Pittsburgh According to ChatGPT

Pittsburgh According to ChatGPT

In which we challenge ChatGPT's Pittsburgh IQ

It's all over the headlines. It's every session of your latest conference. It's ChatGPT, the artificial intelligence chatbot which, supposedly, will soon be writing most of the websites and social media posts you see online.

General trivia and statistics are fine, but in this blog, I aim to find out if ChatGPT is a Yinzer just like us. Would I be greeted with friendly, helpful advice? Is this thing taking my job soon? Join me as I test the Pittsburgh IQ of the latest AI craze.

Header Photo Credit: Made via query of asking ChatGPT to draw the Duquesne Incline in text-based ASCII art.

I started off with some easy ones, just to get a feel for how ChatGPT responds and if it could get the basics of life in and travel to Pittsburgh!

Query: What is there to do in Pittsburgh?

Answer: Pittsburgh is a vibrant city with plenty to see and do. Here are some popular activities and attractions in the area: 

  • Visit the Strip District: The Strip is a lively, historic neighborhood known for its outdoor markets, specialty shops, and ethnic eateries. 
  • Explore the cultural district: Pittsburgh's Cultural District is home to theaters, galleries, and museums, including the Andy Warhol Museum and the Heinz History Center. 
  • Take a ride up the Duquesne Incline: This historic cable car offers stunning views of Pittsburgh's skyline from atop Mount Washington. 
  • Visit the Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens: This beautiful attraction features indoor and outdoor gardens, as well as seasonal exhibits and events. 
  • Check out the sports scene: Pittsburgh is home to several professional sports teams, including the Steelers (football), Penguins (hockey), and Pirates (baseball). 
  • Walk or bike along the Three Rivers Heritage Trail: This scenic trail follows the banks of Pittsburgh's three rivers and offers stunning views of the city. 
  • Visit the Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium: This family-friendly attraction features animals from around the world, as well as an aquarium and interactive exhibits. 
  • Take a tour of the Cathedral of Learning: This historic landmark is located on the University of Pittsburgh's campus and features stunning architecture and murals.

Answer Rating: 3/5

My Comment: Not bad for a first start. ChatGPT hits some nice highlights of the Burgh, but could use a bit of fine-tuning, as the Pittsburgh Zoo recently dropped "PPG" from the name and The Cathedral of Learning is known more for the Nationality Rooms and not necessarily murals. Also, ChatGPT uses the oxford comma by default. Ick. 

University of Pittsburgh – Credit: Tom Altany

Query: What's the best hidden gem in Pittsburgh?

Answer: As an AI language model, I don't have personal experiences or opinions. However, one hidden gem in Pittsburgh that is definitely worth a visit is the Trundle Manor. Trundle Manor is a private collection of oddities and curiosities located in Swissvale, a neighborhood just outside of Pittsburgh. The collection is owned and operated by a couple who have amassed an extensive collection of bizarre and unusual items, including taxidermy animals, vintage medical equipment, antique weaponry, and more.

Visits to Trundle Manor are by appointment only, and tours are led by the owners themselves, who provide detailed explanations of the items in the collection and share interesting stories and facts about their origins. The atmosphere of the manor is dark and macabre, with dim lighting, eerie music, and plenty of spooky décor.

Answer Rating: 4/5 

My Comment: Maybe not the first thing I think of when directing visitors to the city, but the info here is spot on down to how to book a tour in two short paragraphs. Uh-oh. 

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Ok, enough with the softballs. Let's get into some serious questions about travel and see if ChatGPT can keep the momentum going.

Query: When is the best time to visit Pittsburgh?

Answer: The best time to visit Pittsburgh depends on your preferences and interests. Here's a breakdown of the seasons and what they have to offer: 

Spring (March - May): Springtime in Pittsburgh brings warmer temperatures and blooming flowers, making it a great time to explore outdoor attractions like Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens. It's also a popular time for festivals, including the Three Rivers Arts Festival in June.

Summer (June - August): Summer in Pittsburgh is warm and sunny, making it a great time to enjoy outdoor activities like hiking, kayaking, and attending outdoor concerts and events. The city is also home to several popular summer festivals, including the Pittsburgh Jazz Festival and Picklesburgh.

