Pittsburgh, PA

Urban Exploration: Discovering Pittsburgh's Abandoned Places


Urban exploration, often referred to as "urbex," is a growing trend that involves exploring and documenting abandoned or off-limits locations in urban areas. Pittsburgh, with its rich industrial history and evolving landscape, offers a myriad of opportunities for urban explorers to uncover hidden gems amidst its abandoned spaces. In this article, we will embark on a virtual journey through Pittsburgh's forgotten sites, where history, mystery, and a sense of adventure converge.

  1. Carrie Blast Furnaces

The Carrie Blast Furnaces, located in Rankin, just outside Pittsburgh, are a haunting reminder of the city's steel-making past. These towering structures once played a vital role in the region's industrial prowess. Today, the abandoned furnaces stand as eerie monoliths, attracting urban explorers with their imposing presence and decaying beauty. Guided tours allow visitors to delve into the site's history, offering a glimpse into Pittsburgh's industrial heritage.

  1. The Pennsylvania Railroad Ghost Tunnel

Nestled along the Three Rivers Heritage Trail, the Pennsylvania Railroad Ghost Tunnel is a captivating destination for urban explorers. This abandoned tunnel, once part of the Pennsylvania Railroad system, now lies forgotten beneath the city. With its dark and mysterious atmosphere, the tunnel presents an intriguing opportunity to venture into Pittsburgh's subterranean past.

  1. Dixmont State Hospital

Dixmont State Hospital, located on a hill overlooking the Ohio River, was once a prominent psychiatric facility. Its imposing Victorian architecture and sprawling grounds now sit in a state of abandonment. Exploring the halls and rooms of this eerie place provides a glimpse into the history of mental healthcare and the remnants of a bygone era.

  1. Westinghouse Atom Smasher

Hidden within a forested area near Forest Hills lies the remnants of the Westinghouse Atom Smasher. Built in the 1930s for nuclear research, this massive structure was once at the forefront of scientific innovation. Today, it stands as a testament to Pittsburgh's technological legacy, drawing urban explorers seeking a glimpse into the city's scientific past.

  1. Mellon Institute

The Mellon Institute, located in the heart of Pittsburgh's Oakland neighborhood, was once a center for scientific research and discovery. This striking Beaux-Arts building, now abandoned, holds an air of mystery and grandeur. Its empty laboratories and forgotten hallways provide a glimpse into the scientific advancements that once took place within its walls.

Safety and Legal Considerations

While urban exploration can be an exhilarating experience, it is essential to prioritize safety and abide by the law. Many abandoned places are private property or pose hazards, so it is important to exercise caution and respect any restrictions in place. Engaging in urban exploration with a knowledgeable guide or experienced group can enhance the experience while ensuring safety and compliance with legal requirements.

Remember to approach urban exploration with caution and respect for the locations you visit. Here are a few tips to keep in mind:

  1. Safety First: Prioritize your safety when exploring abandoned places. Wear appropriate footwear, bring a flashlight, and be mindful of potential hazards such as unstable structures or debris. It's also advisable to explore with a buddy or a group for added safety.
  2. Research and Plan: Before visiting any location, conduct thorough research to understand the history and potential risks associated with it. Familiarize yourself with local laws and regulations regarding urban exploration. Some sites may require permission or have restricted access, so plan accordingly.
  3. Leave No Trace: While exploring, take care to leave the location as you found it. Avoid causing any damage or disturbing the environment. Leave behind only footprints and capture memories through photographs, not by taking physical mementos.
  4. Respect Privacy: Keep in mind that some abandoned places may be located near private properties or communities. Respect the privacy of nearby residents and avoid trespassing or causing any disruptions.
  5. Preserve History: Urban exploration is an opportunity to document and preserve the history of these abandoned places. Capture photographs, videos, or write about your experiences to share with others, but do so with respect for the location's historical significance.

Urban exploration offers a unique way to connect with the past, appreciate the architectural beauty of forgotten spaces, and gain a deeper understanding of a city's history. Pittsburgh, with its intriguing mix of industrial heritage and architectural splendor, presents a wealth of opportunities for urban explorers seeking adventure and discovery.

So, lace up your shoes, grab your camera, and embark on a journey through Pittsburgh's abandoned places. Uncover the stories that lie within their decaying walls, and let the echoes of the past guide you on a fascinating exploration of the Steel City's forgotten realms. Just remember to explore responsibly, embrace the thrill of the unknown, and leave behind nothing but footsteps and memories of your unforgettable urban adventure.


Pittsburgh's abandoned places offer a captivating journey into the city's past, allowing urban explorers to discover hidden stories and forgotten spaces. From the remnants of its industrial heritage to abandoned institutions and forgotten tunnels, each location carries its own unique allure. As urban explorers traverse these sites, they become modern-day archaeologists, uncovering the layers of Pittsburgh's history and embracing the sense of adventure that comes with exploring the unknown. So, grab your camera, don your adventurous spirit, and embark on an urban exploration journey to unlock the secrets of Pittsburgh's abandoned places.

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