a brief Pittsburgh photography post


While life has kind of taken over my blogging time for a short while…here is a post with some recent photos. Hope you like them! Please leave any comments you have..

Each of these was taken with My Samsung Galaxy Note 4

Picture from the Pittsburgh Aviary

I took this at the National Aviary. Jess and I went there for the first time recently for an Easter brunch that was amazingly delicious!

downtown pittsburgh photo.jpg

I took this in front of the Fairmont Hotel.

Jess at Mellon Square Pittsburgh.jpg

Jess posing for me at Mellon Square Park in Pittsburgh

a guest post from Pittsburgh blogger Alaina at Pittsburgh is Beautiful

Today’s post comes from Alaina of Pittsburgh is Beautiful, and is part of a special day of shenanigans from other Pittsburgh bloggers. You can see my post over on Crank Crank Revolution, where I interview local celebrity Burghman!

Hello all Downtown Living readers! I’m thrilled to be posting today for Mike – I’m a huge downtown fan and have a particular fondness for all of the faded old advertisements on the brick buildings.

Working downtown gives me absolutely no excuse to not explore as much as I can. Upon the hearty and repeated praise lavished upon it by a colleague, I sought out the Hotel Monaco to see for myself what inspired such awe from a self-proclaimed hotel aficionado. I was thinking a beautiful, stately, old-timey glamorous hotel in the style of the William Penn, its neighbor across Sixth Avenue. Wrong! Wrong wrong wrong.

First of all, my colleague Pete was so excited that this was a Kimpton hotel. They try to clear this up on their Google Maps tag, calling it “Hotel Monaco Pittsburgh, a Kimpton Hotel”. I had never heard of them before and apparently they are this super luxe chain of hotels that are so awesome that you feel bad calling them a chain. Devotees go to cities because of the Kimpton, and then sightsee as an afterthought.

Pete got to stay at the Hotel Monaco a few weeks back and fangirled out about the cool rooms and the incredible service and their friendly pet policy. So I was looking forward to seeing this hotel in real life.

By the way, this is not some shill for Hotel Monaco if you’re starting to get all side-eye and suspicious.  I’m definitely not getting any hotel perks or comps or glorious upgrades. Nor do I work there. Or even that close by. No one there has any idea who I am. That’s okay. I would make a stalwartly honest journalist.

But anyway, I’m going to fangirl out with Pete here and just say that if you haven’t been to the Hotel Monaco yet, you have to check it out. Not even like, stay over and get a room – just pass by on the street! It’s incredible. But don’t take my word about it – let me paint you a picture with … my pictures.

The first thing that you notice going inside is this glorious, glorious floral chandelier. It will stop you in your tracks and interrupt the flow of guests coming inside. You will gape. Get ready to gape.

Here is the chandelier in its full flowery goodness

Pittsburgh Hotel Monaco 1

View of the chandelier from the second floor landing


At this point I was grinning like a loon because it was so different than the gilded lobby that I was expecting. The doorman, instead of politely but firmly escorting me out instead invited me to look around as much as I wanted and even showed me the ballrooms upstairs. Thank you, kind sir!

There’s a lounge upstairs so let’s take a look:

Insanely awesome carpeting on the stairs.


And then all of a sudden… art! Birdcages at the top arranged in an alcove. Surprising and delightful!


Don’t get distracted by the birdcages and miss the shiny dazzly floor.


So the lounge is gorgeous, but it all looks so insanely curated – and not in a “you can’t sit anywhere or feel comfortable because ART”, but in a way you wish your house could be but of course is not.

Let’s check out some of the lounge details:

You may first notice this cool lighting fixture, and then if you look closer you’ll say “ahh!” because it’s got claws and is even cooler than you realized.


Let’s take a side look at those talons.




Glorious yellow sofa.




Gorgeous detailed fabric on a chair.


Architectural detail on the wall.


Beautiful mirror.


Close-up of the side of the mirror. Wow!


