Consider an Urban Adventure: Take a Walk Up on Mt. Washington in Pittsburgh

Outdoor Opportunities By COL(Ret.) Grey D. Berrier II

Wow! Occasionally, if you’re watching a national broadcast of a Pittsburgh baseball, football, or hockey game, they’ll show footage taken from a vehicle as it exits the Fort Pitt Tunnel heading into Pittsburgh from the Parkway West. It’s like you’re heading through this narrow corridor and suddenly the city just bursts into view in front of you. Someone once labelled Pittsburgh as “a city with a front door”, based on the way you suddenly come upon it, if you’re traveling in from the airport. I’ll never forget the first time I made that trip into the city from the Parkway West and it still is impressive to this day, especially at night. However, it’s not my favorite way to take in an impressive view of Pittsburgh. That’s from up on Mt. Washington! Back in July, my wife and youngest daughter decided to head out on a well-deserved, week-long vacation. I stayed home to watch our dog and work, but had my own slate of activities to keep me busy. On Sat., July 27, the plan was for my son and I to get together with my daughter and her husband at their place for dinner. I took down BBQ ribs I had prepared with a new recipe, so along with everything else, we enjoyed quite the family feast. It was a beautiful evening, so after we walked Shannon and Michael’s dog around their neighborhood in the South Hills, we decided to make the 6-mile drive up to Mt. Washington to watch the sunset. I’ve been up there at least a dozen times, but I never get tired of taking in the awesome view of Pittsburgh from up on Mt. Washington. We found on-the-street parking and made the short walk through the shops along Shiloh Street before coming out on Grandview Avenue near the top of the Monongahela Incline, which makes its way up the slope from East Carson St. by Station Square. We first walked a hundred yards over to the east to where Grandview Ave. ends to take in the sights of the Southside and the Monongahela Valley stretching into the distance. Then we leisurely strolled westward along Grandview Ave. for a little over a mile. We took in the sights of the entire city sprawling out in front of us, from the Cathedral of Learning at Pitt to our northeast, to the myriad of towering offi ce buildings downtown and Point State Park’s prominent fountain, across to the stadiums on the North Shore of the Allegheny River, and the expansive Ohio River Valley to our west. We watched a plethora of planes, trains, cars, trucks, helicopters, and boats go by in all directions. The well-known Gateway Clipper was out on the Three Rivers on a sunset sight-seeing cruise. That evening, the observation decks along Grandview Ave. were fi lled with organized dance parties, but we had plenty of opportunities to take in the sights and take photos of the city from the protective rails along the sidewalk on what’s called Grandview Scenic Byway Park. (The one observation deck on Mt. Washington has profound significance in our family, since that’s where Michael proposed to Shannon back on New Year’s Eve 2015.) As I took in the inspiring view, Pittsburgh’s significance from a historical, industrial, and cultural perspective based on its geographical location became readily apparent, along with its global relevance today as a prominent technological, financial, and medical center. Throughout the evening, it was fun to people watch as we walked by homes and buildings of a vast array of architectural designs and had a myriad of high-end vehicles pass us. Our “walk above the city” concluded at the famous larger-than-life statue of George Washington and the Seneca leader Guyasuta, where the two men met in October 1770. As we walked back in the darkness, the spectacle of the entire city lit up before us made the entire evening a memorable experience. Having missed our first urban adventure, we repeated our trek atop Mt. Washington with my wife and youngest daughter on August 12. If you’ve never taken the time to walk that stretch of Grandview Ave., you need to do it yourself sometime. It’s only an hour away and you’ll quickly learn why Grandview Ave. is appropriately named! God Bless, Be Safe, and Great Outdoors!

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