Where are Kevin and Ruth now? Rhede, Germany.

Where are Kevin and Ruth going next? Papenburg, Germany.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Pittsburgh Architecture Tour

We were offered the opportunity to do a private walking tour of downtown Pittsburgh with an architectural expert. We had done a similar architecture tour of Chicago back in May and had really enjoyed it, so we jumped at the chance.

At 10:00am, we walked across the river to the Fairmont Hotel where we met up with Al Tannler from the Pittsburgh History and Landmarks Foundation. We set out on a two hour tour of the downtown core.

Just across from downtown, you get a good view of PNC Park where the Pittsburgh Pirates play baseball.

New and old.

Dinosaur art? The H. J. Heinz company has had their global headquarters located in Pittsburgh for over 100 years.

PPG Industries also has their world headquarters in Pittsburgh. I bet you've always wondered what PPG stood for? It was the Pittsburgh Plate Glass Company. And of course their world headquarters are made of...plate glass!

Al, explaining some of the architecture to Ruth.

The 13 story United Steelworkers building. Unique because of the diamond shaped load bearing exterior walls which was very innovative when the building was constructed between 1961 and 1963. The structural engineers who did this building went on to do the twin towers of New York's World Trade Center.

The Bank Tower, built in 1902.

The Bank Tower has a beautiful original lobby. Notice half spiral staircase at the rear of the lobby.

Looking up the half spiral staircase.

Originally built as headquarters for the Aluminum Company of America (ALCOA), it was the first skyscraper built with an aluminum exterior facade. Very innovative when it was built in 1953, the exterior windows rotate 360 degrees so that the exterior of the windows can be cleaned from the inside of the building!

In the basement of the Koppers Building are the original wall hangings from France that have been there since 1929 when the building was constructed.

The courtyard of the Allegheny County Courthouse and Jail. The fountain water is dyed pink for breast cancer awareness month.

The courthouse structure is based on arches, and there are a lot of them!

Al, showing Ruth the first floor of the courthouse building.

Many thanks to Al Tannler and The Pittsburgh History and Landmark Foundation for showing us around. If you'd like your own tour, they hold regular guided tours every Friday at noon from May through September. Check their website at www.phlf.org

They also have a book available, called the Whirlwind Walk so that you can do a self guided tour and still have all the info you need.


  1. Nice approach to seeing a city. Hopefully you might find some more of this type of thing around the world. Sounds like a win-win. You get to see good architecture from a knowledgeable source and they get their city a bit of a promotion on your (well followed) blog.

    1. Most definitely! We would certainly recommend their tours. We saw things that we wouldn't have seen or known about if it wasn't for this tour. It's the little details that people would miss that can make a tour like this worthwhile.

  2. Thanks for the tour of Pittsburgh - we live in PA and have never visited the city - only a drive thru once - so we appreciated very much what you wrote about today. Barry asked this morning if we wanted to take the gravel road and meet up with you guys today!!!

    1. Connie, you and Barry will now have to take a day or two and come to see Pittsburgh yourselves. That gravel road was actually in good shape and very pretty at this time of year, just glad we weren't in Sherman when we did it!

  3. What a great banner photo. Great shot! You make everywhere you go someplace I want to see!

    May I share with you what's been keeping me from reading and commenting on blogs lately?

    "This Restless Life: a study of Central Coast California parks through photography, interpretive collage and stories" is a book project of which I'm in the midst. If you have the time and the inclination, would you take a look at my short video at http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1778487749/this-restless-life?ref=email to learn more about the project? If you like the project, would you share it with your network of friends and family? Thank you sincerely. (I have a link to the video at the top of my blog page too.)

    1. Thank you Levonne, glad you enjoyed the picture.

      We will take a look at the photo essay when we have a little more time (probably in a weeks time). I am sure it is great, as you take some beautiful shots.

  4. Great tour. Love all the interesting details.

  5. Dear Kevin & Ruth,

    Thank you for taking me along through the architechnical tour of my home town. I remember visiting a few of these buildings as a child with my father but obviously too young to appreciate the history. I would also like to thank Al Tanler for sharing his time and expertise. I hope to sign up for the tour the next time when visiting Pittsburgh.

    From a proud Pittsburgher,
    Pamela Kaufman

    1. Thank you for taking the time to comment Pamela. We enjoy hearing feedback on our posts. We loved our visit in Pittsburgh, we are often surprised about our perceptions of some cities. Pittsburgh was one of them. It is a beautiful city with many things to see and do. Al Tannler was excellent with showing us many of the hidden secrets of the city and it's architecture and would highly recommend him and the tour for anyone wanting to get a better feel for the city.


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