Fall (September - November): Fall in Pittsburgh is beautiful, with colorful foliage and mild temperatures. It's a great time to take a scenic drive through the surrounding countryside or visit local pumpkin patches and apple orchards. The city also hosts several fall festivals, including the Pittsburgh Renaissance Festival.

Winter (December - February): Pittsburgh winters can be cold and snowy, but the city is still full of fun activities during the holiday season, including light displays, ice skating, and the Pittsburgh Holiday Market. It's also a great time to warm up with some hot chocolate and explore indoor attractions like museums and galleries.

Answer Rating: 4/5

My Comment: Once again, some very nice info here on the seasonality of the city! It seemed to get a little confused on the timing, as the Jazz Festival is in September and Three Rivers Arts Fest is in June, but this is a nice, succinct overview.

Query: Can you help me plan a two day trip to Pittsburgh?

Answer: Absolutely! Here's a suggested itinerary for a two-day trip to Pittsburgh:

Day 1:

  • Morning: Start your day with a visit to the Strip District, a historic neighborhood known for its unique shops, markets, and restaurants. Grab breakfast at Pamela's Diner, a local favorite that's famous for their hotcakes and crepe-style pancakes.
  • Afternoon: Take a ride up the Duquesne Incline for stunning views of the city skyline and the three rivers. Visit the Andy Warhol Museum, which features the largest collection of Warhol's artwork and archives in the world. Have lunch at Primanti Bros., a Pittsburgh institution known for its hearty sandwiches piled high with meat, cheese, coleslaw, and fries.
  • Evening: Catch a Pirates game at PNC Park, one of the most beautiful baseball stadiums in the country. After the game, take a stroll along the North Shore Riverfront Park and enjoy the views of the city lights reflecting on the water.

Day 2:

  • Morning: Start your day with a visit to Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens, a beautiful 15-acre garden oasis in the middle of the city. Have brunch at The Zenith, a quirky vegetarian restaurant and antique shop in the historic South Side neighborhood.
  • Afternoon: Visit the Cathedral of Learning at the University of Pittsburgh, one of the tallest university buildings in the world and a stunning example of Gothic Revival architecture. Explore the Carnegie Museums of Art and Natural History, which offer a diverse range of art and science exhibits. Take a walk through Schenley Park, a beautiful urban park that features hiking trails, a public golf course, and a beautiful outdoor swimming pool.
  • Evening: Enjoy dinner at Church Brew Works, a brewery housed in a historic church that features wood-fired pizzas, pub fare, and a variety of craft beers. End your trip with a nightcap at one of Pittsburgh's many cocktail bars, such as Hidden Harbor or The Commoner.

Of course, this is just one possible itinerary for a two-day trip to Pittsburgh. There are plenty of other attractions, restaurants, and activities to explore, so feel free to adjust this itinerary to suit your interests and preferences.

Answer Rating: 5/5 

My Comment: This was the big "Wow" moment I had while doing this. Not only did all of the stops have accurate info accompanying them, they also made geographic sense in relation to one another. One day kept me around town and the second took me around Oakland and Lawrenceville, even ending with great cocktail places. 

I pressed it for reservations, but it can't interface with OpenTable or other reservation systems (yet) making this useful as a Planning tool but not necessarily a Booking tool. I tried the same with asking about upcoming concerts, but it again couldn't query that info, directing me to the VisitPITTSBURGH website instead (aw, that was nice).

Photo Credit: Kurt Miller

Query: Is Pittsburgh known for technology?

Answer: Yes, Pittsburgh is known for its thriving technology industry, especially in the fields of robotics, artificial intelligence, and autonomous systems. The city is home to many technology companies, research institutions, and universities that are leading the way in these fields.

One of the most famous technology companies in Pittsburgh is Carnegie Mellon University's Robotics Institute, which is consistently ranked as one of the top robotics research centers in the world. Other major technology companies with a significant presence in Pittsburgh include Google, Apple, Uber, and Amazon.

Answer Rating: 5/5

My Comment: These sort of middle-range questions seem to be where ChatGPT really excels and can save you a lot of time in researching and pulling info like this together. While not loaded with details, this is more than enough to get a writer or researcher started.

Now, let's have some fun. Pittsburgh culture is varied and unique, and I want to see how ChatGPT can handle our colloquialisms and what makes us special. 

Query: What does the slang "Kennywood's Open" mean?

