Beauty in Pittsburgh

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Late yesterday afternoon Ray and I returned from a dream vacation. Perhaps you could say that it all started on a Sunday morning last summer. One of our youngest daughter’s children told me about a trip their family was planning. They were going to Pittsburgh to see all things Mister Rogers. I didn’t say it, but deep in my heart, I thought, “Oh, I so want to go, too.” Knowing how much they love him, I wanted to see them experience all things Mister Rogers in person.

To Ray’s and my delight, our daughter called that afternoon and asked if we would like to go. Did we ever! You see, that trip to Pittsburgh actually began long ago in Oxford, Mississippi, when Ray and I began watching Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood with our children. When grandchildren first started coming to Notty and Little’s house for sleepovers, we began our tradition of hotdogs, applesauce, apple juice, chips, and Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood.

Ray and I had not forgotten about Mister Rogers in between watching his show with our children and watching it with our grandchildren. While we were homeschooling, our whole family had been excited to see one of his sweaters at the Smithsonian. After Rogers’ death, Ray and I began reading about him. We were deeply impressed with the genuine, gentle man behind the sweater. When we chose 30 influential Americans to feature for biographies in America the Beautiful, we chose Mister Rogers for our biography of someone involved in television. By the time the documentary “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” came out in 2018 and the movie “It’s a Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood” came out in 2019, we were longtime fans and were grateful that so many other people were having a chance to learn about the man we had come to respect so much.

Last Wednesday morning we nine piled into the company van so that we could all ride together and drove nine hours to Pittsburgh. I spent every minute there and back beside one or two rotating grandchildren. It was a delight.

Our tired crew dragged into our Airbnb last Wednesday night. The next morning we headed to beautiful downtown Pittsburgh. Our main destination for the day was the Senator John Heinz History Center, which is home to many important artifacts from Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood and many items of clothing from Rogers’ life off-camera. Our pre-purchased tickets for the Heinz were at 10 so we had enough time for a quick visit to Point State Park. I have many gems to share with you about the Mister Rogers portions of our trip, but today I want to begin this series by “taking you” with us to Point State Park.

The park is on Pittsburgh’s Golden Triangle, which is at the confluence of the Monongahela, Allegheny, and Ohio Rivers. At the tip of the Golden Triangle is a literal point where Pittsburgh has built a beautiful fountain. In this photo, you can see Heinz Field across the river. It is home to the Pittsburgh Steelers and the University of Pittsburgh Panthers. You can also see one of Pittsburgh’s 446 bridges. One of Pittsburgh’s nicknames is City of Bridges. The city has more than any other city in the world, even more than Venice, Italy.

Point State Park Fountain

Point State Park is a National Historic Landmark. The point was so strategically important that the French built Fort Duquesne here in 1754. The French destroyed Fort Duquesne in 1758 during the French and Indian War. The British built Fort Pitt here in 1761. The only structure remaining from Fort Pitt is its Block House, built in 1764.

Fort Pitt Block House

Fort Pitt served as the western headquarters of the Continental Army during the American Revolution. The Daughters of the American Revolution have owned this structure since 1894.

With other museums on our agenda for the weekend, we did not visit the 12,000 square foot Fort Pitt Museum located in the park, but we would like to do so someday. The joy on that Thursday morning was simply watching our grandchildren relish the beautiful fountain while drinking in the beauty of the rivers God created beside it.

During the trip we saw many beautiful buildings. Our ten-year-old granddaughter really enjoyed the architecture. She thought old buildings were much prettier than new ones and wondered why this was true. Our little tour group talked about beauty. We talked about the importance of beauty and that God wants us to think about things that are lovely. That was easy to do beside the beautiful rivers and fountain.

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true,
whatever is honorable, whatever is right,
whatever is pure, whatever is lovely,
whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence
and if anything worthy of praise,
think about these things.
Philippians 4:8


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