24 Hours In The Steel City (USA Day 18)
Squashed between two enormous jags of steep hill that drop to the Monongahela and the Allegheny rivers, downtown Pittsburgh is cute, yellow and welcoming. Its population is small, only 300 thousand, and fiercely proud of the Steelers, Penguins and Pirates, all of whom have won large and significant trophies in living memory. As we wandered the streets of its cultural quarter we thrilled at the diversity of the people we passed: families, gangs (who said ‘hi’), great groups of college kids from every imaginable background, two consecutive theatres boasting drag queens as their star act. A festival was occurring, which meant that Point State Park was bubbling with music and sculpture, a troupe of French dancers were setting up a Transformers-style lorry by a fountain and when the wind changed we heard the boisterous booms of a far-off stage performance.
Seeking sustenance and a chance for recovery, we plonked ourselves in a donut shop and went through our weeks of pictures and video (the latter of which is coming soon – I promise!), listening to the table of military veterans to our right talk about the various opiates that they’d been prescribed, and complaining about how awful they made them feel.
The Deutsch quarter, which felt crumbly yet colonial, had sullen men stalking the street corners which made lingering to take photos both difficult and unappealing. Nevertheless, the steep streets were beautiful.
We wandered back up to our host’s hilltop house: a ground-floor room with an incredible view down to the main city, and ate acres of spaghetti with the basket(ti)ball final on. Within a single day, we felt like naturalised Pittsburghians. How strange that despite our new nomadic lifestyles, we can fit so quickly into the pace of a city.