Pittsburgh's Mount Washington: Inclines and Overlooks

Pittsburgh skyline

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Directly across the Monongahela River (locals call it "the Mon") from downtown Pittsburgh is 367-foot-high Mount Washington, the best place to go for a grand view of Pittsburgh and the three rivers. Known as Coal Hill in Pittsburgh's early days, Mount Washington was originally the site of many prosperous coal mines. It's named for a young George Washington, who mapped the land and rivers below from what is now Grandview Avenue for the British before the United States became independent.

A Beautiful View

Almost everyone who visits Pittsburgh ends up on Mount Washington to take in the breathtaking view. USA Weekend's 2003 Annual Travel Report ranked it the second most beautiful place in America:

In a nation with a wealth of stunning cities full of compelling stories, ranking Pittsburgh as the No. 2 beauty spot is perhaps our most surprising choice. But the Steel City's aesthetic appeal is undeniable, as is its very American capacity for renewal.

The stunning nighttime view from Mount Washington features a sweeping panorama of downtown Pittsburgh and the surrounding countryside. The landmark skyscrapers of Pittsburgh's Golden Triangle are nestled at the point where the Allegheny and Monongahela rivers flow together to create the mighty Ohio. At night, lights twinkle from both the city and more than 15 bridges.

Overlooks

Grandview Avenue follows the entire length of the hill overlooking Pittsburgh, with many beautiful glimpses of the city between restaurants and homes. For a closer look, there are four overlook decks jutting out over the mountain at various points along Grandview.

Inclines

The best way to get to Mount Washington is to park at the bottom and take an incline to the top. More than a dozen inclines, otherwise known as inclined planes or funiculars, once carried passengers and freight (one was even designed to carry vehicles) between the coal mines and neighborhoods of Mount Washington and the city of Pittsburgh and railyard at Station Square. Two of the oldest of these inclines still survive.

The restored Mon Incline (short for Monongahela), built in 1870, carries residents and visitors between Mount Washington and the popular Station Square shopping complex. About a mile down the road, at the other end of Mount Washington, the beautiful Duquesne Incline still retains its original, ornate wooden cable cars circa 1877. The top station is a must-see for visitors. It features many excellent displays and photographs of Pittsburgh history, as well as a gift shop and outdoor observation deck.

Food With a View

Sort of a restaurant row, Mount Washington boasts many nice restaurants with stunning views of downtown Pittsburgh. Many of the restaurants, like the award-winning LeMont and Altius, are upscale. For more casual eating, check out Harris Grill.

Living on Mount Washington

Offering perhaps the broadest range of housing opportunities of any Pittsburgh neighborhood, Mount Washington is a mix of single professionals, empty nesters, and families who have lived in the neighborhoods for generations. The housing covers the range from apartments and duplexes to upscale condos and designer homes.