Doors Open Pittsburgh lets people into city buildings, teaches history
Chrissy and Laura Condon are always in Downtown Pittsburgh. They’ve frequently passed by Liberty Magic, a new performance space dedicated to magic, but never had the chance to go inside.
Thanks to Doors Open Pittsburgh, they finally had an opportunity Sunday. They weren’t disappointed.
“We’ve been walking past it for eight months, and this is the first time we’ve been,” said Laura Condon, 21, of Morningside. “It was super cool.”
Doors Open Pittsburgh is an annual two-day event that celebrates the architecture, design and heritage of Pittsburgh buildings.
It started in 2016 and was modeled after Open House Chicago, a similar event that takes place in Chicago every year.
Event creator Bonnie Baxter is a native Pittsburgher who lived in Chicago for five years.
She said attending Open House Chicago made her realize just how much she took Pittsburgh for granted. She didn’t take the time to walk into or learn about buildings in her own hometown. She wanted to do something to change that, and started Doors Open Pittsburgh when she moved back here.
“I think, as humans, the longer we live in a place, the more we walk past or drive past and we don’t really take the time to step into these buildings and hear about their history,” Baxter said. “I think that’s what this event really is the impetus for.”
The event took place Saturday and Sunday. It featured 54 buildings in Pittsburgh’s Downtown and North Side sections. Seventeen of them, including Liberty Magic, were new to the event.
“It’s up-close magic and it’s an awesome, awesome space,” Baxter said of Liberty Magic.
The Condons attended Doors Open Pittsburgh last year. They enjoyed it so much they volunteered to be event greeters this year.
The mother and daughter duo said the event gives people the opportunity to see buildings they may not have had the chance to see before and learn about their history. Between 2,000 to 3,000 people attend the event each year.
“We’re both Downtown people. We’re here all the time. You see all these buildings. They’re old or they’re new and they look super cool. But, you don’t have a chance to go in them, or you’re not allowed to go in them, or it costs money to go in them,” Laura Condon said. “You get to see all the cool stuff that you never get to see.”
Those who went to Liberty Magic were able to tour the storefront, interact with magicians and see demos of magic tricks.
Magician Jacob Spence was demonstrating Three-card Monte, an old con game where people bet money on the assumption they can find a certain card.
He liked the fact people seemed interested in learning about the venue and about magic.
“I’m really enjoying all the people coming in,” he said.
Other buildings featured were Heinz Hall, The Bank Tower, PPG Place, the Speakeasy at the Omni William Penn Hotel, the Koppers Building, Benedum-Trees, the Boggs Mansion, Alphabet City, Byers Hall and the Mattress Factory.