Of course they have a stunning fireplace with a bird foot light and a really cool painty portrait.


Not pictured: a very comfortable looking tufted blue velvet couch.

Owl says “I’m part of the décor”.


By the way, it only just hit me that this lounge has a bird theme.

More supporting evidence for the bird theme, and by the way I need this in my home.


Let’s move on from the lounge.

Those railings though!


Waiting for the elevator? Wait in style.


Ahh, the ballroom area. The doorman told me that there is a Wine Hour every day and that sounds like a heck of a perk.


Just look at that hallway!


The lighting in this place is just astounding.


Seriously, check out the variety!




The fun part is running into random art in the halls, like this lovely lady.

As mysterious as the Mona Lisa!


I think she’s checking out this guy from the lounge.


So pretty!


Even when there is no art IT IS STILL ART.


They don’t even have to be splashy with their wallpaper and it’s still divine.


Another view of that chandelier from the second floor.


Quick peek at the restaurant which I have not been to but it looks like a movie set.


This good boy is stationed outside to bid you adieu as you leave.


Let me wrap up this overly enthused post by mentioning how pleased I am that something like this place exists in Pittsburgh, and I hope that it is an inspiration for similar things to come!

Here is a list of the other bloggers involved in the exchange:

The AP Collection Beezus Kiddo Pittsburgh Happy Hour Orange Chair Blog In Pursuit of Simple Lucy Quin The Wheezy Runner Pittsburgh is Beautiful Last Minute Panic The Almond Eater A Body of One’s Own Lunges, Long Runs and Lattes Downtown Living Emily Levenson Parmesan Princess Oh Honestly, Erin Sole for the Soul Crank Crank Revolution The Pittsburgh Mommy Blog Yum Yum PGH Ya Jagoff Gardening in High Heels Sean’s Ramblings Pittsburgh Taste Buds The Foodtasters My Blog n’at The Fashionable Eye jelly jars Don’t Forget to Eat Small Town Dad Josh’s World The Steel Trap In Pursuit of Happiness 101 Achievements A Librarian’s Lists and Letters Pennies, Pints, Pittsburgh 30-Something therapy Red Pen Mama Nicky D. Cooks everybody loves you…

this month in downtown Pittsburgh – smart talk about stuff that matters

Later this month, downtown Pittsburgh will experience a new addition to its list of world class cultural offerings. The Pittsburgh Humanities Festival – billed as “smart talk about stuff that matters” – will debut and feature an incredibly impressive lineup.

The brainchild of David Shumway – a professor of English at Pittsburgh’s Carnegie Mellon university (CMU) – and the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust, the festival is designed to offer opportunities for anyone interested in exploring the arts and their affect on culture. Modeled after Chicago’s festival, which started in 1989, Mr. Shumway and the Trust hope it becomes a staple of downtown life.
Some of the more prominent conversations that are scheduled include:

Azar Nafisi: the acclaimed author of Reading Lolita in Tehran (a New York Times #1 best seller and a book listed by Bustle as one House of Cards’ Claire Underwood would keep on her bookshelf) will be speaking at the Byham Theater in downtown

Azar Nafisi photo courtesy of the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust

Azar Nafisi photo courtesy of the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust

John Sayles and Maggie Renzie: Mr. Sayles is often called the Godfather in Independent Film and will be speaking with his producing partner, Maggie Renzie. They will look to discuss the current state of independent film with Mr. Shumway at the Trust Arts Education Center at 805-807 Liberty Avenue downtown.

Anthoney DeCurtis: a contributing editor to Rolling Stone for more than 30 years, he is currently working on a Lou Reed biography. His conversation will also be at the Trust Arts Education Center.

George Takei: Mashable.com listed Mr. Takei as the #1 most influential person on Facebook. The website for the festival lists him as social media mega-power due to his work over the last fifty years with credits that include Star Trek, Lost Girl and Twilight Zone just to name a few.

