The appealing ten-block district known as the Golden Triangle, at the heart of downtown PITTSBURGH, stands at the confluence of the Monongahela, Allegheny and Ohio rivers; this area was once bitterly fought over as the gateway to the West. The French built Fort Duquesne on the site in 1754, only for it to be destroyed four years later by the British, who replaced it with Fort Pitt. Industry began with the development of iron foundries in the early 1800s and by the time of the Civil War, Pittsburgh was producing half of the iron and one third of the glass in the US. Soon after, the city became the world’s leading producer of steel, thanks to the vigorous expansion programmes of Andrew Carnegie, who by 1870 was the richest man in the world. Present-day Pittsburgh is dotted with his cultural bequests, along with those of other wealthy forefathers, including the Mellon bankers, the Frick coal merchants and the Heinz food producers.
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The city has gradually ditched its Victorian reputation for dirt and pollution since its transformation began in the 1960s and has now established itself as one of America’s most attractive and most liveable cities. The face-lift involved large-scale demolition of abandoned steel mills, which freed up much of the downtown waterfront to make way for sleek skyscrapers and green spaces. Each of Pittsburgh’s close-knit neighbourhoods – the South Side and Mount Washington, across the Monongahela River from the Golden Triangle, the North Side across the Allegheny River and the East End – has a distinct flavour.
The guru of pop art
Born in Pittsburgh in 1928, Andy Warhol (born Andrew Warhola, the youngest son of working-class Slovakian immigrants) moved to New York City at the age of 21, after graduating from Carnegie-Mellon University. After a decade as a successful commercial artist, by the early 1960s he was leading the vanguard of the new Pop Art movement, shooting 16mm films such as Chelsea Girls, and by 1967 had developed the “Exploding Plastic Inevitable” multimedia show, featuring erotic dancers and music by The Velvet Underground, whom he managed. After founding Interview magazine in 1969, Warhol became transfixed by the rich and famous and, up until his death in 1987, was perhaps best known for his celebrity portraits and his appearances at society events. Ironically, he always disowned his gritty hometown, which didn’t fit with NYC cool, and would probably turn in his grave that his main shrine is located back there, as are his mortal remains, in Bethel cemetery, Bethel Park (412 835 8538).