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Now Offering Virtual Architectural Tours

A combination of navigating streets on Google Maps, live narration by docents, and a slide presentation of supplemental material creates virtual versions of our beloved architecture tours. Shown here: a screen shot of a virtual tour of Carnegie, Pennsylvania, in November 2020.

We are delighted to announce that we will resume offering tours of Pittsburgh’s extraordinary architecture, which have been a mainstay of our education program for decades, this month. Our staff and dedicated docents would love to be outdoors with you— even in the cold weather —after so many months of confinement. However, in respect of Allegheny County’s public health guidelines for tackling the Covid-19 pandemic, we will instead offer live virtual tours.

Our virtual tours will be offered via Zoom Conference. Thanks to open-source mapping technology (Google Maps), docents can lead participants along a tour route in real time, as if walking on the street, but within the space of your computer screen. The laminated historical images that bring texture to our in-person tours also are shown in our virtual tours, as interjections of PowerPoint slides in the docents’ live narrative. Through the chat function in Zoom Conference, participants can engage with the docents and each other, much as they would on the street.

The result is a true multimedia presentation that allows participants to enjoy architecture tours from the comfort of their own homes. In fact, comfort is the operative term. As docent and former PHLF staff member has Karen Cahall pointed out, “on virtual tours, we can avoid things like bad weather, uneven or narrow sidewalks, and noise from traffic that sometimes challenge us on in-person tours.”

Google Maps also provides views that can’t be seen on in-person tours, by allowing us to scroll up a building to see details, zoom out for an aerial view, and travel farther than our feet could normally carry us in a single hour.

“We are truly excited to be able to offer tours again,” said Tracy Myers, co-director of education at PHLF. “I don’t believe any of our counterparts are doing tours in this way, and we’re eager to see how participants react to them. We’ve had to re-think each tour a little bit to accommodate the format, and as in every tech-enabled activity, there are occasional glitches. Our docents are working hard, though, to create authentic experiences, to remind us all why we love Pittsburgh’s architecture and history.”

Registration for tours will open on Saturday, December 5, and must be completed online. The fee is $7.50. For additional information, and to register, go to

Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation

100 West Station Square Drive, Suite 450

Pittsburgh, PA 15219

Phone: 412-471-5808  |  Fax: 412-471-1633