The Most Interesting Places To Go in Pittsburgh: Let’s celebrate our outstanding restrooms.



OK. Let’s say you’re somewhere you’ve never been before, and nature calls, and you discreetly ask where the restroom is, and you open the door to find really unusual or old or classy facilities. Who doesn’t love to be surprised by vintage plumbing and fixtures? Or maybe you find a modern and unexpected twist on traditional amenities. (The one-way mirror over the urinals in the new Jerome Bettis Grille 36 on the North Shore allows men to peer into the barroom as they pee.)

Whenever talk turns to great restrooms around here, I always think of the stately facilities in the old “castle” in Wilmerding, the building that George Westinghouse built as the headquarters of Westinghouse Air Brake and where he kept his personal office for many years. The George Westinghouse Museum used to be there, too; (it’s since become part of the Heinz History Center in the Strip). I first went to the men’s room there when we were shooting our program called “Pittsburgh A to Z” because we said “W” was for Westinghouse in Wilmerding. And like some sort of crackpot, I took several photos of the old restroom.

It’s on the first floor. There’s a line of beautiful old pedestal sinks. The marble stalls still have oak doors and antique hardware. Big old-style porcelain vase-like urinals rise up from the floor. It’s like a time machine. Did George Westinghouse himself pause here? Probably.

There obviously are lots of such memorable men’s and ladies’ rooms around this area. And I think we ought to point out a few at various times right here on this back page. Maybe you know one or two. Maybe you have a favorite. Either way, please send me an e-mail at reallycoolrestrooms@wqed.org because I’m starting a list. And we’ll continue celebrating some of these places sporadically.

Actually, although we didn’t shoot any video of the Westinghouse men’s room, over the years we’ve included several bathroom stories in our TV documentaries. In 2007’s “Underground Pittsburgh,” we highlighted a Pittsburgh potty (one of those out-in-the-open toilets you often find in old basements around here) on the South Side. And in our 1992 program titled “Downtown Pittsburgh,” we went up in the Frick Building to see Henry Clay Frick’s snazzy private restroom (with shower!) In our 2004 PBS production called “A Program About Unusual Buildings,” we included views of the bathrooms in the Shoe House in York, Pa., as well as those in each of the tepees at the Wigwam Village Motel in Cave City, Ky. In “North Side Story” back in 1997, when people still used such things, we showed the only pay phone at Max’s Allegheny Tavern. It was in the men’s room, and everybody used it.

Such odd but necessary places are worth recognizing and noting. Over the coming months, we’ll try to share some of this information. We’ll all learn new places to go in western Pennsylvania, home of the original Fort Necessity, inspiration for countless bathroom jokes since 1754. 

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module

Edit ModuleShow Tags

Hot Reads

Best of the 'Burgh 2017

Best of the 'Burgh 2017

Host an event in Pittsburgh’s urban sustainable homestead. Join a club for mushroom hunters. Tour a coal mine. Listen to some banjo music. We list our new favorite experiences, food, drink, personalities, stores, items and activities in the ’Burgh.
Daytripping: The ‘Eighth Wonder of the World’

Daytripping: The ‘Eighth Wonder of the World’

Fourteen years ago this month, the mighty Kinzua Viaduct met its match.
Restaurant Review: The Café Carnegie

Restaurant Review: The Café Carnegie

The restaurant, run by Dinette’s Sonja J. Finn, boosts the dining experience at the Carnegie museums in Oakland.
Thrive: Smooth Moves While Getting Lost in the Music

Thrive: Smooth Moves While Getting Lost in the Music

FASTER Pittsburghʼs Hip Hop Cardio promises to get your workout into a groove.
Edit ModuleShow Tags

The 412

Marc-André Fleury Pens Loving Farewell Letter to Pittsburgh

Marc-André Fleury Pens Loving Farewell Letter to Pittsburgh

In a letter for The Players' Tribune, Fleury recounts his 14-year career as a Pittsburgh Penguin and the bittersweet weeks leading up to his departure to Las Vegas.
Pittsburgh-Area Fireworks 2017: When & Where to Watch Them

Pittsburgh-Area Fireworks 2017: When & Where to Watch Them

You can get your fill of fireworks throughout the long holiday weekend, if you know where and when to look.
See The Tiny House with Room to Grow

See The Tiny House with Room to Grow

The housing company Module, a Pittsburgh start-up, creates an alternative housing model that grows in size as you grow in income.
Watch: Pittsburgh Penguins Video Tribute to Marc-André Fleury

