Location: On the roof of Downtown Pittsburgh’s Benedum-Trees Building (home to NEXTpittsburgh’s office inside the Pittsburgh Downtown Media Hub) and Koppers Building

Featured guests: Mark Houser, historic skyscraper author, presenter and all-around expert

3 things that surprised me:

1. I asked Mark what would have been the most impressive part of the Benedum-Trees Building when it was built in 1905. He said it was probably the elevator since that made these new skyscrapers possible in the early 20th century. Mark pointed out some remaining nearby buildings dating to the 1800s that were all three or four stories tall and emphasized how wild it would be to have an 18-story building suddenly pop up next door.

2. Mark noted the building at the corner of Fourth Avenue and Wood Street, which was funded by James Arrott in 1902. Arrott was known as “the bathtub king of Pittsburgh,” as he made his fortune manufacturing white enamel bathtubs. A bathtub boom funded the construction of the then state-of-the-art building. The building is now home to The Industrialist Hotel.

3. From the roof of the Koppers Building, we had a close-up view of the U.S. Steel Tower. When it was built, it was the eighth tallest building in the world. Mark said that today it’s not even one of the 300 tallest buildings in the world.

One thing that didn’t make the final cut: Mark helped create this awesome site called Go Fourth Pittsburgh, where you can take an interactive audio tour of Pittsburgh’s historic Downtown. It’s free and delightfully informative.

Additional info: Mark’s giving a couple of historic skyscraper tours in Downtown Pittsburgh on Oct. 7 and 8. You can buy tickets here. Those tours coincide with Pittsburgh Architecture Week, which you can learn more about here. And Mark put together a great website with photos and information about historic skyscrapers across the country called Highrises Collection. If you want to pre-order a copy of Mark’s new book, you can do that here.

Want more Yinzer Backstage Pass? Check out our visit to a secret garden in Shadyside full of woodland ponds and magic temples.

Boaz is the host of NEXTpittsburgh's Yinzer Backstage Pass video series. He is also an author, filmmaker, advertising copywriter, teacher, experiential storyteller, talk show host, gardener, kazoo museum curator and so much more.