first newspaper (1786) west of the Atlantic Plain, the Pittsburgh Gazette. A public/private modernization in the late 2000s has re-established the square as a social and cultural hub. A great number of restaurants, ranging from fast casual to fine dining, cafes and retailers occupy ground level buildings immediately facing the square, while housing units and offices occupy upper levels.
Sight description based on wikipedia
PPG Place

2) PPG Place (must see)

PPG Place is a complex in downtown of the city, consisting of six buildings within three city blocks and five and a half acres. Named for its anchor tenant, PPG Industries, who initiated the project for its headquarters, the buildings are all of matching glass design consisting of 19,750 pieces of glass. The complex centers around One PPG Place, a 40-story office building.

Groundbreaking ceremonies occurred on January 28, 1981. The complex buildings opened between 1983 and 1984, and a dedication ceremony took place on April 11, 1984. The buildings were sold by The Hillman Company to Highwoods Properties in 2011. The buildings are recognized by their 231 glass spires, with the largest one 82 feet (25 m) tall. Also notable are the surfaces of reflective insulating glass, that served to advertise the project's founder.

The design of the building not only made it distinct, but created high energy-efficiency. Heat in the summer is reflected away from the building by the glass, while in winter infrared heat is reflected and contained within the building. The surface walls feature a barrier construction that effectively separates the interior walls from the exterior. The building also collects heat from computer equipment and recycles it throughout the structure. Construction of the building highlighted Pittsburgh's "Renaissance II period", which saw the Pittsburgh economy falter as a result of steel mill closures, while Pittsburgh Plate Glass remained a Fortune 500 company.

"(The above description is based on Wikipedia under Creative Common License)"
Sight description based on wikipedia
Point State Park

3) Point State Park (must see)

Point State Park is a Pennsylvania state park on 36 acres (150,000 m2) located at the confluence of the Allegheny and Monongahela rivers, forming the Ohio River. Built on land acquired via eminent domain from industrial enterprises in the 1950s, the park opened in August, 1974, when construction was completed on its iconic fountain. Pittsburgh settled on the current design after rejecting an alternative plan for a Point Park Civic Center designed by Frank Lloyd Wright.

The park also includes the outlines and remains of two of the oldest structures in Pittsburgh, Fort Pitt and Fort Duquesne. The Fort Pitt Museum, housed in the Monongahela Bastion of Fort Pitt, commemorates the French and Indian War (1754–1763), in which the area soon to become Pittsburgh was a major battlefield. Today the park provides recreational space for workers, visitors, and residents in downtown Pittsburgh and also acts as the site for major cultural events in the city, including the Venture Outdoors Festival, Three Rivers Arts Festival and Three Rivers Regatta.

"(The above description is based on Wikipedia under Creative Common License)"
Sight description based on wikipedia
Fort Pitt Blockhouse

4) Fort Pitt Blockhouse (must see)

The Fort Pitt Blockhouse, or Bouquet's Blockhouse, is a historic building in Point State Park in the city. It was constructed in 1764 as a redoubt of Fort Pitt, making it the oldest extant structure in Western Pennsylvania, as well as the "oldest authenticated structure west of the Allegheny Mountains". The Fort Pitt Blockhouse was constructed in 1764 to address weaknesses in Fort Pitt's original design.

Fort Pitt had been completed in 1761 and survived a difficult siege in 1763 during Pontiac's Rebellion. Although the Blockhouse resides within the boundaries of Point State Park, it is owned and operated by the Fort Pitt Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution. The DAR allows visitors to the park to tour the structure. The building is recognized by the National Register of Historic Places as being the sole surviving historical building in the "Forks of the Ohio (Site of Fort Duquesne and Fort Pitt, Bouquet's Blockhouse)" historic place.

"(The above description is based on Wikipedia under Creative Common License)"
Sight description based on wikipedia
Fort Pitt Museum

5) Fort Pitt Museum (must see)

Fort Pitt Museum is an indoor/outdoor museum that is administrated by the Senator John Heinz History Center in downtown of the city. It is surrounded by Point State Park, a Pennsylvania state park named for the geographically and historically significant point that is between the rivers. This piece of land was key to controlling the upper reaches of the Ohio River Valley and western Pennsylvania, before, during and after the French and Indian War as well as the American Revolution.

