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Pittsburgh: one of America's great urban treasures


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Brendan Gill, architecture writer for The New Yorker, 1990: "The three most beautiful cities in the world are Paris; St. Petersburg, Russia; and Pittsburgh. If Pittsburgh were situated somewhere in the heart of Europe, tourists would eagerly journey hundreds of miles out of their way to visit it."























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Great pics Evergrey. There was one building that showed a lot of 'staining'. I was curious if it's because of the materials used or could it be partly because of Pittsburgh pollution problems in the past?

I assume you're referring to the Cathedral of Learning... which is a skyscraper completed in the 30s in the Gothic Revival style. It's 42 stories and 535 ft. tall. It is the centerpiece of the University of Pittsburgh and is the tallest educational structure in the Western Hemisphere. The grime on the structure is due to the heavy pollution of the steel industry through the 1970s. Today, steel is mostly a distant memory in Pittsburgh. It is now one of the cleanest cities in the country. Its industrial base has been replaced by health care, finance, robotics, computers and other service and high-tech industries. There was recently a proposal to clean the grime from the Cathedral of Learning (something I support!)... however, there the proposal failed because many people actually like the look of the grime... I suppose it adds to the gothic element and is a reminder of Pittsburgh's past.


Another notable structure in Pittsburgh that features "pollution staining" is this beautiful downtown church. A century of heavy industry turned the church black... but people loved it... so the grime stayed... it certainly gives it a distinctive look.


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Thanks for the info, I had thought that but figured I should ask to make sure. Yeah I had heard Pittsburgh is certainly a lot cleaner today. I don't think people think as much about it now but for a while they were having to convince people it really was a clean city. I believe I've seen some pics of buildings in some of the more historical industrial areas of Europe that have that grime on some of their buildings too.

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This is why Pittsburgh has been one of my favorite skylines for so long. Great shots! :thumbsup: MY dad grew up there and I've been back several times since my youth many years ago. His family later moved to central PA, so my trips to visit them did not often take me directly to Pitt. However, since I had family in Toledo as well, I would pass through and get to experience the city my dad knew as a boy.

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Frank Lloyd Wright disliked the Cathedral of Learning, calling it "the world's largest keep-off-the-grass sign."

I wonder what he would think to see all of the students lounging, playing and studying on the lawn around that building. It's always busy when the weather is decent.

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I wonder what he would think to see all of the students lounging, playing and studying on the lawn around that building. It's always busy when the weather is decent.

Wright was a megalomaniacal modernist who rejected beautiful works of architecture that preceded the modernist movement. The Cathedral of Learning is a national treasure and provides immeasurable tangible and intangible benefits to the university, neighborhood and the city of Pittsburgh. He was strictly a "form follows function" architect... and IMO his works pay no respect to their urban environments.

Here's what he wanted to do with Pittsburgh's Point Park... the Point Park Civic Center:


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