By Karl Rosengarth
One of the main attractions of my weekly buddy ride through the streets of Pittsburgh is the view of the city offered by any number of vantage points in the hills surrounding Pittsburgh. For my money, the quintessential Pittsburgh cityscape is the head-on view of The Point—the pizza slice of land that’s defined by the confluence of the city’s three rivers.
Whenever I’m escorting out-of-towners on bike rides, I make sure that we climb to Mt. Washington, or the parklet at the West End Overlook, to enjoy the vista. When I do so, I drop a litte history and give my visitors a peek into Pittsburgh’s past.
Today Point State Park commemorates the pivotal role that the triangular slice of real estate at the head of the Ohio River played in our country’s history. The strategic importance of The Point was recognized during the French and Indian War and the American Revolution.
A series of forts occupied the area that would later give rise to the city of Pittsburgh. The British established Fort Prince George in 1754, only to have the French oust them and start constructing Fort Duquesne in the same year.
After several unsuccessful attempts to re-capture the site, the British army, under General Forbes, re-gained control in 1758. Forbes would name the site “Pittsburgh” in honor of William Pitt.
The British immediately constructed a temporary fort, Fort Mercer, on the site and then in 1759 built the state-of-the-art (for the time) Fort Pitt.
A more detailed timeline of the history of The Point is available at the Heniz History Museum website.
I find that bicycling Pittsburgh’s streets is a great way to discover historic landmarks. I plan to make Pedaling Pittsburgh’s Past a regular theme for my "Brain Fart" blog contributions. Stay tuned for the next installment.