Pillbox

The city of steel acts as a muse to many

Credit: Alexandre Kaspar | Photo Staff Credit: Alexandre Kaspar | Photo Staff Credit: Alexandre Kaspar | Photo Staff Credit: Alexandre Kaspar | Photo Staff

Do you ever feel that each time you re-visit a city, it has a new charm — a new look or a completely different feel? You get the feeling that something has changed. You keep asking yourself, “Why doesn’t this feel or look exactly like the last time I came here?” Well, as cities keep developing, something has to constantly change. But despite those changes, our beloved city of Pittsburgh countinues to welcome its visitors with a warm heart. This city, a muse of sorts, has been the guiding light to many people, famous and ordinary.

When thinking of Pittsburgh as an inspiring city, the first instinct of many people would be to ask, “Are we talking about the same Pittsburgh, the location of Carnegie Mellon?” It may be possible to name a place or two in Pittsburgh that is inspiring, but many newcomers feel that the city doesn’t get much better than that. As it turns out, this first instinct is less correct than you’d think.

Before exploring the places in Pittsburgh that are inspirational today, one should know a few things about the city in the past and how it has has always been strongly influential. We can start by looking at the time in history when Pittsburgh was a steel city, colored in somber tones and factory fumes. At this time, Andrew Carnegie realized the potential of the city and what it had to offer. He built an institution in 1896 that was dedicated to discoveries in the arts. Today, over 300 works of art are on display at the Carnegie Museum of Art. These include famous works such as Winslow Homer’s The Wreck and James A. McNeil’s Whistler’s Arrangement in Black.

Pittsburgh is a city of history — a history that has not and will not lose its importance over the years. While this city thrives on the arts, it is also a city of advancements; after all, Carnegie Mellon and UPMC are situated here.

Pittsburgh is a city full of outstanding geographical locations we often forget to appreciate, but they never fail to inspire young and old minds across the world, even today. Without sounding too cliché, the city seems like the most beautiful painting on a calm day — rivers, hills, valleys, bridges, tunnels, and tall buildings — it is one of the most magnificent skylines that still maintains an aged feel.

There are two inclines — Monongahela and Duquesne. The Monongahela Incline is a popular tourist spot, but if you want to reach the heart of Pittsburgh and let it be your muse, travel up the Duquesne Incline. It features one of the best and most breathtaking views — truly a picturesque spot.

Several photographers, musicians, filmmakers, and painters have been inspired by Pittsburgh in the past. This is probably why the city was ranked No. 3 among mid-sized cities by AmericanStyle magazine as a top art destination. Pittsburgh is not only home to creative venues like the Phipps Conservatory and the Carnegie Museums of Art and Natural History, but also the Andy Warhol Museum. Other unique inspirational spots include the Nationality Rooms of the Cathedral of Learning and the crazed yet thrilling Mattress Factory art museum. The cultural district of Pittsburgh is located downtown and is considered a hub for musical inspiration. Pittsburgh is home to five theaters, and the city even has a cabaret. A city with such a rich history and intense art and culture presence is undeniably inspiring.

The architecture and structure of Pittsburgh can also be inspirational. Being a beautiful mid-sized, hilly city at the confluence of two rivers makes the city a great place for architectural exploration. Pittsburgh also has more bridges than any other city in the world. Have you ever noticed that some of the bridges in the city are golden yellow? This is because the city’s colors are black and gold.

Another outstanding source of inspiration to several artists is the Fallingwater house designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, located just outside of Pittsburgh. As Spanish artist Felix de la Concha said, “It is one of the most photographed buildings in the world — it’s an icon.” Fallingwater is special because of the harmonious compositions of the landscape, which are very important to the mysterious nature of the building itself. There have been several artists who have made magnificent pieces of work on this beautiful structure: Kitty Spangler’s painterly “Bear Run Rocks”; Bill Zarvis’ untitled whimsical glass, wood, and stone sculpture; Adrienne Heinrich’s “Art Lives,” formed of moss, copper, and soil; Tiffany Whitfield’s macro-photograph of “Just Another Plant on the Wall”; and Ruthanne Bauerie’s altered photograph “From the Path.” The art speaks to us, bringing out different details.

Another famous artist is Akiko Kotani, who is popularly known for her work on organza (using silk markings) and dark upon light. Kotani has done a beautiful piece of work on the relationship of positive and negative spaces of Fallingwater. David Sparks’ photograph, “Reflecting Pool,” and Benjamin Thomas’ painting “Guest Pool Reflections,” are both inspired by the house and the guest pool. Wright’s design elements inspired Jay Ressler’s staircase photograph “Cantilevered Shadows.” Cynthia Cooley’s paintings “Spring Green” and “Spring Shadows,” one of which is shown in the house, suggest the location’s integration into the environment.

Pittsburgh does not only inspire works of art and creativity but is also home to famous sports teams like the Steelers, Pirates, and Penguins. These teams are historically strong and have become extremely influential in the sporting world. The Steelers have won six Super Bowl championships, and the Penguins were winners of the 2009 Stanley Cup. At any time, Pittsburgh residents can take a trip down to Heinz Field for some sporting inspiration.

Furthermore, Pittsburgh is home to state-of-the-art research and development. Not only are the incredible resources of Carnegie Mellon’s technology and computer science departments located in this city, but it is also home to one of the country’s best children’s hospitals. Discoveries in the field of medicine in Pittsburgh have been truly far-reaching.

We can see that works in all fields — medicine, the arts, sports, music, and more — have been inspired by Pittsburgh. The places listed above are suggestions of places that have truly moved people, famous and not, over time in this city. However, there is no fixed list of places which can serve to be your muse; you can find inspiration whereever and whenever you want. Pittsburgh has been the guiding light to many people, and it may become yours as well.