On the 4th of July Grace and I found ourselves home alone for the third day while the boys were away at Boy Scout Camp and Molly was serving the people of Costa Rica. We considered different possible plans for the day but in the end decided that a day in Pittsburgh was the best plan, since we would end up in the city that evening for fireworks anyway.
Grace had a paper to write for one of her summer college classes so we got a later start which allowed me to get some chores done… chores that had been ignored the last two days while we were playing tourists around town.
At 10:00am we were on the road and headed down to the Strip District of Pittsburgh to do a little shopping. Grace had never visited the Strip District (home of ethnic food stores and international restaurants) before, so we thought it would be a fun way to start the day. It turns out most places were closed because of the holiday. That didn’t deter us from enjoying those stores that were open. It just meant we were in and out of the strip far quicker than we had planned.
Our final stop before leaving the strip was Pittsburgh Popcorn where we each purchased a treat to enjoy later during the evening fireworks show.
From there we headed down to Point State Park where the fireworks would be taking place that evening. We thought we would find our parking spot before the crowds converged on the city and enjoy a day down at the Point.
It was a HOT day to spend outside so we countered the 8 hours outside with some indoor sightseeing at the Fort Pitt Museum:
Fort Pitt Museum is an indoor/outdoor museum that’s in downtown Pittsburgh. It is at the confluence of the Monongahela and Allegheny Rivers, where the Ohio River is formed. Fort Pitt Museum is surrounded by Point State Park named for the geographically and historically significant point that is between the rivers. This piece of land was key to controlling the upper reaches of the Ohio River Valley and western Pennsylvania, before, during, and after the French and Indian War, as well as the American Revolution.
The museum is in a recreated bastion of Fort Pitt, which was originally built in 1758 by the British. The historical focus of the museum is the role that Fort Pitt played during the French and Indian War. The museum also features detailed information on Fort Pitt’s role during the American Revolution, the Whiskey Rebellion and the founding of Pittsburgh.
This was a Pittsburgh historical site that neither Grace nor I had ever visited before. It was a perfect day for a first time visit, not only because the air conditioning felt so good after our 100 degree walk in the heat, but also because of all the added activities being offered at the fort in honor of the 4th of July holiday.
We stepped inside and stepped back in time to the 18th century frontier to discover what life was like for the earliest residents of the region.
Grace learning more about the fort at the meticulous diorama that gave a glimpse of 18th century Pittsburgh in miniature.
Like a trader of old we were able to bring furs to market at the Trader’s Cabin and peer inside a replica Casemate to see munitions being made deep within the walls of Fort Pitt.
Grace and I learned about the artillery that kept watch over the fort during the French & Indian War and were able to see if we had what it took to be part of the crew on the replica cannon.
Then we headed to the Soldiers’ Barracks to discover what life was like for the troops that garrisoned and protected Pittsburgh.
With a wide range of interactive exhibits for visitors of all ages, the first floor gallery was the place to learn about daily life in 18th century Pittsburgh. We were so impressed with all the stations offered that allowed us to really step back in time and experience life at Fort Pitt.
From there we moved upstairs to the second floor where we learned more about this area and Fort Pitt’s role in our country’s history.
In the mid-18th century, the contest for control of the lands west of the Appalachian Mountains was far from decided. Among the relative newcomers to the region were Shawnee, Delaware, and Seneca Indians in search of autonomy in the Ohio Country, as well as military representatives from the two most powerful nations in the world: England and France.
The clash of these two great empires, which began in the backwoods of present day Western Pennsylvania, forever changed the course of world events, had powerful repercussions for Native America, and ultimately inspired thirteen rebellious colonies to declare their independence from Great Britain.
Explore these momentous events and their impact on our region in the permanent second floor exhibit, Fort Pitt: Keystone of the Frontier. The exhibit features two audio-visual presentations covering both the French & Indian War and the American Revolution, intricate dioramas of the earliest forts at the Point, and numerous artifacts, all of which paint a vivid picture of war, trade, adventure, and diplomacy on the 18th century frontier.
After a few hours touring the Fort Pitt Museum we headed back out into the heat and sunshine. First stop: The Blockhouse. Located just outside the museum is the Blockhouse, the only original structure left standing from historic Fort Pitt.
Grace and I enjoyed an afternoon of strolling, sightseeing, and people watching at the point.
The heat eventually led us the water stairs (across the river on the north side) where we enjoyed some Rita’s Italian Ice while we sat with our feet in the water, trying to cool off.
As the sun lowered in the sky the air cooled, due in part to a front moving through the area. The front brought with it its own impressive light show…
A prequel to the fireworks that followed.
I’d be hard pressed to decided which show was more stunning!
It was a delightful day with my first born daughter.
Happy birthday, USA!!