Pittsburgh in Pennsylvania, USA, is the second largest city in the state. It was my first time to Pittsburgh and we got picked up by my uncle who told me Pittsburgh is known as "The City of Bridges".
“What about ‘The Steel City’?” I asked.
“Yes they call it that too and that steel is used to make these bridges” he said.
Historically the city has been known for its steel industry but today its economy is mostly based on healthcare, education, technology , robotics, and of course financial services. In the mid 80’s Pittsburgh suffered economic troubles and the steel industry declined and the modern, economically strong Pittsburgh emerged. Today the housing market is relatively stable despite the subprime crisis.
In 2007, The Forbes magazine named Pittsburgh the 10th cleanest city and the following year the same magazine rated this as the 13th best city for young professionals to live. Last year The Economist named Pittsburgh as the most livable city in the US and the 29th most livable city in the world.
We were in Pittsburgh only for a day due to our tight schedule so my uncle turned out to be my source of information and guide. He took us to Mt Washington Point and as we looked down to the downtown area he pointed down to the rivers known as the Golden Triangle. “This is the Triveni Sangam – the convergence” he said. The site at the actual convergence is occupied by “The Point” which is a state park. The city itself is on the Allegheny Plateau, where the Allegheny River from the northeast and Monongahela River from the southeast come together to form the Ohio River. Everything around the river was covered in snow and the day we were in Pittsburgh, the 21st of Dec 09, was their shortest day. For all I know the rivers could have been frozen too but we got the snow flurries and so we had to keep moving.
We briefly saw the city courts which was adjacent to the central jail. That is good planning so your convicts don’t go at large en route to the prison, I thought. My uncle was taking us to Sri Venkateshwara temple at Penn Hills, the eastern suburbs. I couldn’t go all the way to Pittsburgh and miss this temple now could I?
This is one of the earliest Hindu Temples built in the US. This organisation was established in Aug 1975 and they received assistance from Tirupathi Devasthanam (TTD) in India for construction of the temple. The construction itself was completed within a year (1976) and daily worship is performed ever since. The temple has a small and a large auditorium which is rented for various ceremonies including weddings. Their dining hall can be rented along with the auditoriums or by itself. They also have a lot of cultural education happening such as various dance classes, yoga, Sanskrit classes, Vedanta, summer activities and youth camp. They have an up-to-date website so if you are interested, peek into www.svtemple.org for more information.
We offered our prayers and then we went to the Udipi Restaurant next door to the temple. Finding this restaurant brought me immense joy and nostalgic memories of Udipi. I have spent some good summer holidays with my grandparents in Udipi and finding a restaurant so far away from New Zealand and India was something that I had never imagined or expected. Finding anything associated with this name was soul satisfying to me.
We were heading home when we hit the traffic jam – not like the ones we find in Auckland on a regular day. This one seemed like the jams we find on state highways over our long weekends. I was told that people in Pittsburgh had “tunnel syndrome”. People driving in full speed slow down to almost a grinding halt before going through these tunnels. I found that most of the tunnels came into being as the bridges were built. Pittsburgh is the world record holder for bridges with piers and stands contained entirely within city limits, beating out Venice in Italy by only 3 bridges. Pittsburgh has 446 bridges in total.
There’s lot more to see and do in Pittsburgh. To name a few, there’s the national aviary across the Allegheny River which has over 600 of the world’s most incredible birds. At the warehouse district, on The Strip on Saturdays you can stroll through farmers markets and street fairs where you can find shops and exotic grocery stores that offer everything from kitchenware to costumes and Steelers merchandise to fresh flowers and fish. You can visit the Carnegie museums of art and natural history. This is a combination of 2 world renowned museums in one unforgettable visit.
Home to University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh is a major employer in the education sector. The largest employer in the city is the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (48,000 employees) and the University of Pittsburgh (10,700 employees). 8 of the fortune 500 companies also have their head quarters in Pittsburgh.
The home welcomed us to a large banquet that included some of my favorite dishes that my aunt put up. After catching up with the family and an overnight stay the following morning we flew out from Pittsburgh International Airport (PIA) which has been a major operator for US Airways since its inception in the 1940’s.
Approximately 6 kms south east of Pittsburgh is the Allegheny county airport located in West Mifflin. There are 3 other smaller airports around the city used by corporate jets and private aircrafts.
That is all I can tell you about my adventures. I will be back soon for sure. Until next time, be safe and enjoy the summer.
Rashmi Shenoy works with Hewlett Packard full time as a services account manager and writes for IWK in her spare time and can be contacted via Indian Weekender.