Directly across the Monongahela River (locals call it "the Mon") from downtown Pittsburgh is 367-foot-high Mount Washington, the best place to go for a "grand" view of Pittsburgh and the three rivers. Known as "Coal Hill" in Pittsburgh's early days, Mount Washington was originally the site of many prosperous coal mines.
A Beautiful View:
Almost everyone who comes to Pittsburgh ends up on Mt. Washington to take in the breathtaking view. USA Weekend's 2003 Annual Travel Report ranked it the second most beautiful place in America:
In a nation with a wealth of stunning cities full of compelling stories, ranking Pittsburgh as the No. 2 beauty spot is perhaps our most surprising choice. But the Steel City's aesthetic appeal is undeniable, as is its very American capacity for renewal.
The stunning nighttime view of Mount Washington features a sweeping panorama of downtown Pittsburgh and the surrounding countryside. The landmark skyscrapers of Pittsburgh's Golden Triangle are nestled at the point where the Allegheny and Monongahela rivers flow together to create the mighty Ohio. At night, lights twinkle from both the city and more than 15 bridges.
Mt. Washington Overlooks:
Grandview Avenue follows the entire length of the hill overlooking Pittsburgh, with many beautiful glimpses of the city between restaurants and homes. For a closer look, there are four overlook decks jutting out over the mountain at various points along Grandview.
Mt. Washington Inclines:
The best way to get to Mt. Washington is to park at the bottom and take an incline to the top. More than a dozen inclines, otherwise known as inclined planes or funiculars, once carried passengers and freight (one was even designed to carry vehicles) between the coal mines and neighborhoods of Mount Washington and the city of Pittsburgh and railyard at Station Square. Two of the oldest of these inclines still survive.
The restored Mon Incline (short for Monongahela), built in 1870, carries residents and tourists between Mount Washington and the popular Station Square shopping complex. About a mile down the road, at the other end of Mount Washington, the beautiful Duquesne Incline still retains its original, 1877 ornate wooden cable cars. The top station is a must-see for visitors, featuring many excellent displays and photographs of Pittsburgh history, as well as a gift shop and outdoor observation deck.
Mt. Washington Restaurants:
Sort of a "restaurant row," Mt. Washington boasts many nice restaurants with stunning views of downtown Pittburgh. Most of the restaurants, including LeMont, Tin Angel and Isabela on Grandview are fairly upscale, with the Georgetown Inn a popular stop for more casual dining.
Living on Mt. Washington:
Offering perhaps the broadest range of housing opportunities of any Pittsburgh neighborhood, Mt. Washington is a mix of single professionals, "empty nesters," and families who have lived in the neighborhoods for generations. The housing covers the range from apartments and duplexes to upscale condos and designer homes.
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