George Takei photo courtsesy of Pittsburgh Cultural Trust

George Takei photo courtesy of Pittsburgh Cultural Trust

When asked why he chose downtown over holding the festival at CMU, Mr. Shumway said downtown “has become the culture and arts heart of the city.” The many different venues were also “already familiar to the public and offered different opportunities for engaging conversations.” When asked about his hope for the future of the festival, Mr. Shumway said he hopes the festival could start bringing speakers that would normally “pass the city by on a regular book tour.”

The festival will be held on March 26-29 throughout the Cultural District in downtown Pittsburgh. Attendees will have 25 events to choose from at venues ranging from the Andy Warhol Museum to the Trust Arts Education Center on Liberty Avenue in downtown. Here is the site to purchase tickets, see an electronic festival brochure and access information on a special hotel rate.


Pittsburgh hasn’t won an award for this recently…but should


The city has produced as many world renowned jazz musicians as any other city in the country.

Some of the world famous musicians that started the scene were:

Bill Eckstine – one of the country’s first true singing stars was from Pittsburgh
Billy Strayhorn – was an important member of Duke Ellington’s band

and currently carrying the torch are…

Roger Humphries – he grew up as one of ten children in a Pittsburgh family. He started playing drums at the age of four! He has played with the likes of Ray Charles. If this isn’t Pittsburgh awesomeness and greatness, I don’t know what is.

Tony Campbell – the saxophonist still has the same instrument he bought when he was 16, has been learning from Roger Humphries for the last 22 years and has played with Branford Marsalis. He has his own jam night in the West End of the city.

Dwayne Dolphin – bassist extraordinaire born and raised in the Hill District. He left Pittsburgh at 18 and was chosen to play with Wynton Marsalis.

along with many…many…more

To celebrate Pittsburgh jazz innovation both past and present, James Street Gastropub and Speakeasy in the North Side (a short walk or T Ride from downtown) has started hosting a Thursday night Roger Humphries Jam Session. So much talent shows up at these sessions that the musicians have started affectionately calling it “the church.”

Here is the website for James Street

Here is the website for Steeltown jazz Storytellers – You can see information for current and future events here

My wife and I attended one of the recent sessions at James Street (I LOVE jazz!!) and Steeltown Jazz gave me the opportunity to interview Mr. Humphries, Mr. Campbell and Mr. Dolphin.

steeltown jazz event information

roger humphries pittsburgh

sitting down with roger humphries

The only audio that came out well was Dwayne Dolphin. It’s great audio because you can hear him talk about Pittsburgh and the love he has for his music and colleagues:

The next big event at James street Gastropub is this Saturday! On the 21st, Pittsburgh Jazz Storytellers hosts:

Roger Humphries, Tony Campbell, Howie Alexander, Tim Stevens,
Joe Badaczewski, Ron Horton, Lou Stellute, Bobby Jones Jr. and Eva Lintz
The event also showcases the music of Billy Eckstine with musicians sharing their stories about
jazz in Pittsburgh. The event also includes an hour talk by the “Voice of Jazz in Pittsburgh” – Mr. Bob Studebaker!

What’s important about this is the carrying of the music tradition in Pittsburgh. The events – and everyone involved – work to keep music in the city through arts support and education. I was also introduced to local drummer – and one time student of Roger Humphries – Thomas Wendt. He is working on an event later this month – hosted by voice of the Steelers ( and HUGE jazz fan) Bill Hillgrove! – with Lighthouse Arts, Inc. According to their website, the group:

“Lighthouse Arts, Inc. was established to improve the quality of jazz education by making accessible the opportunities for students and the community at large to learn and experience the many dimensions of jazz music and the creative artists who play it. We shall incorporate partnerships with the community, schools and arts organizations that will recapture, teach and preserve the music’s history and culture, in an accessible environment that promotes awareness and appreciation.”

You can buy tickets for a fund raiser they are holding on March 28th here. This is the official flyer information too:

joe Negri fund raising event hosted by Bill Hillgrove!