Doors Open Pittsburgh
The Pennsylvanian. Courtesy Doors Open Pittsburgh.

If you dream of walking around the mayor’s office but don’t want to get arrested, then Doors Open Pittsburgh is the event for you.

On October 6 and 7, more than 45 historic and mainly off-limits Pittsburgh buildings will open their doors to the public for historic and architectural reveling.

Doors Open Pittsburgh “gives you a reason to explore buildings that you may never have been inside, or had no idea they existed,” says Bonnie Baxter, founder of Doors Open Pittsburgh.

The concept of the “Open Door” event originated in Glasgow in 1990. Since then, the idea spread from Scotland to the entire world, with cities like London, New York and Milwaukee hosting their own annual events. Baxter was inspired by a tour through the historic section of Chicago.

Pittsburgh’s first Doors Open event in 2016 drew more than 4,000 attendees. Last year attracted more than 5,000 people.

While the previous events focused on the buildings of Downtown Pittsburgh, such as The Frick Building and City Hall, this year will be the first to include historic spaces on the North Side such as the Boggs Mansion and Calvary United Methodist Church.

So along with poking around in the mayor’s office and City Council chambers, viewing the river from the roof of the David L. Lawrence Convention Center and exploring other Downtown spaces, ticketholders can wander through sites like the 19th-century lagering caves at Penn Brewery — including some accessed from the second floor of the building which aren’t normally open to the public.

Local partners for the event include the Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation, AIA Pittsburgh, Design Center, Green Building Alliance and Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership.

“Pittsburghers and people who come here are always surprised by what they see in terms of architecture,” Baxter told NEXTpittsburgh in a conversation about Doors Open last fall. “We have such a diverse collection of styles, and a lot of our buildings are very well maintained. It’s impossible to walk past some of them and not be a little curious. What’s inside? What’s this building’s story?”

Tickets are available now.

Bill O'Toole

Bill O'Toole was a full-time reporter for NEXTpittsburgh until October, 2019. He previously reported in Myanmar.