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Doors Open invites families to explore and learn inside Downtown’s coolest buildings

Photo above courtesy of Doors Open Pittsburgh. 

If your kids are curious about Pittsburgh’s history, culture and incredible architecture (or you’d like them to be), stop by Doors Open Pittsburgh’s event on Saturday, Oct. 1.

From 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. that day, a ticket from Doors Open will get you access to a slew of historic Downtown buildings — including spaces that are normally off-limits to the public.

There are nearly 40 buildings in the Downtown area participating this year. Families can choose their own adventure and set their own pace as they visit the buildings that appeal to them. These include churches, theaters, art galleries, government offices, luxury apartment buildings, hotels, shops and more.

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Pittsburgh Playhouse photo courtesy of Doors Open Pittsburgh.

Among the stops on this year’s Doors Open event Downtown:

  • the Joinery Hotel, located in the former Salvation Army building on the Boulevard of the Allies
  • the Allegheny Law Library, which includes intricate woodwork from the early 20th century
  • the Pittsburgh Playhouse at Point Park University, where historical elements have been carefully preserved and reclaimed during the building’s redesign
  • the City-County Building
  • the Allegheny County Courthouse
  • Industrious, a coworking space that offers panoramic views from the top of One PPG Place
Joinery Hotel photo courtesy of Doors Open Pittsburgh.

It’s a great learning moment for kids: As families explore these and other buildings, volunteers will be on-hand at each building to share information about the architecture of the structures, as well as stories about the people and organizations that have inhabited them.

The day’s festivities will include a “photo safari” event designed specifically for kids.

Kids ages 5-12 can spend the day on the lookout for simple architectural details that are common across Pittsburgh’s buildings. The first 25 children who complete a bingo line on their “safari card” will win a special gift. This activity, meant to inspire the city’s next generation of young artists, architects, and historic preservationists, is being underwritten by the Grable Foundation.

Other kid-focused events include a visit from local author Angela D. Moss, who will read excerpts from her new middle-grade youth novel, “The Case of the Counterfeit Painting.” This story takes readers on a tour through Pittsburgh as the young protagonist tries to stop an art thief.

Families can also take one or both of the guided walking tours planned for Oct. 1:

  • the Antique Skyscrapers Tour with local historian Mark Houser takes guests up to the balconies and rooftops of four Downtown buildings for the rare chance to see the Golden Triangle from up above
  • a new tour in partnership with Riverlife will highlight the future development plans for Pittsburgh’s riverfronts.

The nonprofit hosts a series of these immersive events throughout the year to educate the public about the city’s past, present and future by offering unprecedented access to Pittsburgh’s iconic buildings.

“Pittsburghers are known for being nebby, and the Downtown Event invites you to be proud of this quality,” says Bonnie Baxter, founder and executive director of Doors Open Pittsburgh. “So often we walk by buildings without looking up to really notice the details, or pass doors and windows we wish we could peek into. Doors Open Pittsburgh feels that being curious is a good thing; by welcoming guests into these typically private spaces, we allow them to engage with and learn from the stories of all the people and places that came together to make Pittsburgh what it is today.”

Tickets are available online (free for kids 5 and under, $5 for kids 6-17, $15 for senior citizens and $18 for adult general admission). Get the full list of buildings and buy tickets right here.

Looking for more fun and educational family events? Check out our giant roundup of local fall happenings, plus our guide to five weeks of RADical days. and our roundup of great September events for kids.