Answer: The slang phrase "Kennywood's Open" is a colloquialism that originated in the Pittsburgh area and is used to describe a situation where something is chaotic, crazy, or out of control. The phrase is a reference to Kennywood Amusement Park, a popular theme park located in West Mifflin, Pennsylvania, just outside of Pittsburgh.


My Comment: The hardest I laughed during this conversation with AI. There's a reason why Eat 'n Park mentions this as you head into the men's bathroom...

Photo Credit: Jin Wu

Query: What is a "Parking Chair"

Answer: A "Parking Chair" is a term used in Pittsburgh to describe a common practice of reserving a parking spot on a public street by placing a chair or other item in the spot after a vehicle has been parked there, indicating that the spot is now occupied or "claimed" by the person who put the chair there. This practice is especially common during the winter months, when snow removal can make parking spots scarce. 

The use of a parking chair is not an official or legal method of reserving a parking spot on a public street, and it is not endorsed by the City of Pittsburgh. However, the practice has become so ingrained in Pittsburgh culture that it is often tolerated by other drivers, and removing a parking chair can sometimes result in confrontations or arguments. As such, it is generally recommended to respect the use of parking chairs in Pittsburgh, especially during the winter months when parking can be particularly difficult to find.

Answer Rating: 5/5 

My Comment: My personal favorite response which I also feels gives you insight into life in Pittsburgh and our various idiosyncrasies. Sure, it's not protected by the city and doesn't technically entitle you to the spot. But the parking chair is sacred and respected no matter when or where you see it. 

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Query: Are you a jagoff?

Answer: As an artificial intelligence language model, I don't have emotions or personality traits, so I cannot be a "jagoff" or anything else for that matter.

Answer Rating: 2/5

My Comment: People have been called a jagoff for much less. Lighten up a bit, ChatGPT.

Query: How many animals are in the Noah's Ark ride in Kennywood?

Answer: The Noah's Ark ride at Kennywood amusement park in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania features a variety of animatronic animals throughout the ride. The exact number of animals in the ride may vary, as the ride has undergone several renovations and updates over the years, but typically there are around 60-70 animatronic animals featured throughout the attraction. These include various animals such as lions, tigers, bears, monkeys, and birds, among others. The Noah's Ark ride has been a popular attraction at Kennywood since it first opened in 1936 and continues to be a favorite among visitors to the park.

Answer Rating: 5/5

My Comment: Ok even I didn't know that. Pretty impressive stuff. If you want some more fun, ask ChatGPT specific questions about secrets at Kennywood, PNC Park and more Pittsburgh staples for some apocryphal stories that may not show up on official websites. It did not, despite my best efforts, reveal the secret of Primanti's coleslaw.

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Query: Tell me about Picklesburgh in a Yinzer accent

Answer: Yinz wanna know about Picklesburgh, 'ey? Well, let me tell ya, it's a dahn-tahn Pittsburgh festival dedicated ta all things pickled! It's held every summer on the Roberto Clemente Bridge, and let me tell ya, it's aht of this world! Yinz can find all kinds a pickled goodies there, like pickled cucumbers, pickled beets, pickled eggs, even pickled watermelon! And that's not all, there's also live music, craft vendors, and lots of good eats from local food trucks. It's a real good time, and if yinz ever find yerself in dahntahn Pittsburgh in the summer, ya gotta check it aht!

Answer Rating: 5/5

My comment: Great use of aht, yinz and dahntahn. Well done

Further Research

I additionally asked ChatGPT about whether Pittsburgh was a green city, who Rick Sebak was, and even Andy Warhol's relationship to the band The Velvet Undeground, and got fantastic responses. So for doing your initial, high-level research, ChatGPT is quick and accurate without having to worry about whether you can trust a Google result.

If you want to use ChatGPT, see what you're able to do! These questions just scratch the surface of what the AI is capable of. Consider asking it to create art, music or tell you a story about Pittsburgh, and let me know what you discover!

Photo Credit: ChatGPT's Interpretation of The Velvet Underground album cover

So while I can proudly say that VisitPITTSBURGH is still the top dog when it comes to researching travel to the city, I have to commend ChatGPT for it's understanding and repect to what makes this a City of Multitudes. 

You're officially a Yinzer according to us, ChatGPT.