Voyaging: A Photo Excursion in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Voyaging: A Photo Excursion in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Pittsburgh, PA is a lively, historic and beautiful town that’ll make you not want to leave. If yinz haven’t been there yet, you must go as soon as possible.

When I was getting into photography, one of the earliest bodies of work I saw was a collection of phenomenal black and white photos, taken in Pittsburgh, by W. Eugene Smith.

Pennsylvania Macaroni Company
Pittsburgh, PA

It was through Smith’s vision and subject matter in Pittsburgh, during the 1950s, that I was made aware just how dynamic and incredible a photograph could be. The tones and subject matter of that project are nothing short of photographic mastery, to the point that they still remain beyond incredible. Those images have not only stood the test of time, they’ve still exceeded any photographic standards that there may be.

Fast forward to 2012. My roommate at the time (who is actually a buddy that I consider more family than friend—we’ve been friends since the age of five) and I were watching a food show together. On that show a famed Pittsburgh sandwich was featured. This sandwich was a spectacle of sandwich artistry that was formed in the kitchen of an establishment called Primanti Brothers.

Pittsburgh, PA

The sandwich was a work of layered genius. What really drew our attention to the stacked beauty was the heaping helping of fries that were buried among the stacks of other ingredients—cabbage, capicola, egg. From the time we watched that episode, we’d told ourselves that someday we’d make our way to dine on that sandwich.

After the planning of our sandwich pilgrimage and quest, we’d landed on the month of February of this year that we’d finally make the time to travel to Pittsburgh, and the Primanti Brothers sandwich.

Of course, we’d looked forward to all the sights and places we’d encounter while we were there, but the sandwich was the catalyst for our expedition.

We’d started from home in the northwest lower peninsula of Michigan and, after having stayed in Cleveland, OH for the night, and stopping at a brewery just outside of Pittsburgh en route, had arrived in the Steel City on the very next day.

Pittsburgh, PA

Immediately, upon entering the city limits of Pittsburgh, I couldn’t believe what an amazing place this was. There were hills of houses and structures, bridges everywhere, roads converging and diverging and an energetic vibe that felt pulse pounding but comfortable at the same time.

Our lodging was downtown at The Industrialist. The Industrialist is a historic building designed by architect Frederick Osterling and built in 1902. It was a perfect place to call “home” while we were there. In fact, the original studio of Osterling was situated only a short distance away, so we decided to visit it during our time there.

Osterling Studio
Pittsburgh, PA

After we’d found our hotel, we spent the next couple days wandering, adventuring, pausing, photographing and enjoying.

The weather was mild while we were there and that made our wanderings even more enjoyable.

Pittsburgh, PA

For this trip, I decided to bring one of my favorite lenses for photography, a 50mm lens.

To photograph Pittsburgh was incredible. I can see why photographers would be drawn to this city. It has everything. The architecture was eye-catching and there were people everywhere. But, not too many people. There was just the right amount of people.

Pittsburgh has a dizzying array of neighborhoods, each one with their own personality. We walked to and through as many as we could to get a sense of what was around us. None of them disappointed at all.

Pittsburgh, PA

What drew me in was how busy some streets could be, and then how quiet a street could be less than a block away. Also, vibrant color was everywhere.

We went to restaurants and stopped on streets and everywhere we went was a visual overload of beauty.

After spending the morning and afternoon exploring, we decided to grab a drink at a place called Tocayo, and I enjoyed one of the best margaritas I’d ever consumed (it was the blood orange one).

Pittsburgh, PA

In addition, we visited an amazing Italian deli and explored along the many side streets and parks that the City of Steel has to offer.

As our trip to Pittsburgh wound down to a close, it was tough to image leaving a city with so much left to explore. I suppose, though, that the longing to stay is the sign of a successful trip anywhere.

And, the Primanti Brothers sandwich alone was worth the trip.

Primanti Brothers
PIttsburgh, PA

1 thought on “Voyaging: A Photo Excursion in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania”

  • I changed planes in Pittsburgh once if I remember correctly – it is a shame that when traveling for business there usually was not time to explore. Great set of images, that sandwich looks great!

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