Watch: Pittsburgh Penguins Video Tribute to Marc-André Fleury

With a tear in our eye, we bid the “Flower” Au Revoir.
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Hot Reads

Best of the 'Burgh 2017

Best of the 'Burgh 2017

Host an event in Pittsburgh’s urban sustainable homestead. Join a club for mushroom hunters. Tour a coal mine. Listen to some banjo music. We list our new favorite experiences, food, drink, personalities, stores, items and activities in the ’Burgh.
Daytripping: The ‘Eighth Wonder of the World’

Daytripping: The ‘Eighth Wonder of the World’

Fourteen years ago this month, the mighty Kinzua Viaduct met its match.
Restaurant Review: The Café Carnegie

Restaurant Review: The Café Carnegie

The restaurant, run by Dinette’s Sonja J. Finn, boosts the dining experience at the Carnegie museums in Oakland.
Thrive: Smooth Moves While Getting Lost in the Music

Thrive: Smooth Moves While Getting Lost in the Music

FASTER Pittsburghʼs Hip Hop Cardio promises to get your workout into a groove.
Curling in Pittsburgh: ‘It's Basically Golf and Chess on Ice’

Curling in Pittsburgh: ‘It's Basically Golf and Chess on Ice’

On the eve of its largest annual event, the Pittsburgh Curling Club has plans to increase Pittsburgh’s appreciation for its intricate sport.
Top Ten Things to Do in Pittsburgh in June

Top Ten Things to Do in Pittsburgh in June

This month's best bets in the ’Burgh.
Edit Module
Edit Module

Edit ModuleShow Tags

On the Blogs


Marc-André Fleury Pens Loving Farewell Letter to Pittsburgh

Marc-André Fleury Pens Loving Farewell Letter to Pittsburgh

In a letter for The Players' Tribune, Fleury recounts his 14-year career as a Pittsburgh Penguin and the bittersweet weeks leading up to his departure to Las Vegas.

Comments


All the foodie news that's fit to blog
Pusadee's Garden Will Close at End of Year (But Not Forever)

Pusadee's Garden Will Close at End of Year (But Not Forever)

Look for some big changes at the Upper Lawrenceville restaurant, which is expected to shutter for at least a year.

Comments


Not just good stuff. Great stuff.
Best Places for Kids on Rainy Days in Pittsburgh

Best Places for Kids on Rainy Days in Pittsburgh

Read on for some under-the-radar ideas on how you and the kids can survive a rainy day this summer.

Comments


High-Wire Acts at Carnegie Science Center

High-Wire Acts at Carnegie Science Center

The North Shore landmark's new ropes course is a draw for adults and youths alike.

Comments


Mike Prisuta's Sports Section

A weekly look at the games people are playing and the people who are playing them.
Pittsburgh Pirates Looking for Relief from Their Bullpen

Pittsburgh Pirates Looking for Relief from Their Bullpen

The just-completed, pivotal 10-game stretch began and ended the same way for the Pittsburgh Pirates –– with no one having an answer for the faltering bullpen.

Comments


Style. Design. Goods. Hide your credit card.
Make the Cut with Jonathan Moran Woodworks

Make the Cut with Jonathan Moran Woodworks

The Strip District-based woodworker's cutting boards can be custom made with the wood of your choice.

Comments


The movies that are playing in Pittsburgh –– and, more importantly, whether or not they're worth your time.
Buckle Up ... Again, as Cars 3 Hits Theaters

Buckle Up ... Again, as Cars 3 Hits Theaters

Reviews of "Cars 3" and "47 Meters Down," plus local movie news and notes.

Comments


Everything you need to know about getting married in Pittsburgh today.
Brewing Up Romance: A Couple Comes Together over Beer

Brewing Up Romance: A Couple Comes Together over Beer

See how this couple used their love of beer and breweries to create their special moments.

Comments


Weekly inspiration for your home from the editors of Pittsburgh Magazine
Blooming: Pittsburgh Botanic Garden Hosts Town & Country Tour

Blooming: Pittsburgh Botanic Garden Hosts Town & Country Tour

From a forest of Japanese maples to a rocky urban sanctuary, the annual tour covers 14 very different gardens across the East End.

Comments


The hottest topics in higher education
Visit Thiel College for a Summer BBQ

Visit Thiel College for a Summer BBQ

On three days this summer, the college will host visit days for prospective students.

Comments

Edit Module