Happiness Highlights: Falling in Love with Pittsburgh

New York City. San Francisco. Pittsburgh.

One of these things seems like it doesn’t belong, but they are all cities I have eagerly anticipated visiting during our year of travel.

Yes, Pittsburgh.

Becky, one of our favorite people, lives in Pittsburgh and she has raved about her hometown for years. We were all looking forward to seeing her city through her eyes and especially excited to have a month to spend with her. (And I do mean we - Jared and the kids lover her as much as I do, if not more. Jared and Becky are like cosmic soul mates, which probably explains why they are both so important to me.)

Still, I was surprised how quickly we fell in love with Pittsburgh.

The city is beautiful. It was the first observation I made upon seeing the tree-covered hills and yellow bridges that connect the city across three rivers. You don’t expect a place built by coal, steel and iron industries to be beautiful, and yet it is. Undeniably.

We spent the week getting caught up on work, but we also made time for museums and sightseeing tours. We took the kids to their first college game and sat in on yet another family’s Sunday dinner.

There’s something unique about this town and its people that I haven’t quite been able to put my finger on. Jared and I keep struggling to describe it accurately to each other, this undefinable quality that makes this city so easy to love.

The history is fascinating and I can see why the people who live here are proud of their geographical heritage. But it’s more than a long list of accomplishments and notable citizens. It’s a rare blend of ingenuity and hard work seasoned with the salt of the Earth. It’s passion and heart without glamour. It’s a place driven as much by sports as by medicine and technology, as much by industry as culture.

It’s an anomaly and we love it, so much so that the four of us have agreed we could easily imagine calling this place home.

If only it didn’t get so damn cold here.

We’ll enjoy our autumn visit nonetheless.

What made you happy this week?

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  1. Lisa says:

    I so wish I was there to hang out with you guys! I’m glad you are enjoyig Pittsburgh so much. Just think how much easier visiting you & Becky will be for me if you’re in the same place. Because of course where you guys choose to make your next home is all about me ;-)

  2. makes me crazy happy that you appreciate my town and even could see yourselves living here. i am going to talk to God about the cold thing. see, i even know a church here in pittsburgh that houses the largest public collection of religious relics in the world (over 5000 relics…only second to the vatican, but their collection is technically private, right?), which is known to have miracles attributed to prayer there. (i loved sharing the experience of that visit to st. anthony’s with you. alarms, tears and all!)

    • also, it thrills me to read “It’s a rare blend of ingenuity and hard work seasoned with the salt of the Earth. It’s passion and heart without glamour. It’s a place driven as much by sports as by medicine and technology, as much by industry as culture.”
      because YES!, this exactly. you already know that and haven’t even been here that long. squeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!

  3. We just spent a week on Amelia Island, Tybee Island and Savannah! I was inspired by your photography and took a lot of black and white photos of all the iron balconies and gates in Savannah.

    I really prefer an interesting city with history over a city with glitz and glamour.

  4. Nobody™ says:

    Pittsburgh is awesome! I, too, have had the good fortune of having Becky show me the city through her eyes. I’d like to visit that city again.

  5. Peg says:

    I read the title to my post and instantly flashed back to a memory of one of the former grand prize winners of the Bulwar-Lytton Bad Writing contests. This little gem won top honors in 1987:

    The notes blatted skyward as the sun rose over the Canada geese, feathered rumps mooning the day, webbed appendages frantically peddling unseen bicycles in their search for sustenance, driven by Nature’s maxim, “Ya wanna eat, ya gotta work,” and at last I knew Pittsburgh.

    –Sheila B. Richter, Minneapolis, Minnesota (1987 Winner)

  6. Nicole says:

    I remember enjoying Pittsburgh when I visited, too. That was way back in high school, so it’s a little blurry, but it was a neat city nonetheless.

    What made me happy this week was evidence that my new fitness plan is working. :) The weight isn’t dropping off, but the fit test I did showed great improvement. Yay!

  7. Allyson says:

    Knowing that you’re there, falling in love with Pittsburgh, is making me happy. Not getting to watch the affair unfold personally, makes it bittersweet. If you have the chance, find Kilbuck St. in Emsworth (zip code 15202). It’s at the near top of a big hill known as Plummer St (Plumber? I remember making fun of the sign, I just can’t remember why). I walked up and down that hill everyday… for school, my paper route, I learned how to roller blade by rolling down that hill. I vaguely remember the directions… something about Ohio River Blvd to Center Ave to Plummer. And oooh! If you get the opportunity, visit Kennywood! Talk about fun and history – that place has so many unique and interesting rides.

    • you should come back and visit. i learned that my tiny house can hold a few kids and a few adults!

      • Allyson says:

        I will. I’ve been holding off on the big family vacations until both of my boys are 48″ because they hate missing out on anything. Also, I’ve been trying to decide which season is best for our first visit. All of them are so nice there for different reasons. Deep snow, colorful tulips, SandCastle Waterpark, autumn leaves on the mountainside… It’s enough to make a girl crazy with indecision. But I definitely want to visit you and introduce my children to your beautiful smiling face and warm heart.

  8. yinzrreadin says:

    What a wonderful post about the best city ever! We do need to do something about that cold weather though, I’m right there with you on that. I was lucky enough to attend your session during Pod Camp Pittsburgh this weekend and really appreciated what you had to say. I’m in one of those “mixed marriages” when it comes to technology so I related to a lot of the things you were talking about and really liked your advice!

  9. Wish I had been able to see you when you were here, but we’ll just have to meet up when you move here! :) I had no idea I missed Podcamp. It’s usually in October, I thought. Bummer. But so glad you had an awesome time.

  10. naomi says:

    happiness this week? making great progress on one of my 2011 goals … that and being able to celebrate some really great people.

  11. twinmamateb says:

    I call Pittsburgh home now after being raised somewhere else. I couldn’t ever imagine leaving- I love the grit, the people, my neighborhood (same as Becky’s) and the geography. Thank you for appreciating it as well!

    • wait. your neighborhood is the same as mine? why didn’t i know this? more importantly, why aren’t we hanging out?!

      • twinmamateb says:

        b/c you don’t follow me on twitter ;-) I’m in Ingram. I see you walking your dogs every once in a blue moon too, always too shy to wave from the car…

        • well, i remedied the not following you on twitter thing, now you need to remedy the not waving and hollering hi thing. after all, ludo and i can’t bite from the sidewalk and you have a car to protect you! not that i would bite anyhow…

  12. martymankins says:

    Someday… I must visit the home of Becky and see what you and your family saw. The photos show an amazing city.

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  14. Pittsburgh gets a bad rap. Much like you, I had a wonderful time there and found it to be full of beauty and charm. Plus a great robotics lab, but you probably didn’t visit that.

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