From a city that built its reputation on the gritty steel industry, Pittsburgh has evolved over the past 25 years into a cosmopolitan metropolis that perfectly pays homage to its industrial roots. The gleaming downtown cityscape embraces the beautiful bounty of its waterfront location, while Pittsburgh’s diverse culture is showcased by plentiful places to eat, drink, play and explore. It’s the ideal setting to welcome more than 5,000 FOP members and their families to attend the 62nd Biennial Conference and to pay tribute to the city where the FOP started 100 years ago.
Where It All Began
In the early 20th century, police officers in Pennsylvania commonly endured 12-hour shifts nearly every day of the year. Overtime hours without additional pay were routine. There was no one to air grievances with, and even if officers tried, there was no formal organization to back them.
By 1915, two officers in Pittsburgh, where working conditions were particularly brutal, had had enough. Through weeks of secret messages and invitations, Officers Martin L. Toole and Delbert Nagle managed to collaborate with roughly 300 other city cops and formed the Fraternal Order of Police, the first formal labor organization to represent the interests and needs of law enforcement officers. Today the FOP boasts more than 2,100 lodges throughout the nation.
“Most of the men and women in the FOP, and especially those from Pennsylvania, feel a real attachment to Pittsburgh. It’s really important to us because it’s the birthplace,” says Joe Regan, recording secretary for the Pennsylvania State Lodge and member of Lower Marion Lodge #28. “This year a lot of people are expected. FOP represents 326,000 officers. What an accomplishment, considering it was started by two Pittsburgh cops in a time when you weren’t supposed to organize.”
Bringing the Conference home is historic and meaningful, but it’s also sure to be heaps of fun. Here are some ideas on how to spend your days.
South Shore/North Shore
The Conference kicks off at noon on Sunday, August 9, with more than 140 exhibitors showcasing their products at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center in the heart of downtown. The world’s only LEED-certified convention center also features a not-to-be missed public art program. Scattered throughout the building’s four floors are myriad canvases and photographs that celebrate Pittsburgh’s renewed spirit. Check out the pop art Heinz Triptych Bottles by Burton Morris, and marvel at Jack Wolfe’s photographs of the city’s massive steel bridges.
For a high-end craft food experience, plan ahead to get seated at Meat and Potatoes, Pittsburgh’s first gastropub, located in the theater district. Reservations need to be made three weeks in advance (although according to the website a few tables are left open for walk-ins).
Don’t miss PNC Park on the North Shore, where you can catch a Pittsburgh Pirates major league baseball game. (The Pirates will be hosting the L.A. Dodgers August 7–9.) On Sundays, the Pirates offer discounted tickets to kids 14 and younger, invite children to run the bases after the game, and promote a kid’s day at the Family Fun Zone just outside the park. Be sure to nosh on a Pittsburgh stalwart, the behemoth coleslaw- and french-fry-stuffed Primanti Brother’s sandwich, at the game.
Keep the sporting fun going with a tour of Heinz Field, the waterfront home of the Pittsburgh Steelers, six-time Super Bowl champions. Guides will take you behind the scenes to the FedEx Great Hall, clubs, luxury suites, press box and, of course, the field. Don’t forget your Terrible Towel!
On your way out, pose for some snaps at the 11-foot bronze Mister Rogers’ sculpture, Tribute to Children. And be sure to pay tribute to some of Allegheny County’s finest who have died in the line of service at the Law Enforcement Officers Memorial.
Next, head to the only state park in the country that’s located smack dab in the heart of a city. The 34-acre Point State Park includes Fort Duquesne, the Fort Pitt Museum, and the city’s most recognizable landmark, the 100-foot Fountain, which sits at the confluence of the Allegheny, Monongahela and Ohio Rivers. It’s the perfect backdrop for learning to paddle with Kayak Pittsburgh. After being shown the basics, you are free to paddle the river and enjoy the scenery. Group discounts are available for parties of 10 or more.
A short cab ride across the Monongahela River will take you to the Duquesne and Monongahela Inclines. These 18-personcapacity cars climb to the summit of Mount Washington, offering stunning panoramic vistas of Pittsburgh’s skyline. Try to arrive just before sunset to see the city transform into a glowing wonderland as night falls.
Don’t miss dinner at the historic Grand Concourse restaurant, located in the former Pittsburgh and Lake Erie Railroad Station, with its gilt detailing and gorgeous stained glass.
Night owls can spread their wings in the city’s South Side, a multiblock stretch of bars, nightclubs and restaurants nestled along a bend in the Monongahela River that’s sure to have something for everyone!
Ice cream for breakfast? Why not? Especially when it sits atop fluffy, melt-in-your-mouth pancakes, one of the specialties at De Luca’s Restaurant, the Strip District joint that earned national fame when featured in Man v. Food. Expect a line out the door and bring cash — credit cards aren’t accepted.
