Symbolically Speaking

Pittsburgh is a city known for its three rivers, its many bridges and its eclectic architecture. But it lacks an iconic monument that's recognizable to the rest of the world, like Paris' Eiffel Tower or San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge. Isn't it time this city had its own symbol? To see what fellow readers think Pittsburgh's symbol should be - from structures that already stand (the Cathedral of Learning) to concepts for a new structure (a huge, interactive Steelers symbol), see below:

Without a doubt, the symbol of Pittsburgh should be the Duquesne Heights Incline. I’m hoping others will agree.

Marilyn Burney
Hampton, Va.

When I flew into Pittsburgh for a job interview, I was unimpressed with the drive down the Parkway West – billboard clutter, commercial hodgepodge: same old, same old, the outskirts of anywhere.

But shooting through the Fort Pitt tunnel, I was astounded by the magical cityscape. That spectacular view radically reconfigured my impressions of the area!

Since Golden Triangle embraces both the downtown and the nexus of rivers that shape it, I would nominate this concept as Pittsburgh’s icon. At the moment, the phrase is simply a term that a newcomer eventually learns to associate with places near Point State Park. To make the symbol live, it would need to be visible as well as conceptual (and truly golden, not Steeler crayon-gold).

What about sculptures in Point State Park, in Mellon Park? What about a cascading series of golden triangles in an airport mobile accompanied by the epic view (night) photograph of Pittsburgh in equally epic proportions? What about a triangle for the downtown subway stops and one for the inbound North Shore subway platform when service is operative? What about triangles imbedded in newly poured sidewalks? Given the region’s frequent cloud cover, there could even be triangles in the sky for special events downtown.

Let the imagination dance!

Catherine Hornstein


The Point, the inclines and the rivers are all great symbols, but for me the main symbol of Pittsburgh is a bridge. I’m not exactly sure which one or how to pick one, but Pittsburgh is the City of Bridges and should start marketing itself as such.

This is terrific branding, as bridges are a universal symbol – they are also a metaphor for bringing people and ideas together – a connection, if you will. That’s what Pittsburgh does: It brings people and ideas together; it makes connections and reaches out; and these bridges also symbolize a connection to the rest of the country and to the world.

People come from all over the globe to study our many bridges. For as long as I can remember, Pittsburgh has been branded as a city of rivers – three rivers this and three rivers that. Don’t get me wrong. Rivers are wonderful, but I think we’ve been missing the point (no pun intended).

The true gem that sets us apart and makes us different are our bridges – and what a beautiful symbol that is. It’s a symbol of "connection" that people everywhere understand.

Darin Vilano

To me this is a no-brainer! We have lived here for 36 years, and every overnight visitor we have gets to go downtown so we can drive through the Fort Pitt Tunnel and cross the bridge. As we do, the "oohs and ahhs" never fail. The fountain and the entire point are always breathtaking. That, to me, is the symbol of Pittsburgh.

Donna Kaufman

I’d like to suggest the Smithfield Bridge as the symbol. Pittsburgh is a city of bridges, and the lenticular trusses of that bridge are unique and beautiful.

Linda Ben-Zvi

I would nominate the Fort Pitt Bridge as the Symbol of Pittsburgh! I say this because I travel from Carnegie through the Fort Pitt Bridge. Whenever you go through the Fort Pitt Bridge, the whole city opens up into a picturesque display of awe! You see the beautiful fountain, the stadiums, Carnegie Science Center and the beautiful landscaping at Gateway Center!

The Fort Pitt Bridge is the "gateway" to the City of Pittsburgh! I work as a movie extra in Pittsburgh, and I heard some of the famous celebrities say that when they came through the Fort Pitt Tunnel, they were quite impressed to see our great City ("The Burgh") emerge! For this reason, I give the Fort Pitt Bridge my nomination as the most fitting icon!

Pam Palmer
"Greater Ms. Pittsburgh"

Pittsburgh is realistically no longer the Steel City and yet it is represented by the Steelers symbol, at least superficially. I would like to suggest that the Steelers keep their symbol and the city develop its own symbol. It could be a similar circle, but the interior would be split into three sections (representative of the three rivers).

One section would reflect the educational strength of the area. The second would represent the health care strength, and the third would represent the diversity of the region.

A number of years ago, I sent a suggestion to the mayor’s office that evidently did not warrant serious consideration. The suggestion was to determine all of the different ethnic people that are represented within the greater Pittsburgh area. Then put up a flag representing each nationality on the Fort Pitt Bridge. This is what people would see coming in from the airport. Not overwhelming, just a bit of subdued pride.

Russell Rockenstein

The University of Pittsburgh’s Cathedral of Learning is the correct choice. It represents so many things: education, nationalities, and the past and future of Pittsburgh!

Connie M.

I am sure there are many symbols of Pittsburgh, past and present.

Certainly the Cathedral of Learning, the view from Mount Washington and the bridges rate highly, but I think the view of Pittsburgh that one sees as one exits the Fort Pitt Tunnel into the city, especially at night, is the outstanding symbol of the ‘Burgh.

Every visitor we have had who comes in from the airport is amazed, awestruck and thoroughly impressed with this image of the city.

Dr. Bernard Mallinger

I live in Cumberland, Md., and have for the past 30 to 35 years driven to and from Pittsburgh about 20 times each year to enjoy Pirates baseball and most of the wonderful restaurants your great city has to offer. I consider Pittsburgh my second home.

From the Yards of Beer at Mario’s on the South Side to Pamela’s in Shadyside to Primanti’s in the Strip District to Tessaro’s unsurpassed hardwood grill in Bloomfield, and to the excellent shopping areas west to the airport, I am deeply in love with Pittsburgh.

In all that time and travel, nothing can compare to the view one is greeted with when exiting the Fort Pitt Tunnel above West Carson Street. I have visited all the big cities in this country, and none of them has such a breathtaking entrance, especially at night. There is no better symbol to represent this great city!

Kevin Ogle

Fountain at the Point (sent as photo image).


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