May 17, 2018

First Trip to Pittsburgh… Loved It!

A few months ago, I was asked to present at a conference in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and I was delighted to accept for several reasons. Primarily, it was an honour to be selected at this conference which attracts physicians from all over the world, and secondly, I’d never been to Pittsburgh. One of my closest friends is from there, so she offered to join me for the several day trip, and show me her town. It’s about a four-hour drive from Baltimore, and we knew we’d need a car, so we drove out there on Sunday afternoon.

The meeting was held at the University of Pittsburgh, so that was our first stop. One of the first buildings I spotted was the massive (40 story) Cathedral of Learning, which is still used as classroom space and has a massive half-acre, four story Gothic study hall. Of course, we made plans to visit. Day 1  (4)

We parked next to the Soldiers & Sailors Memorial Hall, just around the corner from the Cathedral. Buildings like these never fail to leave me in complete awe of those who built them! The detail and craftsmanship is incredible, and you just don’t find this anymore.Day 1  (3)Day 1  (5)

As we walked to dinner, I had a chance to look at some of the city’s more contemporary buildings, like the PPG Glass Palace, Gateway Health and others. Day 1  (8)Day 1  (9)Day 1  (7)

We took a spin across the river after dinner to look at the city from the heights on the other side. You can see where the three rivers come together in the first picture, and we stayed right by the brightly-lit building.Day 2  (74)Day 2  (76)Day 2  (77)

After my presentation the next morning, we headed over to the Cathedral of Learning and their International Rooms, a series of rooms donated by various nations and completely outfitted in national architecture and design. Each room was designed to reflect the nation before 1800 which is when the University of Pittsburgh was founded, and all are strictly non-political.

It’s magical! Although all of the Tudor-style doors are marked with the name of the room, you’re given a master key to all of the rooms, and when you open the doors, you are delighted by what’s behind them! The ceilings, doors, windows, fireplaces, and other details all reflect the room’s home country. Let’s take a look.

Ceilings, which range from almost plain to incredibly elaborate!Day 2  (11)Day 2  (14)Day 2  (18)Day 2  (30)Day 2  (38)Day 2  (48)

Doors, which all were about three inches thick, and Tudor-style on the outside.Day 2  (13)Day 2  (15)Day 2  (19)Day 2  (23)Day 2  (28)Day 2  (34)Day 2  (37)Day 2  (43)Day 2  (46)

Windows in so many various styles!Day 2  (10)Day 2  (20)Day 2  (22)Day 2  (29)Day 2  (39)Day 2  (40)Day 2  (42)

Day 2  (32)Other detailsDay 2  (12)Day 2  (16)Day 2  (24)Day 2  (27)Day 2  (49)Day 2  (52)Day 2  (63)Day 2  (67)

These images will give you an idea of the scale of the building!Day 2  (54)Day 2  (68)

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Look where the finger is pointing to see the scale of a man against a massive door!Day 2  (53)

After we left Pittsburgh, we took a road which ran vaguely parallel to the Pennsylvania Turnpike. I had heard about the Flight 93 Memorial and was curious to see it. I really had no idea of the terrain where the plane went down on 9/11, and thought it would be nice to pay my respects. It was absolutely gut-wrenching.Day 3  (24)

The crash site is at the top of a “mountain” which had been strip-mined, and so is pretty desolate. You can see for miles from the top, and the wind is constantly blowing. The memorial itself is very stark, with 20-foot high concrete walls, impressed with tree-bark and it’s more than two miles off the road. Day 3  (27)

A local stone path follows the progression of both the day and the plane, with incriptions when each plane hit, and leading visitors to the overlook where the crash site is located. Day 3  (22)

At the end, an inscribed glass panel tells of the difference a day made: A common field one day. A field of honor forever. Day 3  (23)

Inside the visitors center, media from the morning of 9/11 played, with clips from the late Peter Jennings and from Katie Couric. There were also the voicemails from people on the plane to their loved ones, but, in all honesty, I couldn’t bear to listen to them.

One of the artifacts that really made an impact on me was the mangled and twisted cutlery from the plane, which had hit the ground at more than 500 miles per hour. Day 3  (26)

Although it was a quick trip, I really liked Pittsburth a lot and hope to go back before too long!


  1. Hello Meg, Thanks for the tour--so many interesting details and buildings, including some handsome new ones that are not just masses of twisted titanium! Did you get to see the Foster Memorial, which is somehow attached or next to the Cathedral, with displays and memorabilia of composers Stephen Foster and Ethelbert Nevin? I have always thought Foster to be America's greatest musical genius, with Scott Joplin as a close runner-up.

  2. I've been saying it for years - Pittsburgh is awesome! Proud Pittsburgher :-) (not a yinzer, thats a different thing, haha)

  3. We love Pittsburgh but haven't been back for a while. What a fabulous trip you had, Meg! Love all your pictures. It's making me want to go soon!

  4. Oh my! Almost all the way through I was thinking: HOW AMAZING! But at the end I could not help weeping....I still get very emotional over 9/11. Thank you for sharing, Meg!

  5. Meg, I thoroughly enjoyed the photos and narrative of your Pittsburgh trip. The architecture is phenomenal. I am ashamed to say that I have never been since my dad and his ancestors hail from there.


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