The legacy of 19th century steel baron Andrew Carnegie isn’t in the business he built, it’s what he built with his business. Carnegie was a believer in concept of the self-made man, like himself, and believed the masses would need access to education and cultural enrichment to fully realize their potential. He went about sponsoring many philanthropic works including 2,509 Carnegie libraries. Some of the libraries had an event space attached, the most ornate and grandiose of those spaces are sister music halls in New York and Pittsburgh.
The Carnegie Music Hall in Oakland, a neighborhood in Pittsburgh, was built in 1895 and is a grand example of the guilded age with gold leaf, marble, and frescos. The 1,928 seats in the theater are built from mahogany and covered with crimson velvet cushions. We learned that they also have wire cages under the seats where gentlemen once stored their top hats.
The acoustics are excellent. We recently visited to hear former Vice President Joe Biden speak and think even without the microphone he could have been heard loud and clear. If you have the chance to visit the hall, take it. You’ll be impressed with the design and wonder why they don’t build buildings this beautiful anymore.