Me, Dave and Pops went to Pittsburgh. The main purpose of the trip was because I wanted to see PNC Park. I thought it would be a good, long weekend trip for me and Pam to do. Besides a game, there seemed to be lots of cool restaurants and shops in the city that I thought she might enjoy. She kept declining, so I asked Dave and Pops. It’s funny, from the time I made arrangements with them until now, there have been a number of women who have told me and Pam how much they like Pittsburgh. I don’t think Pam’s regrets not taking me up on the offer, but I think she would’ve enjoyed it.

On the Friday drive out we stopped at the Flight 93 Memorial in Shanksville, PA. Yes, we had gone to the National September 11 Memorial & Museum in New York earlier this year. This one wasn’t nearly as impressive. Not that I was expecting it to be – clearly New York is going to be able to (and, frankly, need to) do bigger and better. Though the museum here did a good job recreating the day, the memorial lay out was awkward. The path was unnecessarily windy and things were not identified. Because of that I am unsure whether they are even done working on it. It’s worth a side stop on a trip like this, but not worth going out of your way for.

Pittsburgh itself was great. Our hotel was right next to PNC Park. Everything was within walking distance. Friday night we had a great steak dinner at Eddie Merlot’s. On the way back we could see PNC all lit up during the game.IMG_20160415_205648304

We hung out at a cool bar the rest of that night. Saturday we walked all over the city including Mount Washington. We got lunch at Primanti Bros. Then we hung out at a bar to watch the Penguins playoff game. Our Pirates game was right across the street that night.


PNC Park really deserves the hype. But even better than the ballpark itself is the placement. The street it borders is closed to cars during games so everyone is walking around. There are tons of restaurants and bars so you can easily go out before or after the game. (Or, like we did, both.) All of this gives the game experience a lively atmosphere regardless of what actually happens in the ballpark.


One World Trade Center

My favorite skyscraper has always been the Chrysler Building. The art deco design is really cool. And I appreciate the Empire State Building for how much taller it is, especially considering the era it was constructed. Yes, the old World Trade Centers were tall, but honestly they were kind of bland looking. Basically 2 rectangles with no character. However the new One World Trade Center is striking.

IMG_20160303_115630486Besides just having a sleek, contemporary architecture outside, it is really impressive inside as well. Being brand new allowed the designers to really tech it out.

Start with the elevator. You are surrounded by digital screens. Not only do you know the floor you’re passing, but the elevator ride acts like a time machine. You start out with New York’s first settlement in the 1600’s. What you see on the screens is basically trees. As you ascend, the dial on the years pass. You witness the development of the city all around you with landmarks properly located geographically. It was kind of a shame that the elevators are so quick and smooth because I would’ve liked to concentrate on the displays longer.

Upon exiting the elevator you are put in a long room to watch a couple minute video shown against a wall. It was good, but the unexpected part was that at the end of the video the wall lifts up to reveal a panel of windows giving you your first look from 100 floors up.

From there you go up to the main observation floor. They offered iPads with a system that seamlessly moved with you. So whatever you were looking at, the iPad was as well. You could zoom in or click for more information.

The entire observation floor wrapped 360 degrees. And yes, everything was tiny from up there. The Statue of Liberty is close, but from that height I could easily crush it.


National September 11 Memorial & Museum

The 9/11 Memorial is a peaceful tribute to those that died there. It very much reminds me of the VietnamUnited States, New York, Manhattan, 9/11 Memorial designed by Israeli architect Michael Arad involving a forest of trees around two bodies of water with two large Square holes in their center at the exact spot where the formers towers stood Veterans Memorial Wall in Washington DC…something appropriately cold about the materials used and the simple listing of names.

After that we entered the 9/11 Museum. It may be the best museum I have ever been to. It is amazingly designed and laid out. The majority of the museum is underground. They are able to take you right up to the foundations of the World Trade Centers without making you feel as if you are disturbing what is now hallowed ground.

The content of the museum was just as impressive. There are 3 main sections. The foundation hall has various exhibits and the memorial hall has portrait photographs of all of the victims. But the best part was the historical exhibition. In here you walk through 3 sections of time.

bp3There is the World Trade Centers prior to 9/11: the concept, the construction, the use of the buildings, and what they represented including, for instance, as a backdrop in movies.

Then there is reliving the day. I do this every September 11th by watching History Channel. For some reason I like to get myself upset about what happened. But I also like being amazed in watching the brave firefighters go into the buildings. I also take pride in how the people of NYC came together that day. This part of the museum definitely stirred the same emotions that I get by watching the documentaries each year.

(My own recollections of that day…well, it was confusing. I was working at Mercadien listening to everything unfold on the radio. It took awhile for us to understand that the first crash wasn’t an accident. Even after understating, I don’t think I got upset that day. I was too focused on work…Hillier’s tax return was on extension and it was due September 15 whether we were under attack or not. I even worked late that night. To be clear, there wasn’t a person who told me to stay buried in my work or to stay late. It was just the understood culture of the time and place.)

The final section takes you through the aftermath. Not only are the recovery and rebuilding presented, but also the larger effects on the country and the world. I liked that this section didn’t sugar coat anything. The words “Islamic terrorist” were used. On the other side, they presented August Daily Brief from the CIA to President Bush warning “Bin Ladin Determined To Strike in US”.

(My memories of post-9/11 was that we all wanted a retaliation. The actual consequence of war didn’t matter…we wanted retribution. Beyond that, patriotism was through the roof. Everyone had flags, pins, caps and shirts. It was everywhere. I particularly remember driving major highways like 295 and NJ Turnpike. Every overpass that crossed the road had at least one flag hanging from it.)