Pittsburgh From Above: Seeing the City from the Roof of PPG Place

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Throughout my many visits to western PA, I’ve had the chance to visit many of the best places to take photos in Pittsburgh. However, I’ve always wondered what it looked like from the top of some of the city’s tallest buildings.

Recently, I was granted permission to take evening photos from the top of PPG Place in downtown Pittsburgh. Unsurprisingly, it was a fantastic experience that I’ll never forget.

Downtown Pittsburgh from the roof of PPG Place.
Downtown Pittsburgh from the roof of PPG Place.

This iconic building was completed in 1984 for PPG Industries, a 100-year-old company that was founded and based in Pittsburgh. PPG, which stands for Pittsburgh Plate Glass, began as a glass company, and they paid homage to their past by covering the building complex in nearly 20,000 pieces of the company’s glass. In total, there is over a million square feet of glass covering the site.

The focal point of the complex is One PPG Place. This skyscraper is 40 stories tall and reaches a height of 635 feet. This makes it the third tallest building in Pittsburgh and the tenth tallest in Pennsylvania.

Skyline of Pittsburgh, PA
PPG Place can be seen glowing orange on the right side of this photo of Pittsburgh’s skyline.

The building is topped by its iconic glass spires which give the building a very interesting appearance. All told, the entire complex features more than 230 of these unique architectural elements.

Seeing them from the roof was quite interesting as they appear as stumps from this vantage point rather than towering spires as they are intended to look from outside the complex.

Spires on PPG Place from the roof
The glass spires of PPG Place look very different from the building’s roof.

As I stated above, I was fortunate enough to be invited to photograph Pittsburgh from the roof of this amazing structure. (Sadly, I cannot get you access to the roof, so please don’t ask.)

From the roof, there is an incredible 360-degree view of the city and the streets more than 600 feet below.

View of the Three Rivers from the roof of PPG Place
The view to the west from the roof of PPG Place.

Looking to the west, the view of the Point and the confluence of Pittsburgh’s three rivers gives a unique look to a scene you most commonly see from Mount Washington and the West End Overlook.

From here you can also watch the Duquesne Incline climbing Mount Washington and the cars emerging from the Fort Pitt Tunnel.

Fort Pitt Bridge in Pittsburgh from Above
Watching cars crossing the Fort Pitt Bridge and the Duquesne Incline climbing Mount Washington was amazing.

Sadly, on the evening I visited, there wasn’t a great sunset, but I can also imagine that the sunsets from this spot would be pretty fantastic.

To the north, there are great views of Pittsburgh’s North Shore. This includes both stadiums (neither of which had games when I was taking photos). You can also see the Andy Warhol Bridge, but the Roberto Clemente and Rachel Carson Bridges are mostly blocked due to the other tall buildings in the downtown area.

Fifth Avenue Place lit up for Pride Month in Pittsburgh, PA
The view to the north is dominated by Fifth Avenue Place, but you can also see PNC Park in the background.

To the north, the most prominent landmark is Fifth Avenue Place. Also known as the Highmark Building, this skyscraper is only a few feet shorter than PPG Place thanks to its tall spire. I was taking photos during Pride Month, and the building was lit up in all the colors of the rainbow, which made for some fantastic photos.

Without a doubt, looking to the east is the most breathtaking of the views from PPG Place.

Downtown Pittsburgh, PA from the roof of PPG Place
A wide shot of Pittsburgh to the east from PPG Place.

From here, nearly the entire city is laid out in front of you and you can see the US Steel Tower, BNY Mellon Center, and even the Cathedral of Learning in the distance.

Skyscrapers in downtown Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
The skyscrapers of downtown Pittsburgh. You can even see the Cathedral of Learning if you look closely.

The buildings of downtown Pittsburgh almost look like stacking blocks from this angle and create probably my favorite shot from the rooftop of PPG Place. I especially love how to Cultural District looks so carefully nestled at the foot of the city’s many skyscrapers.

Pittsburgh's Cultural District amongst the skyscrapers of the downtown core.
Pittsburgh’s Cultural District amongst the skyscrapers of the downtown core.

While most of the Allegheny River is hidden from this vantage point, the Monongahela River looks great as it meaders through the city.

While I’m not one for vertigo, I must admit that I got a bit dizzy looking straight down at square in the middle of PPG Place. During the summer, this is a popular spot to relax and enjoy the water fountains. During Christmastime in Pittsburgh, this is the home of the city’s popular ice skating rink.

PPG Place from Above in Pittsburgh, PA
Looking down at the square in the heart of PPG Place.

Of all the views from the roof, the one to the south is probably the least interesting. While there are nice views of Mount Washington, the Monongahela Incline, Station Square, and Highmark Stadium, there isn’t nearly as much to see from here as there is in the other three directions.

Nevertheless, it’s still great to see south Pittsburgh from above. 

The Smithfield Street Bridge and Station Square from above in Pittsburgh, PA
The Smithfield Street Bridge and Station Square from above.

While I typically only share things to do in Pittsburgh that anyone can experience, the chance to share my photos from the roof of PPG Place was too good to pass up.

I hope you’ve enjoyed my photos taken from this little-seen vantage point in the city. Without a doubt, Pittsburgh is one of the most beautiful places in Pennsylvania.

View of downtown Pittsburgh from the roof of the PPG Building
A close up of some of the buildings in downtown Pittsburgh.

Again, as a reminder, I was granted special permission to shoot photos from the roof of PPG Place. Unfortunately, I cannot get you access, so please don’t ask.

Looking for more things to do in the city? Check out tours of PNC Park, the National Aviary, and the Fort Pitt Museum.

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