Two main highways cross Pennsylvania from East to West: I-76 or I-80 from Ohio through Pittsburgh to New Jersey. I drove on I-80, which was pretty rough in some sections, but without much traffic besides truckers and the occasional passenger car.
The highway winds through the Pennsylvania Wilds–millions of acres of unspoiled forest. I marveled at the different shades of green in the newly budded trees and could only imagine how breathtaking the drive must be in the Fall. The Pennsylvania Wilds are probably unmatched in beauty at that time of year.
Pittsburgh surprised me in many ways. Before I got there, all I knew about it were a couple of its professional sports teams–the Steelers and the Penguins–and its history in the steel industry. The city still has 300 related businesses, for which it is known as Steel City. It sits on the confluence of the Monongahela and Allegheny rivers, which come together to form the Ohio river. Pittsburgh holds the world record for its 446 bridges. It is definitely the City of Bridges, and they are beautiful.
I learned that the city is renowned for its health industry–it boasts several medical centers. It is also a center of learning with about 30 universities and colleges, including University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University. The University of Pittsburgh erected the largest building dedicated to learning, the 42-story Cathedral of Learning. The city is also a leader in green technology (with 10 of the world’s first green buildings), in finance and in high technology, such as robotics.
Pittsburgh has 1600 tech firms, including Apple, Google and Intel and many other national companies like Bayer, Nova and FedEx have large regional bases in the city. Surprisingly, the world’s first movie theater was built in Pittsburgh and the city now houses the largest sound stage outside of Los Angeles and New York. Disney and Paramount have offices there.
Many people born in Pittsburgh stay in the city or eventually return to settle down, so one runs into a good number of locals. It also has a good international flavor due to its varied history of immigrants over the past couple of centuries. I really liked that Pittsburgh is a small big city. Even though it is home to 29 skyscrapers and is the second largest city in Pennsylvania by population, it has been voted America’s “most livable city” a number of times.