Places to Visit in Scotland
- The Cultural Legacy of Andrew Carnegie - Pittsburgh USA
Edinburgh-based arts and travel writer Vivien Devlin went beyond the shores of Scotland to see the cultural legacy of Andrew Carnegie in Pittsburgh, USA. Of course, Scottish-born Carnegie's philanthropy extends to many countries around the world (not least back in Scotland) but it was in Pittsburgh that he created much of his business success and his fortune, so it was appropriate that he endowed the city with so many fine buildings and a cultural heritage which have assisted Pittsburgh in its regeneration in recent years.
Artistic, bold, confident, dynamic - you need a list of superlatives to define the city of Pittsburgh today. For over a century it was the world's unrivalled centre of oil, iron, glass and steel production. Having thrown off its grey industrial cloak and nickname Smoky City, a green, clean new environment has sprung up in recent years featuring brash modern architecture, a world-class cultural scene, great shopping and nightlife. Urban regeneration has restored 19th century factories and downtown warehouses to create new hotels, art galleries, theatres, bars and bistros, with a cutting-edge convention centre and sports stadium now dominating the waterfront.
Pittsburgh does not simply follow trends and fashion, it creates its own. A city of world firsts it was here that the Macdonald Big Mac hamburger was invented by Jim Delligatti in 1968, while Klondikes choc-ices (vanilla ice cream dipped in chocolate and wrapped in silver paper) were first produced in 1929 at Isaly's store. And it was in Pittsburgh that the first modern art gallery opened as far back as 1895 - almost before the term "modern art" had even been coined.
As in many cities around the world, Scottish immigrants have had an impact - as can be seen in the Pittsburgh page of "Scottish Placenames Round the World" on this site.
The forward-thinking entrepreneur behind a museum of art was Andrew Carnegie, one of America's most successful industrialists and - it could be argued - the world's biggest philanthropist.
Andrew Carnegie was born in Dunfermline, Fife in 1835, the son of a weaver, whose skills were soon made worthless by the introduction of new textile machinery. At the age of 12 he travelled with his family to the United States, the land of freedom and promise. He began working in the cotton mills before training as a telegrapher with the Pennsylvania Railroad where his work was noted by an official, Thomas Scott. By the time he was 24 Carnegie had become a superintendent and with Scott's help in the form of a loan, advice and influence, he was already making money on the stock exchange. He invested in oil and soon saw the potential for development in the steel industry. Carnegie observed that iron train rails were wearing out too quickly, causing devastating derailments. The railroad was ordering stronger Bessemer steel rails all the way from England, which inspired Carnegie to quit his railroad job to manufacture them in Pittsburgh.
On the Monongahela River in Braddock, Pennsylvania, Andrew Carnegie's first major steel mill opened on August 22, 1875 introduced cheap, high-volume steel to the Pittsburgh area. It was named after the President of the Pennsylvania Railroad to ensure that Carnegie received the railroad's steel rail business.
Meanwhile, fellow industrialist Henry Clay Frick was building an empire by manufacturing coke, an essential coal-based fuel for blast furnaces. In 1881, Carnegie joined forces with Frick to obtain the coke he wanted. Frick obtained the money he needed to expand but lost control of his own company, as Carnegie quickly became majority stockholder. His vast steel mills at Braddock, Duquesne, and Homestead boasted the latest equipment and were the most productive in the world.
Carnegie was a shrewd businessman, nicknamed the "Steel King", and a hard task-master, holding down wages and keeping costs to a minimum and prices below his competitors. When he sold out to the US Steel Corporation in 1901 for $250 million, he found himself one of the richest men in the world. Exactly 50 years since he had arrived in the United States, he had succeeded beyond his wildest expectation in business acumen and material wealth. But he had never forgotten the pain and poverty of his childhood and understood more than most the social injustices in life. He felt it his moral duty to put something back into society believing that "the man who dies rich, dies disgraced."
Carnegie was particularly concerned in giving less fortunate people an education. He invested part of his fortune in building 2,500 libraries across the United States and Britain. He endowed universities, set up trust funds, pension schemes and foundations to assist students, medicine and social projects. He funded the building of the Carnegie Hall, New York and in his adopted city he created the Carnegie Museum of Art, which opened in 1895.
A Palace of Culture
The Carnegie Museum of Art is just one organisation within the extensive Carnegie Institute - a Palace of Culture - covering contemporary art and sculpture, Architecture, a Music Hall, Natural History, Science, a library as well as important city educational colleges. Carnegie's aim in creating an art gallery was to introduce to the people of Pittsburgh the best contemporary American and European artists of the day. The gallery would focus on the Old Masters of Tomorrow, purchasing new work for a permanent collection. An annual exhibition, the Carnegie International, was launched in 1896. This has featured through the years, new work by Whistler, Pissaro, Matisse, de Kooning, Jackson Pollok and David Hockney. Over a century later the International (now triennial) is a world class, prestigious event. It continues to reflect a bold, eclectic selection process to capture 'the spirit of the age', innovative contemporary art, which has always been the ambition of the museum.
38 artists were selected for the 2004/ 5 Carnegie International, representing five continents from the US, Germany, China, Japan, Italy, Turkey, Ethiopia, Poland, Ireland, England and - (Carnegie would have been proud to see) - Scotland. Peter Doig from Edinburgh is a world traveller and paints sun drenched landscapes and islands, capturing distant horizons or the empty road ahead - see illustration. In contrast Jim Lambie (Glasgow), makes unusually surreal installations using everyday objects such as handbags, chairs, photographs and record albums. His name came to prominence with his piece Zobop, which has been exhibited in Edinburgh, London, Venice and now Pittsburgh, where he covers the floor of a gallery room using strips of glossy black and psychedelic vinyl duct tape. Imaginative and fun.
The entire exhibition is absolutely fantastic, colourful and inspiring, as you walk from room to room to observe what's new around the world in painting, animation, sculpture, photography, film, video and installations. The winner of the Carnegie Prize for 2005 is Kutlug Ataman from Turkey for his extraordinary 40 TV monitor installation.
The Carnegie Museum of Art offers a superb collection of American and European art from the late 19th century to the present day - French Impressionist, American Expressionism, drawings and watercolours. Arranged in chronological order, fine art is interspersed with decorative arts, furniture, silverware and ceramics to show the complete picture of a creative period.
Andrew Carnegie was determined to bring the world to Pittsburgh when he created a Sculpture Court. Marble replicas of some of the most famous classical architectural sites, churches, monuments and Ancient Greek ruins are on show. The magnificent Hall itself is modelled on the Temple of Athena in the Acropolis, Athens and this collection is unique in America.
Children are enthralled by the Carnegie Museum of Natural History, which houses one of the finest dinosaur collections in the world including skeletons of Tyrannosaurus Rex, Diplodocus and other wonderful fossils. The Carnegie Science Center where education can be fun with a planetarium, a submarine and Omnimax theatre.
Continued on Page 2 - with Andy Warhol, the Mattress Factory, the Cultural District, Shopping, Dining, Visitor Attractions and Where to Stay.
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