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Best of the 'Burgh 2018: Cultural Attractions

From a tiny history lesson to a secret garden to a hidden shrine –– discover what our editors chose for the Best of the 'Burgh in cultural attractions.




photos by chuck beard
 

If you want an accurate depiction of this area in the 1950s, you can do better than photographs and written descriptions. Two thousand train cars chug along 6,500 feet of track during the annual Holiday Train Display at the Western Pennsylvania Model Railroad Museum in Gibsonia. Meticulously researched recreations of landmarks and scenes in a series of cities and towns stretching from Pittsburgh to Cumberland, Md., can be found in the sprawling display, which is only open to the public on select dates from November to January. (5507 Lakeside Drive, Gibsonia; 724/444-6944, wpmrm.org) —SC
 



 

Everything’s coming up roses — thousands of them — at McKeesport’s rose garden and arboretum at Renziehausen Park, designed by noted landscape architect Ezra C. Styles. In fact, it’s the second largest rose garden in the state (Hershey Gardens is first). For 80 years, this flowerful feast for the eyes and nose, made up of around 2,000 roses, floribundas, old roses, hybrid teas, climbers, miniatures and more, has been maintained by the Garden Club of McKeesport along with volunteers from the Pittsburgh Rose Society. Get more bloom for your buck (admission, though, is free) and see the perennial and butterfly gardens. For a rosy married life, the spot is also available for weddings. (1400 Pinoak Drive, Renziehausen Park, McKeesport; 412/675-5020, mckeesport-pa.gov/178/Renziehausen-Park) —MM
 



 

Charming, serene and surprising are words that come to mind when touring Chatham Village. Built in the style of the Garden City movement which originated in England, Chatham Village is a 46-acre verdant wonderland located off of Virginia Avenue on Mt. Washington. Founded in 1931 by Buhl Foundation director Charles F. Lewis, who wanted to develop a community with affordable housing and shared gardens, the sidewalk-community now contains 197 townhouses and 19 apartment-style homes. “It became so popular that it sort of became a little upscale neighborhood, and now we’re run as a housing cooperative,” says Chatham Village Manager Joe Massarelli. The village, a National Historic Landmark, hosts periodic house tours and the occasional garden tour for the public as well as architectural tours for students. (chathamvillagehomesinc.com) —LD
 


Photo by Susan Wilson
 

Pittsburgh itself is rich with diversity of many cultures, but City of Asylum takes diversity to a whole new level. The North Side hub for creative exchange among writers and artists, City of Asylum has hosted writers from Syria, Bangladesh, Iran and many other countries who were exiled from their homes, giving them a safe place to live and continue to write. Co-founder Henry Reese believes these writers create a future for others by testing the limits of society. Among other culturally rich events are those held at Alphabet City. Musicians, authors and films — all are featured heavily on the Alphabet City calendar, providing unique and new entertainment for the public almost every night. Reese believes in unity among differences and cultures. “It’s important to remember that we’re one nation, but we’re not all alike,” he says. (Alphabet City, 40 W. North Ave., North Side; 412/435-1110, alphabetcity.org) —AB
 



 

Most shrines are tranquil places, tucked-away spots for prayer set apart from the modern world. Most don’t overlook a Parkway. But that’s part of the charm of Our Lady of the Parkway, a small shrine in South Oakland only accessible by a trek down some city steps off of Wakefield Street. The shrine, which overlooks Interstate 376, was constructed by a group of devout Oakland residents in 1956. Longtime resident Sophia Koss is one of the volunteers involved now, but she says the shrine doesn’t require much maintenance. “I’ve had people want to come and take care of it, and I tell people, ‘It’s the Blessed Mother’s shrine. She’ll take care of it.’” A Mass is held there every August in honor of the Assumption. —LD
 

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