Shopping in Lawrenceville is a fantastic way to burn off that huge breakfast. A 20-minute walk along the Allegheny River will bring you to this creative South Shore hive, loaded with independent boutiques, art galleries and handcrafted gifts. Hit up Jupe Boutique and Pavement for clothing, Dragonfly Castle Toys for no-batteries toys for kids, and EveryOne An Artist Gallery for one-of-a-kind paintings, photographs and sculptures created by local artists with disabilities. Sports fans will want to stop at the Roberto Clemente Museum, dedicated to the life and legacy of “The Great One.” (Clemente helped lead the Pirates to two World Series championships in the 1960s and 1970s.)
When those hunger pangs return, head straight for Il Pizzaiolo in Market Square, Pittsburgh’s version of a European piazza. Nearly everything on the menu is handmade, and if it’s not, it’s imported from the world’s best artisans, cheesemakers and salumerias.
After refueling, cross to the North Shore and explore some of Steel City’s finest museums. Start at the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh, with exciting activities for kids in all age groups.
Across Allegheny Commons, the National Aviary features more than 500 birds of 150 different species from around the world. The walk-through exhibits ensure you can see, hear and even touch these incredible birds (interactive feedings with bats, pelicans and lorikeets take place every day).
The Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh have four museums to choose from! The Carnegie Museum of Natural History will satisfy anthropology buffs; the Carnegie Museum of Art showcases everything from contemporary to digital collections; the Carnegie Science Center will keep folks of all ages mesmerized with mind-bending experiences such as a two-story, walk-in replica of the International Space Station; and the Andy Warhol Museum celebrates the life and works of the famed Pittsburgh-born artist.
There is no better example of city’s culinary chops than Cure, the bold, locally sourced restaurant founded by 2014 James Beard Foundation nominee James Severino. Make a reservation well in advance to bite into the top-rated hanger steak.
Eager to extend your fun through the night? Check out the Cultural District, a 14-square block area within downtown filled with theaters, live music venues and exciting nightlife. Olive or Twist has a diverse menu of specialty martinis, and musicians hit the stage Thursdays through Saturdays.
Honor the Fallen
The FOP encourages members and their families to visit the Flight 93 National Memorial in Stoystown, Pennsylvania, about 60 miles from Pittsburgh. The memorial honors the 40 passengers and crew who died on September 11, 2001, when they prevented terrorists from flying an airplane into the U.S. Capitol. “If you get the chance, absolutely go to the memorial,” recommends Regan. “It’s a very moving experience.”
With so many options, however you choose to spend your days in Pittsburgh, it’s sure to be a memorable trip. See you at the Conference!
For more information on the 62nd Biennial Conference, including schedules, seminars and more, check out the Summer 2015 issue of the Journal.
2306 E Carson St.
3629 Butler St.
Dragonfly Castle Toys
4747 Hatfield St.
EveryOne an Artist Gallery
4128 Butler St.
The Roberto Clemente Museum
3339 Penn Ave.
Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh
10 Children’s Way, Allegheny Commons
700 Arch St.
Allegheny Commons West
Carnegie Museum of Natural History
4400 Forbes Ave.
Carnegie Museum of Art
4400 Forbes Ave.
Carnegie Science Center
One Allegheny Ave.
Andy Warhol Museum
117 Sandusky St.
Flight 93 National Memorial
6424 Lincoln Highway
Sunday, August 9
PA FOP Welcome Reception and Hospitality Suite
David L Lawrence Convention Center
1 – 5 p.m.
Monday, August 10
(Choose one or both events)
Kennywood Amusement Park
4 – 10 p.m.
6 – 10 p.m.
Tuesday, August 11
Nightwatch: A Tribute to Our Founders
Senator John Heinz History Center
6 – 10 p.m.
Wednesday, August 12
Centennial Celebration Birthday Bash
David L. Lawrence Convention Center
6 – 10 p.m.
Event pricing will be available by mid-June. Please check the www.pafop100.com
website for updates.
David L. Lawrence Convention Center
1000 Fort Duquesne Blvd.
Point State Park (The Fountain)
101 Commonwealth Place
Fort Duquense, Point State Park
Three Rivers Heritage Trail System
Fort Pitt Museum, Point State Park
601 Commonwealth Place
Tribute to Children Sculpture
North Shore Dr. (behind Heinz Field)
Law Enforcement Memorial
North Shore Dr. and Art Rooney Ave.
South Side Welcome Center
1100 East Carson Street
The Cultural District
719 Liberty Ave.
Meat and Potatoes
649 Penn Ave.
Locations throughout Pittsburgh
100 West Station Square Dr.
2015 Penn Ave.
8 Market Square
5336 Butler St.
Olive or Twist
140 6th St.
Two riverfront locations
100 Art Rooney Avenue
115 Federal Street
1197 West Carson St.
125 West Station Square Dr.