All Things Pittsburgh

PittGirl learns something new about the city she loves.

Illustration by Patrick Neil

My sister-in-law, Liliana, and her husband, Alejandro, recently visited from Mexico City; it was her second trip to the ’Burgh and his first. The purpose of the journey was a chance for the parents of four to get away together, catch up with family and experience the city during a lovely summer.

During Liliana’s first visit to Pittsburgh, the city was harshly gripped in the unforgiving, merciless clutches of Snowmaggedon. Six feet of snow and impassable roads throughout the four days she was here didn’t exactly allow for much exploration. In fact, I’m pretty sure the highlight of her first trip was a particularly terrifying fishtail done on an icy, snow-smothered road. Weeee! Wait ’til I tell my friends about this!

This time around, it was July. The sun was shining; the skies were blue; the city was alive; and she and Alejandro had two whole weeks to explore. Liliana came armed with hours of research on the city—which museums she wanted to visit, which neighborhoods she wanted to see and which sporting events she wanted to attend. Luckily for her, she was staying with me.

PittGirl: Knower of All Things Pittsburgh, which is what my business card would say if I ever bother to have it printed.

On the fourth evening of their visit, we sat in my kitchen chatting over a meal when Liliana mentioned that in addition to all of the Carnegie museums, the Sen. John Heinz History Center, the Science Center, the National Aviary and more, she wanted to stop by the Bible museum in Pittsburgh. One of the websites she visited suggested that it would be an interesting place to visit.

Since Liliana doesn’t speak much English (and since my Spanish is muy malo at best), I assumed something was lost in the translation. “Uh,” I said to my husband to translate back to her, “there is no Bible museum in Pittsburgh. I am PittGirl. Daughter of a minister. I think I would know if there were a Bible museum in the city.”

Priding myself as the Supreme Knower of All Things Pittsburgh (ooh, I like that better. That’s what my business card should say), I said that she must mean the “Vatican Splendors” exhibit, which ended long ago. I assured her there was no bible museum in Pittsburgh—or my name wasn’t PittGirl, Most Royal High Supreme Knower of All Things Pittsburgh (even better!).

It was at this point that Liliana grabbed the laptop she used to conduct all of her Pittsburgh research, hunted around for a few minutes and then turned the laptop to me to show me an article about … I couldn’t believe it: The James L. Kelso Bible Lands Museum at the Pittsburgh Theological Seminary. Filled with artifacts from digs in the Bible Lands—artifacts that PTS has collected since 1908. And here I was, the Ego-Checked Knower of All Things Pittsburgh, just now learning it existed.

That was when I learned that it doesn’t matter how long you’ve lived in Pittsburgh or how often you visit—or if your alias is PittGirl, and you’ve been voraciously researching and reading about the city for decades—because there will always be something about the city that you haven’t yet learned or seen. There’s always going to be a restaurant you haven’t tried, a neighborhood whose best pizza you haven’t sampled, a church whose pierogies you haven’t hoarded, a local band you haven’t heard of or a festival you haven’t attended.

And that makes dynamic Pittsburgh all the more fun to live in, visit and explore. Never boring. Always changing. As for me, my ego is in check, and I’ve got a new title: PittGirl: Learner of All Things Pittsburgh.


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