This is the Starting Point. The Heinz Hall Plaza
We are going to take a walk around the Pittsburgh Cultural District. We are going to start our tour at the intersection of 6th. Ave. and Liberty Ave. Looking around you will see a fenced area. This is the Heinz Hall Garden. There are two very nice water features in the garden. If you are lucky the gates will be open.
Let’s start our walk down Sixth Ave. toward the Allegheny River. That will put the garden on our right side. We will walk past the magnificent Heinz Hall. Home to the world famous Pittsburgh Symphony. The building itself is a Historic Landmark by the Pittsburgh History and Landmark Foundation. This was once the Loew’s Theatre.
Continuing our walk crossing Penn Ave. we will come to the last buildings on 6th Ave. This was once the Fulton Building and the Fulton Theater. It is now the Renaissance Pittsburgh Hotel and the Byham Theatre. The Byham is owned and operated by the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust, as are many of the building and venues we will see on our walk. Let’s cross Fort Duquesne Blvd toward the bridge. I want you to see a mural painted on the building just to the right. The original Fulton Theatre Building. Look around. PNC Park is just across the river, home of the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Now let us cross Ft. Duquesne Blvd retracing our steps toward Penn Ave. At Penn Ave. we will make a left turn and walk up Penn Ave. There are several restaurants along the way many with sidewalk seating. The first point of interest is the O’Reilly Theater Building. This is a newly constructed building housing the O’Reilly Theater. A very intimate setting in a horseshoe with the stage protruding into the audience. A venue owned and operated by the Trust and home to the Pittsburgh Public Theater. The next building is Theater Square. A night spot, a restaurant, a parking garage all housed in this a Trust owned building. Also newly constructed. As you walk you will hear music. Continuing your walk will bring you into Katz Plaza. Walk a little further and turn round and look up. Here is a LED sign advertising future events of the Trust. A very large water feature and many smaller art objects are on display in the plaza. As you look at the water feature, to your left and toward the rear of the plaza is a window among several tables and chairs. In this window sits the Disk Jockey for our Public broadcasting station WQED FM. A classical music station. Turning our selves around and looking across the street is the crown jewel of the Cultural Trust. The Benedum Theatre. Try and find the Historical marker designating the location of the signing of the charter to form the Independent Democratic nation of Czechoslovakia on May 31, 1918.
Continuing along Penn Ave crossing 7th street is a small parklet. Walking along you will find several store fronts used by the Trust to display traveling art works. If you are lucky you might find one open. The evening and weekends are the best times. As you walk along look for brass plaques on some of the buildings. Each plaque describes a short history of that particular building and surrounding area. As you continue your walk you will find a store front at 819 Penn Ave. called the “Future Tenant”. This is one of several store fronts along the tour owned by the Trust to display traveling art exhibitions.
We come now to 9th Street. Find the historical Marker showing the site of Fort Lafayette. Built to protect the city of Pittsburgh from the Indians. Let’s walk down 9th St. toward the river. If glance across the street to your right, you will find Pittsburgh’s only downtown Gentleman’s Club, Plush. Walking toward the river, the last building on the right is CAPA. A Pittsburgh Public school for the creative and performing arts. Cross Fort Duquesne Blvd. again and turn around and look at the school. Notice the LED display. This art work is designed and produced by the students. A little to your left is the Pittsburgh Convention Center. We will see this again. Look around, the building across the river is the World Headquarters of Alcoa. Notice the seating and the trees along Fort Pitt Blvd., all a project of the Trust and the City. The three bridges crossing the river are affectionately called the “Three Sisters”. All built at the same time and all historic landmarks. They are named, the farthest is the 6th Street then the 7th Street and the last the 9th St.. They each have been given proper names also.
Starting with the 6th – Roberto Clemente, then the Andy Warhol and the 9th being the Rachel Carson Bridge. The Andy Warhol Museum is across the 7th Street bridge on the right. Worth a visit.
Lets again retrace our steps toward Penn Ave. Turning left on Penn at 931 Penn Ave. look at the marker on the building, this is one of the plaques I mentioned earlier. This particular block had the facades refurbished and lighting arranged so as to show off the facades. Better seen in the evening.
As you walk past another restaurant with outdoor seating and also a Hotel. We now have arrived at 10th St and Penn Ave. This is the entrance to the David L. Lawrence Convention Center. Pay particular attention to the running Green LED lights between the two tallest points of the Convention Center. Try and read the message displayed by these running lights. Another sight better seen in the evening.
Walk toward the convention center. You will see a walkway between the streets. A trip worthwhile down the path leading to the Allegeny River. After your visit return to Penn Ave. Let us now walk up 10th St. away from the convention center toward Liberty Ave. The buildings in front of you are, leftmost – the Moorehead Federal Building then the Pittsburgh branch of the Cleveland Federal Reserve and in front the August Wilson Center for African American Cultural. A newly constructed building dedicated to the artistic contributions of the African American population, very much worth a visit. Turning right on Liberty Ave. and continuing your walk you will come upon several sculptures of musicians acting as guards to the building. Something you cannot miss, they are over 10 feet tall. Look across the street at the large mural. Walking along Liberty you will notice large letters spelling “SPACE”. This is the largest of the traveling art exhibit venues of the Trust. Your walk will now bring you to the Harris Theater. A place that the Trust uses to show Foreign and other Artsy films not shown in the public theaters. This is home to the Pittsburgh Filmmakers’. This particular theater has a very interesting past. Starting out as one of the only theaters in downtown Pittsburgh to a seedy XXX theater until it was purchased by the Trust and converted into what it is now. There is another Historic plaque at 811 Liberty Ave. The offices of The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust are located at 801-803 Liberty Ave. Look in the window, notice the antique ticket booth. Across the street is the Wood Street Galleries. On the second floor another venue of traveling art. Worth a visit. The entrance is on Wood Street. On the first floor is a station stop for the Pittsburgh Port Authority’s Transit System, the “T”.
Walking along Liberty Ave. crossing 6th Street you find EQT Plaza. Entering the Plaza you will again find several art exhibits. Also you will be able to see the LED Sign advertising the Trusts events, Katz Plaza and to your right the Benedum Theater. As we leave the Plaza and turning right we will come to the end of our walk ending at our starting point.
If you feel up to it there is two more attractions unique to Pittsburgh. Walking along Market Street away from the Theater with the park on your right. Walk across Fifth Ave. you enter Market Square. This is Pittsburgh’s newly remodeled center City Park. If you are hungry there are several restaurants, several with sidewalk dining. During lunch this is a gathering point for people watching –girls. Notice in the center of the park, the Big and Little Dipper are depicted in lights.
Continue walking South along Market Street and crossing Fourth Ave. This is the PPG Plaza. You will first notice the tall obelisk in the center. Surrounding the obelisk is a fountain shooting water out of the plaza surface in a predesigned pattern. If you have your kids with you they allow you to run through the fountain. Enjoy. You are on your own to get back home.