Thursday, May 04, 2006

The Wonders of Pittsburgh

As I mentioned in an earlier post, we recently went to visit my younger brother at his university in Pittsburgh. We really enjoyed the trip, and we were pleasantly surprised to discover that Pittsburgh is really a pretty interesting place. One of the best parts about it is that it used to be a hub for the steel industry. Now steel itself is not very interesting, but the huge amounts of money produced by the industry did lead to some very good things. In the past, when a town was filled to the gills with the super-rich, charity was a natural outcome. Pittsburgh is the lucky recipient of two universities, many parks and gardens, museums, music venues, libraries, and at least one fantastically detailed dinosaur statue.

After the dinosaur, one of the more striking examples of philanthropic fervor is on the University of Pittsburgh campus. The Cathedral of Learning was built in the early part of the 1900s to look like a cross between a medieval church and a castle. It features some very elaborate stone carving, beautiful stained glass windows, and many perfectly medieval details. One visitor summed it up by saying that Harry Potter could have been filmed inside. In keeping with the castle theme, the interior features two huge fireplaces, a massive common room with vaulted ceilings, and several giant wooden thrones. As far as we are concerned, my little brother is the king of Pitt (hey, we hardly know anyone else there) so we made him sit in the throne and look regal. I think it is especially funny that his shirt says "ego" (his shirt really says Oregon, but happenstance made it funnier) because he does get a little bit of a big head sometimes. Who would have thought that my round baby brother would turn out to be brilliant and handsome :) Anyway, if you ever get to Pittsburgh be sure to visit the Cathedral of Learning. It's both strange and cool enough to be well worth the trip.

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