Here are ten favorite places to photograph, record or paint in Pittsburgh. In other words, the following are places that provide a great city view.
A big part of its beauty started a long time ago when glaciers started cutting out the valley that the city was later built in. Was it a million years ago, 500,000 years ago or 250,000 years ago that this area was carved out? Does it really matter?
Not necessarily, as today we are talking about what Pittsburgh offers now. To be honest, the fact that we are the greenest city in the country has a lot to do with our great city planners and topography. The hills provide us with many green areas where it just doesn’t make sense to develop, so from every angle you see the green spaces mixed in with the houses and other structures that make up the city.
As far as the friendliest city is concerned, you can easily experience that for yourself. Take a trip to Pittsburgh and ask for directions and you will most likely be lucky enough to experience the friendly side of the Burgh when the person offers to have you follow them to your destination even though it is not the direction they were headed.
To understand why Pittsburgh is a great city for photographers and artists, all you have to do is pick up a local calendar or one of the many Pittsburgh photo books and look inside at the beautiful scenes of Pittsburgh. Head to our Shop section in the website menu to get mugs, postcards, and more with Pittsburgh scenery.
Let’s talk about our favorite Pittsburgh photo locations.
#1 The West End Overlook
Or as it is now called, The West End/Elliot Overlook
From this view you have the opportunity to look down at the Point to see how nicely the Allegheny and Monongahela Rivers join together to frame the city. If you are looking to capture a photo of the city from this vantage point, it is best to try anytime from late afternoon and on. At that time of day, the sun is setting behind where you will be standing and the buildings will change in color from a clear natural look to a golden glow. As the sun sets and the lights of the city turn on, a beautiful night shot is yours for the taking.
#2 The Upper Platform of the Duquesne Incline
To get the best photo from this vantage point it is best to be there in the afternoon. The exact time is tricky because the shadows change with the seasons. City shots can be taken with any focal-length lens but a wide-angle lens will enable you to capture the city and the incline.
#3 Walk the North Shore
From the Rivers Casino, past the Carnegie Science Center, Clemente Memorial Park and PNC Park to the Rachel Carson Bridge, you’ll have lots of opportunities to take some great photos of the Point to the Convention Center. The Pittsburgh Convention Center is the first “green” convention center in the world. If you walk the North Shore corridor a few times, you will have a chance to see how drastically the city changes as the light changes. It’s a great way to spend the day. Look at our article about The Walking Tour of the North Shore for more information about this view.
#4 Grandview Avenue
Grandview Avenue offers you another great walking and photo opportunity. Make sure you have your walking shoes on if you get to Grandview Avenue via the Monongahela or the Duquesne Incline. The advantage of doing the Grandview Avenue walk (about 1.5 miles) over the North Shore jaunt are the number of great watering holes on Grandview Avenue. Both, though, offer unique views of the city. Additionally, if you don’t want to walk you can always drive and most time you can find a parking spot close by. Saturday is the busiest day on Grandview Avenue. Besides the locals and tourists enjoying the views, it is the number one spot in the city for wedding parties to have their group photos taken with the city as a backdrop.
#5 Point State Park
Point State Park will give you an opportunity to relax. Sitting by the fountain on a hot summer day is the ideal place to cool off in the city. If you are interested in history, Point Park is the site of Fort Duquesne and Fort Pitt. There are a few walls remaining from the original structure of Fort Pitt. The Fort Pitt Blockhouse is the only remaining structure still intact from the days of Fort Pitt. It was built in 1764 and is the oldest authenticated structure west of the Allegheny Mountains. The Blockhouse is managed by the Daughters of the American Revolution.
The fountain at the Point has been a Pittsburgh symbol since it was completed in 1974. An interesting fact about the fountain is that the water in the fountain does not come from the three rivers surrounding it but from an underground subterranean fourth river 54 feet below the surface of the Point. The fountain is illuminated at night and at various times of the year it is tinted a different color. Pittsburgh is the only city in the United States that has a fountain as the focal point and symbol for the city. This is a great spot to photograph fireworks, riverboats, the fountain itself, the Blockhouse, Heinz Field, and so much more.
#6 The Bike Trail by Station Square
Don’t think that the only views you have of the city are from Mount Washington. While you’re at Station Square you may want to jump on the Monongahela Incline or ride your bike a little further to the Duquesne Incline. You can ride up the side of Mount Washington to take a photo or two from the top. Both the Monongahela and Duquesne Inclines allow you to take your bike on the incline with you if space allows. From Station Square you can walk down the trail towards the Fort Pitt Bridge and you’ll be rewarded for your efforts with some great views. As always, be careful on the trails.
#7 From the River/On the Water
There are many sightseeing cruises in the area, as well as private tour guides available for reservations. The river boats provide interesting views of the city which change as you go along. Spending the day traveling up and down the three rivers is a great way to experience many diverse views of the city.
#8 West End Bridge
Many of the bridges in the area were designed for walkers. One of the bridges that makes this Top 10 list is the West End Bridge that crosses over the Ohio River approximately a mile south of the Point. The bridge is located right below the West End/Elliot Overlook. The overlook and the bridge provide very different views because of the very different elevations.
#9 31st Street Bridge
Take a stroll on the 31st Street Bridge which crosses over the Allegheny River and provides a bird’s eye view of Washington’s Landing/Herr’s Island. This is a spot where George Washington was said to have spent a night after his raft capsized on a mission during the French and Indian War and is now a shining example of urban redevelopment in the city. At various times throughout the year, if you are lucky, you will see one of the city’s many crew teams training for their next event along with the usual river traffic.
#10 Liberty Bridge
From the Liberty Bridge, high above the Monongahela River, you’ll have another great view of our city. Depending upon where you stand, you might be able to get a view of Heinz Field in the background. Go there in the evening and you’ll have a chance to take some pretty dramatic photographs especially when it is a fireworks night.
We hope to have given you a way of feeling a little more at home in this beautiful city whether you are a local Pittsburgher, a tourist or a student. Here’s hoping the days will all be sunny and you will bring a friend along to help you carry your gear and share in the Pittsburgh experience.