Penn-cil in a Pittsburgh Trip
Week 6, Oct. 17: Seattle at Pittsburgh Steelers, Heinz Field 5:20 p.m. Pacific
SPONSORED – The first time I visited Pittsburgh it was January 1998, and I laughed when a football fan tried to explain to me that this weekend with playoff football felt like Mardi Gras.
Nope. It felt like Pittsburgh. Freezing cold, snow-on-the-ground Pittsburgh.
That was the first time I ever traveled to cover a pro-football game. It was actually the first time I attended a pro-football game in person, which isn’t all that crazy when you consider that I grew up in Oregon, a state that did not include a pro-football franchise. I’ve learned a lot since then first about football and then about Pittsburgh. More specifically, the city is absolutely lovely and that stadium, which is now 10 years old, is absolutely incredible on a nice fall day. Maybe not quite Mardi Gras, but 100-percent pleasant.
For a proper introduction, the most direct route from the airport is also the most convenient. Take I-376 West from the airport and emerging from the Fort Pitt Tunnel to see the downtown skyline fold in front of you as you drive though one of the hills that surrounds the city.
The topography is one of the things that is most striking, and it explains the city’s development. See, this is a mill town, and those mills were located along one of the three rivers: the Ohio, the Monongahela and the Allegheny. The residents tended to live up on the hills, and before cars became common, funiculars were an essential form of transportation. A funicular is a type of cable railway in which the tracks are laid upon a steep slope. Two cars are permanently attached to opposite ends of a cable, thereby serving as counterweights that alternate going up and down to move people and cargo. In Pittsburgh, the funiculars are referred to as inclines and at one time, there were more than 20 operating. Now there are two: The Duquesne Incline, which features the better views and is open every day of the year, and The Monongahela Incline, which was built in 1970.
Pittsburgh is the birthplace of one of America’s great playwrights, August Wilson, who moved to Seattle in 1990 where he lived until his death in 2005. The house he grew up in – 1727 Bedford Avenue – is in Pittsburgh’s Hill District has been landmarked.
Also, if you’re looking for the quintessential Pittsburgh lunch? Make sure you know if you want fries in your sandwich. Not with. In.
It’s a twist that has become a local staple as Primanti Brothers tops all its sandwiches with fries, cole slaw and tomatoes. Onions are available upon request. My favorite: When pigs fly. That’s a turkey sandwich with ham, bacon and a fried egg. Oh yeah, and don’t forget the fries. They’re in the sandwich.
Arrival: Alaska Air has a direct flight from Seattle-Tacoma (SEA) to the Pittsburgh International Airport (PIT) is about 15 miles west of downtown Pittsburgh. Bus service is available through the Port Authority, the Airport Flyer boarding outside of Baggage Claim 6 and providing service to downtown Pittsburgh.
Stadium: Heinz Field opened in 2001 as Pittsburgh went from having one of the more generic multi-use parks in Three Rivers Stadium to having a pair of the most picturesque parks. The Pirates’ PNC Park opened the same year as Heinz Field, both stadiums located at the confluence where the Alleghany River and Monangahela River come together to form the Ohio River.
Last time here: Seattle beat Pittsburgh 28-26 in Week 2 of the 2019 season. That was a marked improvement over the previous two meetings in which the Seahawks had failed to score so much as a single point, which meant that Seattle went 20 years without scoring a point in Pittsburgh. Now, that’s not quite as bad as it sounds. Seattle only played two games in Pittsburgh between 2000 and 2018.
Dining: Primanti Brothers gives you a variety of options. The original location at 46 18th Street has been opened since 1933. There’s also two locations in the stadium itself in the lower East end (Sections 109 and 110) and the lower West end (132 and 133). Fig & Ash (514 E Ohio St.) is located on Pittsburgh’s north side in a renovated building that is absolutely beautiful.