Back in the day, people used to take a Sunday drive to relax and get a change of scenery. If you are looking to expand your horizon, below are some driving tours that you can take to explore the area. Some are confined to city while others involve a bit more time in the car. With the help of GPS, you can simply search for the sites online and find the best route that suits you.
Breathtaking Views of Pittsburgh Tour – Mt. Washington, West End Bridge, Exiting the Ft. Pitt Tunnels, Fine Views, South Side Slopes
Everybody goes to Mt. Washington for view of Pittsburgh because the vista is simply breathtaking, but once you hit the obligatory overlook, expand your view and get some different perspectives on the city. West End Bridge – this view gives you a spectacular view of The Point and all three rivers. Exiting the Ft. Pitt Tunnels into the city has dazzled visitors. You emerge out of the dark tunnel and immediately see a glittering jewel box of a city laid out before you. Fine View’s Catoma Street overlook on the North Side gives an up-close and personal view of the Allegheny River side of the city, while the South Side Slopes give you a Mon River view.
Catholic Shrines of Pittsburgh Tour – St. Patrick, St. Stanislaus Kostka, St. Anthony Chapel, St. Nicholas and Immaculate Heart of Mary
St. Patrick in the Strip District contains a replica of the Holy Stairs Jesus is believed to have ascended to be judged by Pontius Pilate. Also, in the Strip, St. Stanislaus was built by the area’s Polish community and was visited by Saint John Paul II. On nearby Troy Hill is St. Anthony Chapel, which has the world’s largest collection of relics outside of the Vatican. Not far from there is St. Nicholas in Millvale, which boasts the Maxo Vanka murals of Croatian immigration and the destruction of Europe in World War II. On Polish Hill is Immaculate Heart of Mary, which is modeled after St. Peter’s in Rome and was also built by Polish immigrants.
Forts Tour – Fort Pitt, Fort Ligonier, Fort Bedford
When the region was settled, those moving into the area built and gathered to live in forts for their defense. We have three surviving forts in Western Pennsylvania. In downtown Pittsburgh we have Fort Pitt and the Block House in Point State Park. Drive to the east to Ligonier, and we find Fort Ligonier, which was a British fortification built during the French and Indian War. Also erected during the French and Indian War, Fort Bedford is a bit further to the east. The original fort was demolished, but in 1958, a log blockhouse was erected to commemorate the fort’s 200th anniversary.
Golden Age Mansions Tour – Mansions on Fifth, Clayton, John Worthington House, Mellon Estate
During the Golden Age, the period from approximately 1830 through 1930, Pittsburgh was home to more millionaires than New York City, and many of them settled in the east end of Pittsburgh in Point Breeze, Shadyside, and Squirrel Hill. Located on Fifth Avenue in Shadyside, the Mansions on Fifth Hotel was formerly the home of prominent attorney Willis McCook. Clayton, in Point Breeze, was the estate of Henry Clay Frick and is now a museum. South Penn Oil Company executive John Worthington built his mansion in Squirrel Hill, and it is now the Temple Sinai synagogue. The Mellon estate in Shadyside was once the largest home in Pittsburgh. It was destroyed during World War II, but the land is now home to Mellon Park.
The Harmonist Society Tour – Harmony & Old Economy
The Harmony Society was founded by George Rapp in the 1780s in Germany. This Christian Separatist group left Europe and established two settlements in Western Pennsylvania. The first, the quaint town of Harmony in Butler County and the second, Old Economy in Ambridge, Beaver County.
Historic Homes Tour – Oliver Miller Homestead, Walker-Ewing Log House, Fulton Log House, Neill Log House
Located in South Park, the Oliver Miller Homestead was the site where the first shots in the Whiskey Rebellion were fired. The Walker-Ewing Log House, located in Collier Township, was built in the late 1700s. Fulton Log House in Upper St. Clair was built around 1830 by Alexander Gilfillan and later came to be owned by the Fulton family. The Neill Log House is the oldest home in Pittsburgh and is located in Schenley Park. It was built in 1765.
Industrial Plant Tour – Carrie Blast Furnaces, The Waterfront
Not long ago our river banks were lined with industrial plants. With the shift in our economy, it’s becoming more difficult to find remnants of our manufacturing past, but two new developments pay tribute to that history. The Carrie Blast Furnaces in Rankin are the only non-operative blast furnaces remaining in the area and have been preserved. The Waterfront in Homestead, now an entertainment, shopping and dining destination, was once home to U.S. Steel’s Homestead Works. Today, you can see the towering stacks that have been left to commemorate the area’s steelmaking past.
Millionaires’ Row North Side Tour – Allegheny West
The Ridge Avenue area near the North Side campus of Community College of Allegheny County was once known as Millionaires’ Row and includes the mansions of Pittsburgh writers Gertrude Stein and Mary Roberts Rinehart, and the homes of other wealthy industrialists like Henry W. Oliver and William Penn Snyder.
Sports Tour -Forbes Field Outfield Wall, Honus Wagner House, Stan Musial & Ken Griffey’s Hometown
Before there was PNC Park and Three Rivers Stadium, there was Forbes Field in Oakland. Today, you can visit what remains of the ballyard–the outfield wall– in Oakland. Honus Wagner was one of the best Pirates to ever play the game. A hometown boy, he grew up in Carnegie on Beechwood Avenue. Donora is home to two stars of the baseball diamond—Stan Musial and Ken Griffey Sr. Musial grew up on 465 Sixth Street, and Griffey on Marelda Avenue.
By Janice Lane Palko
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