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Walking Tour of Oakland, con't.

Forbes Avenue

9. Walk across Schenley Drive towards the Carnegie Institute. Observe the C.L. Magee Memorial (1908) with a bronze bas-relief by August Saint-Gaudens, a renowned American sculptor. The girl's figure called "Charity" or "Abundance" holds a beautiful cornucopia.

*10. Carnegie Institute

As you walk along the Schenley Plaza side of Carnegie Institute (600' length) you begin to have an appreciation for how this massive building has been modified over time. Built by Longfellow, Alden & Harlow in 1895, a major addition in 1907 and an art gallery in 1998 has made the length along Forbes Avenue grow to 800' (covering a total of 8 acres).

As you face the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh entrance, read the motto "Free To The People" which endeared Andrew Carnegie to every community (world-wide) where he donated libraries. If you return to the Library on another occasion, be sure to obtain a Library Card for your younger family members. A library card is free to residents of Allegheny County. A parent must sign the application for a child and it's necessary to bring proof of address (a letter with name and mailing address will do). If you have time, stop in and take use our Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh Scavenger Hunt to get acquainted with this terrific community resource.

This immense Institute building is actually a multi-purpose complex of library, lecture hall, music hall, natural science museum and art museum. The outside building surface has recently been cleaned. A small section of wall (can you locate the corner?) has been permitted to remain "black" on purpose to illustrate the challenge to conservators / preservationists to restore the stone's beauty and cleanliness. Take note of the authors (24) and also names of men prominent in science, art and music that adorn a top border of the building. Can you find all the names that have a "V" substituted for a "U" (example "Copernicvs")?

The building then, as now, forms a hub for many of the cultural pursuits that go on in Oakland: concerts, lectures, exhibits, research. It's hard to imagine, but at one time the "Sunday Blue Laws" prompted conservative Pittsburgh matrons to "picket" against the Sunday afternoon concerts here at the Music Hall.

11. Diplodocus carnegii

As you approach Forbes Avenue, Oakland's newest inhabitant, a fiberglass statue of Diplodocus carnegii, is a sure-fire hit with children. In 1898, Carnegie read about the discovery in Wyoming of dinosaur bones that seemed to captivate the world. He vowed to finance and bring to Pittsburgh the world's greatest collection of dinosaur fossils. We are the fortunate benefactors of his zeal. Because of his financial backing, one of the newly discovered dinosaurs was named in his honor. Next to Diplodocus is a flagpole with a 4-sided base. On the base are medallion tributes to: Pre-historic Drawing, Music, Speech and Construction.

Remember to explain to younger members of your party, the importance to the music world of Stephen C. Foster, Pittsburgh's most well known composer. The statue of Foster by a formidable sculptor – Brenner (who sculpted the Lincoln penny) includes another folk hero, an African-American banjo player. The melodies and songs composed by Foster traveled the world quickly in the 19th century because of sailors on fast moving clipper ships. In spite of tremendous popularity, Foster died penniless in New York City.

12. Cathedral of Learning*

Stand next to the Foster statue and give careful scrutiny to the mighty axis of the Civic Center, the University of Pittsburgh's Cathedral of Learning. In 1921, a new university chancellor, J.G. Bowman, declared he had a vision. The college campus had been slated to be on a hill (or "Acropolis" as in Greece) overlooking Oakland. Instead, Bowman selected a 14-acre tract in the center of Oakland for his new building. In 1925 he announced his choice: an attention-getting 535' tower to be financed by wealthy donors as well as with dimes collected by school children. Bowman was a persuasive leader and even though the Great Depression intervened, the Cathedral of Learning, designed by Chs. Klauder, Philadelphia, was finally finished (1926-37).

Be sure to return to the Pitt Campus for one of the most popular tourist attractions in Oakland: a tour of the 26 Nationality Classrooms (on the first and third floors of the Cathedral). Especially popular are the festive holiday room decorations (December to mid-January). The Commons Room is awe-inspiring with beautiful columns, stone tracery, and fanciful wrought iron details. When you visit the Nationality Rooms try our Nationality Rooms Symbol Search!

Adjacent to the Cathedral of Learning is the Stephen Foster Memorial. It has a small museum in a polygon shaped addition. A library, theater and social hall are also included.

13. Heinz Chapel *

Look to the east (right) of the Cathedral, and discover Heinz Chapel, 1938 also designed by Klauder. The Heinz family chose to honor H.J. Heinz and his mother with a "great space" for worship, meditation, musical concerts and weddings. If possible, come back to visit the Chapel by daylight to see a startling blue light illuminate a truly spectacular interior space. The transept windows (73' high) containing brilliant colors, are the masterpiece of C. Connick Studios (Pittsburgh/Boston). During the school year there is a Sunday evening Vesper service that will remind you of "another century" and "another place" (medieval France).

14. St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Cathedral*

After looking at the Pitt Campus, center of Oakland, cross Forbes Avenue, turn right and walk one block. Look to your left on Dithridge Street and you will see St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Cathedral (since 1923; built in 1904 as the 1st Congregational Church). Study the Grecian Ionic columns, clear examples of the components of a column: base, shaft and capital; also the pediment (triangle shaped section under the roof) has dentil details (small block shapes which look like "teeth"). This church has a Food Festival every spring that is well-worth visiting (try to tour the church interior afterward).

Continue to Craig Street>>>

Neptune near the Hall of Botany


Carnegie Institute was barely finished before they started adding on to it! The top postcard is from 1906, the bottom from 1915 after the towers were removed. (Collection of Susan Donley)


Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh today


The Carnegie Music Hall and Museum with "Dippy" the dinosaur in the foreground


The Stephen Foster Memorial in front of the Cathedral of Learning


The Commons of the Cathedral of Learning and the Ukrainan Nationality Room

Photos: Tom Altany


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