The museum is in a recreated bastion of Fort Pitt, which was originally built in 1758 by the British. An outline of Fort Duquesne is nearby. The historical focus of the museum is the role that Fort Pitt played during the French and Indian War. The museum also features detailed information on Fort Pitt's role during the American Revolution, the Whiskey Rebellion and the founding of Pittsburgh.

The museum was established and operated by the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission until its closure in August 2009 from state budget cuts. The Heinz Center took over operation of the museum and reopened it in April 2010.

Operation hours: Daily 10 am - 5 pm.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Heinz Hall

6) Heinz Hall (must see)

Heinz Hall for the Performing Arts is a performing arts center and concert hall located at 600 Penn Avenue in the Cultural District of Pittsburgh. Home to the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra (PSO) and the Pittsburgh Youth Symphony, the 2,676 seat hall presents about 200 performances each year.

Originally built in 1927 as Loew’s Penn Theatre, the former movie palace was renovated and reopened as Heinz Hall in 1971. Built as the Loew's and United Artists' Penn Theatre, construction of the building was completed in 1927. Motion picture business magnate and pioneer Marcus Loew engaged the architectural firm of Rapp & Rapp to design the movie palace.

The Grand Lobby was particularly impressive, with its 50-foot (15 m)-high vaulted Venetian ceiling, massive ornamental columns, marble staircase, bronze and crystal chandeliers and silk drapes. From 1967 to 1971, the building was extensively renovated.

"(The above description is based on Wikipedia under Creative Common License)"
Sight description based on wikipedia
Cultural District

7) Cultural District

The Cultural District is features six theaters offering some 1,500 shows annually, as well as art galleries, restaurants, and retail shops. Its landmarks include: Allegheny Riverfront Park, Benedum Center, Byham Theater, Harris Theater, Heinz Hall, O'Reilly Theater, Pittsburgh Creative and Performing Arts School, Three Rivers Arts Festival Gallery, Wood Street Galleries, and the August Wilson Center for African American Culture.
Sight description based on wikipedia
First Presbyterian Church

8) First Presbyterian Church (must see)

The First Presbyterian Church of Pittsburgh is one of the oldest Protestant organizations west of the Allegheny Mountains. The First Presbyterian Church proudly profiles roofs, which date back to 1758, and gorgeous memorial stained-glass windows, all of which were designed and installed by the famous Tiffany Studios.
Trinity Cathedral

9) Trinity Cathedral (must see)

Trinity Cathedral is the cathedral for the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh. The present Gothic church, the third structure to hold the congregation, was completed in 1872 on the site of a hilltop cemetery. The site, centered on a terrace above the historic "point" (where the Allegheny River and the Monongahela River join to form the Ohio River) was sacred to Native Americans as a burial ground. Early settlers also used this site as a cemetery. The congregation built its second church here in 1824.

The Trinity Churchyard has the oldest marked graves west of the Atlantic Seaboard, of both Native American leaders, French, English, and American colonists. The first Trinity Church was built two blocks to the west of this burial ground at the base of the hill or terrace initially. It was constructed from the 1780s to 1805.

In 1824 Trinity moved to its current site in the middle of the terrace churchyard with what is regarded as the first gothic structure in Western Pennsylvania. John Henry Hopkins led the design and construction of the cathedral, which was complete with butresses, a tower, pointed arches and a vaulted ceiling. In 1872 the new Trinity Cathedral was completed. It was the tallest building in the city until the construction of the Allegheny County Courthouse in 1888.

