Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Not Done with Pittsburgh

I visited Pittsburgh this month and it was a blast. My visit confirmed to both me and Boyfriend that our time there isn't quite over yet- the city has a strange attraction to us both (though Boyfriend would love to uproot us to Seattle first, if he had the chance).

I love so many things about Pittsburgh, including its many neighborhoods with individual character, like this wall on the North Side that has both ghostly remnants of attached buildings, and shadows of other buildings around it. Boyfriend and I agreed that the city has one of the better-integrated racial mixes of many cities- not that it's all hunky-dory, but perhaps people from many races and cultures just happen to have to interact more here than in sprawling Denver.

Pittsburgh's mass-transportation, however, is a hot mess. The Port Authority bus system was bad when I lived there from '06 to '10, and it's gotten worse since I left (with the one exception of a new light rail over to the North Side from downtown so all the football fans can take a shuttle home drunk rather than driving). I waited for a bus that should have theoretically come every 15 minutes; 45 minutes later, I missed my meeting as the bus never showed.  Thankfully I was able to reschedule; I walked the whole way and arrived on time. Nowadays in Denver and Boulder, CO, I rarely have to wait more than 15 minutes for a bus to show up. Buses here are scarily efficient, but it does help to have a flat, gridded, and arid topography to work with, compared to Pittsburgh's vine-winding and hilly landscape. But that's something I love about Pittsburgh, so it's a blessing and a curse. What would a view of the Golden Triangle be without Mount Washington and its inclines.

I went to Pittsburgh for a premiere of a new work by Trillium Ensemble, which went spectacularly, and a friend's wedding, which also went spectacularly. Boyfriend saw some old friends from his days in Pittsburgh, and I saw some of mine. I conducted some Biznass about music and hoped to plan a trip back in the fall to guest lecture. We both got to visit Mattress Factory, where coincidentally we both have worked in the past and is one of the best art museums, hands down, in the world.
(On view: Nina Marie Barbuto's 'Glory Holes', part of the 'Gestures: Intimate Friction' exhibit featuring local artists' works.)

Pittsburgh is constantly popping up on the 'hot cities to watch out for'-type blogs and newspapers, and I can see why (aside from transit systems). The Andy Warhol Museum, cheap rents, big spaces, friendly hip places, and new stores appearing regularly. Phipps Conservatory (Botanical Gardens) is one of the most "green" and energy efficient greenhouse buildings in the world. They're adding a new building to the back which should be beautiful, behind this cascading pond and waterfall.

I even got to visit a place I had never been, but had always wanted to visit: Allegheny Cemetery. Known for its old mausoleums, winding paths, and lush greenery, it didn't disappoint. It was a post-rainy day, common to the city, and the skies were grey: perfect gravestone-viewing weather.  This tomb's the King of them all. Or at least houses the King family.

Perhaps one day I will have a reason to settle down here, maybe buy a house and work as an artist full-time. I would eat burgers all the time at the new Burgatory restaurant, and fancy cuisine at 'Salt of the Earth' (cuisine of the duck/sweetbreads/endive/polenta/cardamon/tartar varieties, but not all together in one dish, that would be so gross). Until then, I do love to visit, and thank all my friends, colleagues, and relatives for making it such a memorable trip.

1 comment:

jess said...

The Pittsburgh public transit mess makes me sad, too. I read recently that 25% of households in Pittsburgh don't have a car! I couldn't believe it was so high when the transit is as unreliable as it can be.