Where History Stays Young

Vg23 7wonders 16 17

There’s a sweet spot, I think, for amusement parks: A blend of nostalgia and freshness. The best theme parks, from small-town midways to Disney World, hang on to their historic rides and attractions; the busiest, however, know that you always need something new to draw kids and families, giving younger generations new memories.

Kennywood hits that sweet spot perfectly.

Yes, we yinzers like to gripe whenever anything changes at the West Mifflin landmark. (I’ll admit I’m none too happy about the disappearance of the old shooting gallery.) But so much of the park is precisely as it was when I was a kid — the Thunderbolt, the Jack Rabbit, the Turtle, the Potato Patch. All in the same spot, all unchanged for decades. And meanwhile, the park is innovating and introducing new attractions for visitors who aren’t old enough to get wistful about the good old days.

In reading Kristina Martin’s piece on the “7 Wonders of Pittsburgh,” it occurred to me that a lot of Pittsburgh’s storied institutions hit that same bullseye. At Phipps Conservatory & Botanical Gardens, century-old architecture hangs out with cutting-edge exhibits. In Frick Park, an eternal, natural wonderland rests behind a state-of-the-art green building. At the Warhol, the 20th century master is paired with modern artists getting their 15 minutes and more.

For visitors, that makes Pittsburgh an ideal destination. Here, you don’t have to plan separate stops to get a sense of our past and present; you can get to know Pittsburgh, yesterday and today, all in the same place.Collier Sean

And for locals, that means our favorite places are always fresh. No year should pass without a visit to Kennywood, Phipps, the Warhol and a dozen other landmarks. You don’t need to be a visitor to enjoy our treasures; they’re always changing, yet always proud of their past.

Sean Collier can be reached at scollier@pittsburghmagazine.com

Categories: Visitors Guide Editor