"(The above description is based on Wikipedia under Creative Common License)"
Sight description based on wikipedia
Pittsburgh Central Downtown Historic District

10) Pittsburgh Central Downtown Historic District

The Pittsburgh Central Downtown Historic District is a historic district in the Central Business District. This place was listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The Frick Building and U.S. Post Office and Courthouse are contributing properties and are also listed separately on the National Register of Historic Places. Other notable contributing properties are the Gulf Tower, the William Penn Hotel, the Oliver Building, Mellon Square, the August Wilson Center, the Federal Reserve Bank Branch, Gulf Tower, the Koppers Building and Trinity Cathedral.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Mellon Square

11) Mellon Square

Mellon Square is the first Modernist park built above a parking garage. With its distinctive black-and-white geometric pavement, it is a prominent feature and gathering spot of Downtown Pittsburgh. The square, bounded by Smithfield Street, William Penn Place, and Oliver and Sixth avenues, is surrounded by many prominent downtown buildings including the Oliver Building, 525 William Penn Place, Omni William Penn Hotel, and the Regional Enterprise Tower.

The square is part of the Pittsburgh Central Downtown Historic District, which received National Register of Historic Places status in 1985. A historical marker in the square commemorates the Founding Convention of the American Federation of Labor, which took place on November 15, 1881, in Turner Hall, near this location. This site is on the List of Pennsylvania state historical markers in Allegheny County. The Square serves as the backdrop to revealing scenes in the 2002 thriller The Mothman Prophecies with Richard Gere and Laura Linney.

"(The above description is based on Wikipedia under Creative Common License)"
Sight description based on wikipedia
Omni William Penn Hotel

12) Omni William Penn Hotel

The Omni William Penn Hotel is located at 530 William Penn Place on Mellon Square. A variety of luminaries have stayed at the hotel, including John F. Kennedy. The hotel staff innovated Lawrence Welk's now famous bubble machine, and it was the site of Bob Hope's marriage proposal in 1934.

The hotel has won numerous awards including being named to the “Best of Weddings 2009” list by The Knot and receiving the Editor’s Choice Award in the Business Hotels category on The hotel also features an award winning restaurant that dates from 1916, the Terrace Room, featuring among other amenities a wall long mural entitled "The taking of Fort Pitt". The Terrace Room was voted "Best Hotel Dining" establishment in both 2008 and 2009 by readers of the Pittsburgh City Paper.

Built from 1915 to 1916, the William Penn opened on March 11, 1916, in what newspapers hailed as the Grandest Hotel in the nation, its first night it hosted the annual Pittsburgh Chamber of Commerce Gala and was recorded as the largest gala in city history up to that time with U.S. Secretary of State Philander Knox hosting the event.

"(The above description is based on Wikipedia under Creative Common License)"
Sight description based on wikipedia
Senator John Heinz History Center

13) Senator John Heinz History Center (must see)

The Senator John Heinz History Center, an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution, is the largest history museum in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Named after the late U.S. Senator H. John Heinz III (1938–1991), it is located in the Strip District of the city. The Heinz History Center is a 275,000-square-foot (25,500 m2) $36 million educational institution "that engages and inspires a diverse audience with links to the past, understanding in the present, and guidance for the future by preserving regional history and presenting the American experience with a Western Pennsylvania connection".

The History Center features the Western Pennsylvania Sports Museum and the Library and Archives, and includes six floors of permanent and changing exhibitions that tell the story of Western Pennsylvania. It opened with an Inaugural Gala on April 26, 1996 for 900 guests. The museum's history begins in 1879 with the formation of a club called Old Residents of Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania. In 1884 it changed its name to the Historical Society of Western Pennsylvania and has been in continuous existence since, making it the Pittsburgh region's oldest cultural organization.

The History Center also operates Meadowcroft Rockshelter, a world-renowned archaeological site south of Pittsburgh near Washington County's Avella community. The Rockshelter is the oldest site of human habitation in North America, with evidence of man living there for nearly 16,000 years. The site was named a National Historic Landmark in 2005.

Operation hours: Daily: 10 am - 5 pm.

