'When you're walking, you realize there's so much in Pittsburgh'

Written by Ethan Magoc on .

Two Point Park University freshmen woke up on Friday before dawn to properly capture Pittsburgh in its morning glory with a camera and smartphones in hand. Now that winter has finally loosened its grip, the day was promising to reveal Pittsburgh wide awake: sunny day, slightly chilly air. Good morning, Pittsburgh!

Victoria Mikula and Jake Owens, both 19, are photojournalism majors who often work on projects together. Mr. Owens has a final project due soon, and professor Chris Rolinson suggested he emulate New York Times photographer Todd Heisler’s “Once Around an Island.

Knowing Pittsburgh and its perimeter neighborhoods have plenty to offer visually, they set off on foot from Point State Park at 6:30 a.m.

From there, they went across the Smithfield Bridge and through the South Side.


“We realized we were starving, so we stopped at Nadine’s Diner and got breakfast,” Ms. Mikula said.


From there, it was across the Hot Metal Bridge to the most brutal hill they encountered that day: Bates Street up to Oakland.


Mr. Owens captured the day for his project with an actual camera, while Ms. Mikula shared the journey live through an Instagram hashtag.


Neither grew up here — she’s from Hershey, he from Red Lion — so the journey became a way to explore some of Pittsburgh's corners they hadn’t gotten to know yet: from Bates to Schenley Park to Flagstaff Hill, Carnegie Mellon’s campus and then Shadyside.


By the time they reached Allegheny Cemetery, they were exhausted.


Still, Ms. Mikula said, “I’ve never been to a cemetery that looks so beautiful. I know that sounds weird, but it’s breathtaking.”


Since Lyft and Uber now operate in Pittsburgh, the classmates opted against riding the bus back and instead called a ride-share service.


“When you drive through, you’re going too fast,” she said. “You don’t really get to stop and observe anything, but when you’re walking, you realize there’s so much in Pittsburgh.”


They plan to finish the walking and photographing with a return to the cemetery this week. From there, they’ll head toward the North Side.


A dog on Friday outside Starbucks on East Carson Street. “He was just hanging out at 7 a.m. and didn’t have a care in the world,” Ms. Mikula said.


A house in Shadyside with plenty of bird houses.


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