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A Breath of Fresh Air



The sky is blue; the city is green. Pittsburgh, once infamous for steel mills with smokestacks belching smog and smut, has transformed itself as it transitioned away from an industry-based economy.

Big City Living

The minute I got to my room in the Fairmont Hotel, I pulled back the curtains to check the view. Floor-to-ceiling windows looked out on a varied cityscape – from the 1784 Market Square and turn-of-the-last-century skyscrapers to the mirrored spires and pinnacles of the late 20th-century PPG Place, a collection of buildings reminiscent of Superman’s home on Krypton or the Ice Queen’s palace. Glimpses of the Monongahela River teased between the structures. I couldn’t wait to take to the streets to explore.

I’d been on planes all morning and I was hungry. Heading for Market Square, I spotted several possibilities. In a corner of the Square was a nondescript little building sporting a plaque. Going closer, I read, “Site of Bear Tavern 1827 Oyster House 1871-1971.” It’s still open, with just the fifth owner since 1871, and they still serve great oyster and fish sandwiches. I’d stumbled into Pittsburgh’s oldest bar – at 141, it was already a classic when Oklahoma became a state. And Market Square became one of my new favorite spots in one of my new favorite cities in the world.

Downtown Pittsburgh is squeezed into a triangle created by the Allegheny and Monongahela Rivers. The rivers lose their identities in their union to become the great Ohio. A walk through downtown Pittsburgh provides a tour of the art and architecture of the 19th, 20th and 21st centuries. Art works include stone, metal, glass, ceramics and murals and range from classical – like the 1888 lions at the iconic H.H. Richardson-designed Allegheny County Courthouse – and abstract, to comical and magical, i.e. Tony Tasset’s 2006 “Magnolias for Pittsburgh” – two bronze trees bearing approximately 800 hand-painted petals.



As impressive as the newer buildings are with their sleek design and shiny facades, Pittsburgh’s classic oldsters were most appealing to me. Up Liberty Street I stopped at Trinity Cathedral (1870-’72) and the English Gothic First Presbyterian Church (1903-05). Farther along this street are office buildings in styles from Italianate and Queen Anne to Richardsonian Romanesque and Classical Revival. In the midst of these beautiful old structures, a huge Brian Holderman (2006) mural in bright colors depicts a fanciful blend of the city’s past and future.

Pittsburgh needs to be viewed by pedestrians who have time to look up at the amazing ornamentation on some of the buildings – and who can walk inside to see details carefully crafted by artisans of an earlier day. The wedding-cake style of the Flemish/ Gothic Union Trust building was enticing, and the interior with its massive stained-glass skylight begged to be photographed. Entering the City-County Building on Grant Street, I admired the fish-scaled tile vaulting before going into the grand public corridor. Wow! They just don’t make buildings like that anymore.

Go for Green

Here’s what they are building in Pittsburgh these days: some of the most environmentally friendly, sustainable structures imaginable. My hotel – the Fairmont – is LEED Gold Certified. From start to finish, care was taken to ensure the highest standards possible. Ninety-nine percent of the waste accumulated during construction was recycled; products used were chosen for safety and sustainability and even shipping distances for items were calculated. But there’s nothing Birkenstocky-looking about the results. The Fairmont’s elegance and amenities earned it a 2012 AAA Four Diamond rating.

A highlight of the visit was a tour of the newly-opened Center for Sustainable Landscapes at the Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Garden. This building was planned to exceed requirements for LEED Platinum Certification by achieving net-zero energy consumption and water use. The architects and engineers have created a beautiful and useful space that sits as lightly as possible on the earth. And it harmonizes with both the site and the existing structures, including the original 1893 conservatory.

Pittsburgh boasts over three dozen LEED Certified buildings, including the world’s first LEED Certified (Gold) convention center. Construction is underway on the 30-plus story Tower at PNC Plaza, designed to be the world’s greenest skyrise.

City of the Future – and the Past

While Pittsburgh recreates itself as a city of the future, it has retained the flavors of its various small neighborhoods. One of the coolest areas is The Strip, a market district where you can chow down on the iconic Primanti sandwich – pastrami topped with slaw, tomatoes and French fries on Italian bread, a grab-and-go favorite of working Joes. At Pamela’s, I partook of presidential pancakes – crepe-like creations which are a favorite of President Obama.



All around town you’ll see things named for past Pittsburghers who helped build some of America’s biggest industries – names like Carnegie, Mellon, Frick and Phipps. No visitor should miss the Carnegie Museums; the Museum of Art; Natural History; Science Center and the Andy Warhol Museum.

Sports fans love the city, too. It offers major league baseball, football and hockey. The CONSOL Energy Center is the first LEED Certified arena in the National Hockey League.

For all its big city busy-ness, I found locals to be among the friendliest and most helpful folks I’ve met in my travels. I shared tables with strangers for al fresco lunches in Market Square. And a shop-owner (Nick Mancini of Mancini’s Bakery) turned his store over to an assistant to take me up the street and show me where his great-grandfather once owned a bakery. I thought we were friendly here in Oklahoma, but these people took hospitality to new heights.

