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The International Writers Magazine:Pittsburgh USA

Pittsburgh Re-Born
• Habeeb Salloum
"Did you see the new Pittsburgh? It’s awesome! The best way to see it is climbing Mt. Washington by night. You must see it from that angle! The city will be a picture-postcard before you. It’s a sight that you shouldn’t miss.” My colleague seemed entranced when describing the city when seen from Mt. Washington at night.


I took her at her word and this evening a group of us decided to drive up the mountain and enjoy the sight. Driving up the mountain in the semi-darkness through a forest of greenery, I thought of Pittsburgh of the past. In the 1950s, 60s and 70s, I used to come to this part of the U.S. and Pittsburgh was a smog-encompassed steel town, seemingly decaying in the midst of a beautiful hilly green countryside. Now it is a different world.

Pittsburgh has transformed from a decaying urban center of the past to a modern metropolis with a focus on sustainability through green-friendly architecture, educational research, bio-technology, new software engineering and robotics, just a sampling for the future. And it has been successful. Today, Pittsburgh is a city of cleanliness, environmentally progressive and its people have taken on the role of friendliness. It is an urban centre that is roaring into the future with much potential.

This evening we were exploring this once old decaying metropolis in its new shining armour. Soon we were driving up Mt. Washington to enjoy a panoramic view of the city. On the mountain top we made our way along Grandview Avenue. On both sides restaurants, homes – some luxurious, and night-spots crowded the sides of the avenue.

We stopped at one of the observation spots to view the city in all its nighttime glory. The night air was clean and invigorating as we viewed the lights sparkled everywhere from both the city and its skyscrapers and more than 15 of its bridges. Below us the Allegheny and Monongahela Rivers joined together to form the mighty Ohio River. Their waters glowed in the semi-darkness. Once totally polluted from the steel mills and other industries, they are now if not totally cleaned, but partially free of pollution. It was an urban center of lights in all its splendour. Paris move over. The city looked fantastic at night, truly a breath-taking picture - ranked by the USA Weekend’s 2003 Annual Travel Report as the second most beautiful place in the U.S. The vista was so impressive at night that we decided to re-visit Mt. Washington during the day.

Statues The next morning we hired a cab and soon we were driving along Grandview Avenue that took us along the entire length of the mountain - stopping here and there to view the panorama of the city from between homes and restaurants. We also stopped at the four overlook decks that protrude from the mountain at various points along the Avenue to absorb the fabulous view and to take pictures. The city definitely was not as impressive as it was at night but it was still a marvelous sight.

After taking photos we drove around to examine the two extant inclines, the Duquesne and the Monongahela, left-overs of the original 17 that were in existence when the mountain was mined for its coal which was the heart of the steel industry. In fact, Mt. Washington was known in Pittsburgh’s early years as ‘Coal Hill’, the original site of the many successful coal mines. These inclines originally carried people and freight between the coal mines, neighbourhoods in Mt. Washington, Pittsburgh and the rail-yard located at the bottom of the mountain.

One of the main aims of our visit to the mountain was not only to enjoy the view but also to see the inclines. Each one of these inclines has cable cars that take passengers up and down the slope. Over 500,000 passengers annually use these inclines, 80 per cent of whom are visitors, to experience and enjoy the vista of Pittsburgh at night and even during the day.
 Brian Cohen

After exploring the mountain with its fantastic views sights, visitors can dine at fine dining establishments such as the Monterey Bay Fish Grotto, the premier fresh fish restaurant in the region featuring over 20 varieties of fresh fish from around the world. While dining on its delicacies sitting high on Mt. Washington, diners enjoy a spectacular view of downtown Pittsburgh and the confluence of the three rivers. Another excellent option is the Le Mont, considered the area’s most romantic restaurant with elegant dining ‘beyond compare’. It is the only restaurant in Pittsburgh that has received the 5-star Diamond Star Award for Excellence. It features continental cuisine alongside a breath-taking panoramic view of the city.

While ending the evening with drinks at either one of these restaurants or other dining places atop Mt. Washington, one can dream of Pittsburgh as it was – a smog-filled unhealthy and eye-sore city and how in a few decades, it became an icon of environmental rejuvenation. It is a tale of two cities where the good has triumphed over the bad – a story worthy of note.

For More Information Contact:
General Information: e-mail: Tel: 412.281.7711 Website

Monterey Bay Fish Grotto: Address: 1411 Grandview Avenue, Pittsburgh, Pa. 15211. Telephone: 412-481-4414.

Le Mont: Address: 1114 Grandview Avenue, Pittsburgh, Pa. 15211. Telephone: 412-431-3100. Website:

© Habeeb Salloum July 2014
Winner of the 2013 Saskatchewan Tourism Travel Media Award, awarded by Saskatchewan Tourism on April 10, 2014

Among his most important published books are: From the Lands of Figs and Olives:  Over 300 Delicious and Unusual Recipes from the Middle East and North Africa (Interlink Publishing, 1996); Journeys Back to Arab Spain (The Middle East Studies Center, 1994); Arabic Contributions to the English Vocabulary (Librairie du Liban, 1996); Classic Vegetarian Cooking From the Middle East and North Africa (Interlink Publishing, 2000); Arab Cooking On A Saskatchewan Homestead: Recipes And Recollections (CPRC, University of Regina. 2005) – winner of the Cuisine Canada and The University of Guelph's Silver Canadian Culinary Book Awards in 2006, Bison Delights (CPRC, University of Regina, 2010) and The Arabian Nights Cookbook (Tuttle Publishing, 2010).  His most recent books, co-authored with Leila Salloum Elias and Muna Salloum, are Scheherazade’s Feasts: Foods of the Medieval Arab World (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2013); and Sweet Delights from A Thousand and One Nights: The Story of Traditional Arab Sweets (I.B. Tauris, London, UK, 2013).

Daytrip to Saskatoon
Habeeb and Muna Salloum

“Welcome to Saskatoon the ‘Paris of the prairies’”, the guide’s voice thundered through the tour bus. He continued, “Saskatoon is magic!

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