Saturday, August 27, 2011 – Pittsburgh, PA
We were supposed to overnight in Hartford, CT tonight but due to the approach of Hurricane Irene the powers-that-be concluded, rightly I think, that they would like to have their airplane far away from 75 mile per hour ground gusts. Consequently we repositioned our plane empty to Pittsburgh and had the good fortune to find that our usual hotel in PIT was booked up. That was good news because our company was forced to put us up at the Wyndam Grand, probably the best hotel in Pittsburgh, and right downtown on the point. We arrived about four in the afternoon after some small kerfuffle with the limo service.
I changed clothes and looked up some tourist information on the internet. I was disappointed to find that most of the museums, etc. I was interested in were already closed for the day or closing within minutes. So I ventured out around downtown to see what I could see. My first stop was the point park, otherwise known as the confluence. This is the point where the Allegheny and Monongahela rivers meet to form the Ohio. It is a beautiful park and all the more so for the human activity around me. Heinz Field, the home of the Pittsburgh Steelers stood directly across the Allegheny river from me and it was game night. A stream of people, literally thousands, was filing slowly and cheerfully out of downtown, through the park, and across the bridge to the stadium. It was a walk of perhaps two miles but everyone seemed in a good mood. There was no pushing or rowdiness and everyone seemed to be taking their time.
Since I was not going to the game I simply sat down along the cement parapet which runs along the river and watched small boats jockeying in the current to find anchorage abeam the stadium. I decided that some folks must come by boat to watch the game which struck me as a wonderful idea. I did not see any unoccupied boats, however, so I’m not sure whether one or two stayed to watch the boat while the others went to the game or if the boats were just there to get caught up in the general excitement of the evening. Periodically a large steamboat looking vessel laden with hundreds of people would round the point from the Monongahela and pull right up to the landing below the stadium. It was a gorgeous night with cool temps and a light breeze and, despite the nearby hurricane, not much cloud cover. I didn’t have this beautiful park to myself, but nearly so. Excepting the stream of humanity crossing the northeast corner of the park there were very few people along the promenade itself. I sat and soaked in the sights and the cool evening air and watched the sun go down.
It is an odd thing to be by oneself in a city which is not your own. You feel that you are somehow apart from the rest, yet, in a big city it seems to me that no one owns the city. A stranger in my small town is indeed a stranger and residents, though friendly, recognize his outsider status. But in a city as large as Pittsburgh nobody has a big enough share to claim posession. You can own a town like mine, but you can’t really own Pittsburgh.