Pittsburgh, once the pollution poster child, has grown into a shining example of progress at its best. And in my book, it’s a blue-ribbon destination.

 

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September 2018

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More than 20 speakers in a one-track session designed for the digital marketing professional, marketer, business owner or anyone interested in branding, PR, advertising, social media, SEO, search,...

Cost: $250

Where:
Tower Theatre
425 NW 23rd St
Oklahoma City, OK  73103
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Sponsor: BigWing
Telephone: 405.475.4185
Contact Name: Janelle Archer
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This year will mark the eighth time the John F. Kennedy Awards have been celebrated, honoring individuals making a significant contribution to Oklahoma, its communities and its people, while paying...

Cost: $300

Where:
Skirvin Hilton Hotel
1 Park Ave.
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
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Sponsor: Santa Fe Family Life Center
Telephone: 405-840-1817
Contact Name: James Timberlake
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More than 20 speakers in a one-track session designed for the digital marketing professional, marketer, business owner or anyone interested in branding, PR, advertising, social media, SEO, search,...

Cost: $250

Where:
Tower Theatre
425 NW 23rd St
Oklahoma City, OK  73103
View map »


Sponsor: BigWing
Telephone: 405.475.4185
Contact Name: Janelle Archer
Website »

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Price Tower Art Gallery in Bartlesville will host Women Artists of the West's 48th annual juried art exhibition, featuring over 200 original art works, created by women in all mediums, subjects...

Cost: Free 2018-09-21,22,23

Where:
Price Tower Art Gallery
510 S. Dewey Ave.
Bartlesville, OK  74003
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Sponsor: Price Tower Arts Center
Telephone: 918.336.4949
Contact Name: Angelina Bourgou
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Escape the ordinary, and learn about OKC from a different point of view. Relax in the climate controlled cabin on one of our 65’ cruisers, or enjoy the breeze on the viewing deck and listen...

Cost: $15 for Seniors and kids under 12, $20 Adults

Where:
Regatta Landing
701 S. Lincoln Blvd.
OKC, OK  73109
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Telephone: 405.702.7755
Contact Name: Business Office
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A fabulous art auction to raise money to help support Oklahoma A+ Schools at UCO.

Cost: $100

Where:
CHK|Central Boathouse
732 Riversport Dr.
Oklahoma City, OK  73129
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Sponsor: Oklahoma A+ Schools at UCO
Telephone: 405.974.3791
Contact Name: Heather Bryant
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The evening Cocktail Cruise offers stunning views of the downtown skyline, the Boathouse District and Finish Line Tower, the Wheeler Ferris wheel and quite possibly an amazing Oklahoma sunset. Come...

Cost: $15 for Seniors and kids under 12, $20 Adults

Where:
Regatta Landing
701 S. Lincoln Blvd.
OKC, OK  73109
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Telephone: 405.702.7755
Contact Name: Business Office
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Join supporters in communities across the nation for the St. Jude Walk/Run to End Childhood Cancer during Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. This family-friendly event raises funds to support the...

Cost: $10 for adults or children six and older

Where:
Stars and Stripes Park
3701 S. Lake Hefner Drive
Oklahoma City , OK  73116
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Telephone: 405.403.7762
Contact Name: Emily Drover
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Let’s end childhood cancer. Together! This September, supporters across the country will unite to participate in the St. Jude Walk/Run to End Childhood Cancer, an exciting, family-friendly...

Cost: $10 for Registration

Where:
Stars and Stripes Park
3701 S Lake Hefner Dr
Oklahoma City, OK  73116
View map »


Sponsor: ALSAC St. Jude Oklahoma City
Telephone: 405.403.7762
Contact Name: Emily Drover
Website »

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Price Tower Art Gallery in Bartlesville will host Women Artists of the West's 48th annual juried art exhibition, featuring over 200 original art works, created by women in all mediums, subjects...

Cost: Free 2018-09-21,22,23

Where:
Price Tower Art Gallery
510 S. Dewey Ave.
Bartlesville, OK  74003
View map »


Sponsor: Price Tower Arts Center
Telephone: 918.336.4949
Contact Name: Angelina Bourgou
Website »

More information

Escape the ordinary, and learn about OKC from a different point of view. Relax in the climate controlled cabin on one of our 65’ cruisers, or enjoy the breeze on the viewing deck and listen...

Cost: $15 for Seniors and kids under 12, $20 Adults

Where:
Regatta Landing
701 S. Lincoln Blvd.
OKC, OK  73109
View map »


Telephone: 405.702.7755
Contact Name: Business Office
Website »

More information

The evening Cocktail Cruise offers stunning views of the downtown skyline, the Boathouse District and Finish Line Tower, the Wheeler Ferris wheel and quite possibly an amazing Oklahoma sunset. Come...

Cost: $15 for Seniors and kids under 12, $20 Adults

Where:
Regatta Landing
701 S. Lincoln Blvd.
OKC, OK  73109
View map »


Telephone: 405.702.7755
Contact Name: Business Office
Website »

More information

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