"(The above description is based on Wikipedia under Creative Common License)"
Sight description based on wikipedia
Strip District

14) Strip District

The Strip District is a neighborhood in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in the United States. Here you can find many specialty shops, restaurants, nightclubs, and bars. The historic St. Stanislaus Kostka Church, an 1891 landmark built in the ornate Polish Cathedral style, lies in the heart of the Strip District and served early generations of Polish immigrants. Since the late 20th century, the area has developed into a historic market district with many ethnic food purveyors, some art studios, antique dealers, unique boutiques, and other businesses setting up shop where trains once delivered produce by the ton.
Sight description based on wikipedia

Walking Tours in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Create Your Own Walk in Pittsburgh

Create Your Own Walk in Pittsburgh

Creating your own self-guided walk in Pittsburgh is easy and fun. Choose the city attractions that you want to see and a walk route map will be created just for you. You can even set your hotel as the start point of the walk.
Pittsburgh Religious Buildings

Pittsburgh Religious Buildings

Pittsburgh features a rich history and is home to various religious buildings and places of worship. Several of the city’s churches represent historic landmarks and date back to the 19th century. Religious buildings like these are open to the public and highly recommended during your visit.

Tour Duration: 1 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.1 km
Discover Pittsburgh's Art on the South Side

Discover Pittsburgh's Art on the South Side

The southern district of Pittsburgh was originally a village of Birmingham that was annexed to Pittsburgh in 1872. Today, the southern section of the city is rich in culture, profiling the historic East Carson Street - covered in numerous small stores, restaurants, and bars.

Tour Duration: 1 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.7 km
Pittsburgh Art Galleries

Pittsburgh Art Galleries

Pittsburgh is home to a number of art galleries, all of which are worth a visit. This beautiful city offers the chance for visitors to admire and appreciate modern art, photography, and watercolor paintings. Make sure you do not miss a chance to visit the art and culture of Pittsburgh.

Tour Duration: 1 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 0.6 km
Pittsburgh Museums

Pittsburgh Museums

Pittsburgh is home to various museums which depict everything from history to modern art. Visitors may learn about the city’s early history at Senator John Heinz History Center and Fort Pitt Museum, appreciate installation art at Mattress Factory Museum, admire works of Andy Warhol at Andy Warhol Museum, and have fun at two other Pittsburgh museums dedicated to children.

Tour Duration: 3 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 7.0 km
East Pittsburgh

East Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh’s eastern region offers various attractions of interest, including city landmarks and historic sites. East Pittsburgh is home to the outstanding Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens, Schenley Park, Stephen Foster Memorial Museum, Mary Schenley Memorial fountain, and two of the Carnegie Museums.

Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.0 km
Pittburgh Downtown Architecture Walk

Pittburgh Downtown Architecture Walk

The city of Pittsburgh offers amazing architecture composed of stylish contemporary buildings, as well as buildings which date back to the 18th century. Fort Pitt Blockhouse, one of the many brilliant structures in the city, is the oldest of Pittsburgh’s buildings and an outstanding landmark.

Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.5 km

Tips for Exploring City on Foot at Your Own Pace

Whether you are in Pittsburgh for a quick stopover or have a few days to see the city in more detail, exploring it on foot, at your own pace, is definitely the way to go. Here are some tips for you to save money, see the best Pittsburgh has to offer, take good care of your feet while walking, and keep your mobile device – your ultimate "work horse" on this trip - well fed and safe.

Taking Care of Your Feet

To ensure ultimate satisfaction from a day of walking around the city as big as Pittsburgh, it is imperative to take good care of your feet so as to avoid unpleasant things like blisters, cold or overheated soles, itchy, irritated or otherwise damaged (cracked) skin, etc. Luckily, these days there is no shortage of remedies to address (and, ideally, to prevent) these and other potential problems with feet. Among them: Compression Socks, Rechargeable Battery-Powered Thermo Socks for Cold Weather, Foot Repair Cream, Deodorant Powder, Shoes UV Sterilizer, and many more that you may wish to find a place in your travel kit for.

Travel Gadgets for Your Mobile Device

Your mobile phone or tablet will be your work horse on a self-guided walk. They offer tour map, guide you from one attraction to another, and provide informative background for the sights you wish to visit. Therefore it is absolutely essential to plan against unexpected power outages in the wrong place at the wrong time, much as to ensure the safety of your device.

For these and other contingencies, here's the list of useful appliances: Portable Charger/External Battery Pack, Worldwide Travel Charger Adapter, Power Converter for International Travel Adapter, and Mobile Device Leash.