The Andie Summers Show

Mr. Rogers Style Duquesne Incline

I love Pittsburgh. My husband and I joked about that sentence never being said. At least not around the Philadelphia area. Until this weekend. My weekend in Pittsburgh. I am so pleasantly surprised.

My daughter attended volleyball camp at University of Pittsburgh (#H2P) this past weekend, and because it’s a good 4-5 hours away from our house I decided to make a weekend of it. So I invited my partner in crime, Jane. Jane is one of those friends who does the work to see the cool stuff. I drive. It’s a perfect relationship.

Weekend in Pittsburgh Day 1

Friday morning we dropped Tori and her friend Leah off at camp and then took 20 minutes to find a place to park. On our 10 minute walk uphill to meet the girls and get them settled in their dorm room, they called to let us know they were already whisked away and didn’t need us. I swallowed my pride (my baby doesn’t need me!) and trudged on.

Getting Lost

Fifteen minutes later, Jane and I found our car and decided to drive around campus instead of walking it. We may be geographically challenged, but we’re not stupid. It was 90 degrees and there isn’t down-hill in all of Pittsburgh. An anomaly that perplexes me but I swear to be true.

We saw the beautiful Pitt campus filled with athletes playing ball, jogging, looking fit. Then we drove to Carnegie Mellon University which was also abuzz with students, but they were carrying books not water bottles. Eventually we made our way to the “inclines.”

The Inclines

The Monongahela and Duquesne Inclines are funicular. I learned that word while I was riding them. According to Treehugger.com, both inclines are listed on the US National Register of Historic Places:

The supersteep, 635-foot Monongahela (Mon) Incline (1870) is the oldest continuously operating funicular in the U.S., and the 794-foot Duquesne Incline (1877) was rescued by preservation-minded local residents shortly after it was shuttered in the early 1960s.

The cars on the Duquesne Incline look like the trolly from Mr. Rogers Neighborhood, so I was in heaven!

We were sweaty puddles by the end of our day, so we grabbed some dinner and called it a night.

Weekend in Pittsburgh Day 2

Jane and I woke early Saturday morning to grab some breakfast and start our trek to Ohiopyle, Pennsylvania to see a couple homes built by Frank Lloyd Wright. What we learned is that Pittsburgh, or at least the section of Lawrenceville where we were staying, is a sleepy town and breakfast spots don’t open until 9am on the weekend. Disappointing. We grabbed a quick coffee and wrap togo on our way.

What is commonly referred to as “Pennsyltucky” is exactly what you would expect. I’ve lived in Pennsylvania my whole life. I grew up in a suburb of Wilkes-Barre and even went to college in rural Bloomsburg. After this weekend I claim Bloomsburg to be a booming metropolis compared to towns like Ohiopyle.

But I digress.

Fallingwater

Our first stop was to Fallingwater, a house built by Frank Lloyd Wright. Probably his most iconic project. Wright’s vision was about living with nature, so this house of cantilevers was built on a boulder in a stream surrounded by falls. It’s spectacular. As is the reputation of the Kauffman family who hired Wright to do the work. Edgar Kauffman, Sr. built Kauffman’s department store. What started as a massive stand alone store in Pittsburgh, branched out to many locations and was eventually bought by Macy’s.

The family made gobs of money from the department store’s success and used that money to buy and build houses around the country. Fallingwater was closest to Pittsburgh (about an hour-twenty today, I can’t imagine how long it took them in the 1930s) and the Kauffman family allowed their store workers to vacation at their home on their days off. The home boasts the main house with a kitchen and living room on the first floor, master quarters on the second floor, their son, Edgar, Jr’s retreat on the third floor, and a separate building for staff and visitors.

Jane and I spent several hours at Fallingwater. We took a tour of the grounds (Cody was a terrific tour guide) and a tour of the house (Brandon, equally as terrific).  If you’re planning a trip – maybe I convinced you – make sure you book months in advance. We were lucky to get in when we did.

Kentuck Knob

Next stop was to Kentuck Knob, another, lesser known house built by Frank Lloyd Wright. The home was built for the Hagan family who made their money in ice cream. (That sounds dreamy) They still serve Hagan Ice Cream on site. Jane and I learned of Kentuck Knob on the Fallingwater tour. It’s only six miles away, so we thought we’d go for it. We drove there, walked the grounds, and couldn’t find the house. Seriously. We never saw it. The grounds are filled with paths which are dotted with sculptures and even a piece of the Berlin Wall. We spent enough on tickets to Fallingwater and didn’t want to spend money on another tour, so we bypassed the welcome center when we arrived for fear of being charged. Well, we weren’t charged but we also never saw the house.

Dinner at The Church

Back to the Airbnb, showered, and off to dinner at The Church Brew Works. The structure is a big beautiful church that’s been renovated into a restaurant, but they didn’t ruin the integrity of the original building. They even used the pews to make the seating. Very cool vibe, delicious Pittsburgh food (get the pierogis!) and great drink offerings. Perfect way to finish the weekend in Pittsburgh.

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