Pittsburgh Crèche

By Benjamin Staudenmayer

December 2019

The Pittsburgh Crèche describes an image with which most Christians are familiar: baby Jesus in the manger. While most Crèches are small handcrafted objects, the Crèche in Pittsburgh is quite the opposite. Located in the US Steel Tower Plaza downtown, this larger than life nativity scene display uses 66,000 pounds of wood and clay to artistically represent the scene of Jesus’ birth in the manger.

The size and beauty, however, are not the only things that make this Crèche significant and world-renowned; the Pittsburgh Crèche is the only Vatican authorized replica of the Crèche located in St. Peter’s Square in Rome. As a result, the Pittsburgh Crèche attracts Christians from all around the world between late November and early January. However, the Pittsburgh Crèche didn’t always refer to the huge display that is now present in the Steel Tower Plaza; in the early 1990s, there was another Crèche of smaller size located on city property in Pittsburgh. Due to a law passed in the late 1990s, religious displays were no longer permitted on city or government grounds. Thus, the Crèche was revamped completely, making the Vatican authorization of its new and larger size especially significant. All of this led to an easy publicity decision by the US Steel Tower to allow the Crèche on their plaza, which is private property and therefore not subject to the same laws as city property.

The Crèche is on display in the US Steel Tower Plaza from November until January and is open 24 hours a day. It’s estimated that annually there are 250,000 visitors who walk by or observe the Crèche’s beautiful display in the plaza, its location allowing for its beauty to be shared amongst Christians and non-Christians alike. During the Christmas season, take an hour out of your day to go downtown to visit the Pittsburgh Crèche. Regardless of your religion, the Crèche offers a reflective space in which one can take the time to admire the artistic beauty and planning that went into its creation.

Further Reading

“EDITORIAL: Creche Controversy: Let Pittsburgh Be the Guiding Star in This Dispute.” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 9 December 2010. EBSCOhost.

“PITTSBURGH CRECHE ENDOWMENT FUND.” The Pittsburgh Foundation, https://pittsburghfoundation.org/creche.

How to Cite

MLA: Staudenmayer, Benjamin. “Pittsburgh Crèche.” ReligYinz: Mapping Religious Pittsburgh. University of Pittsburgh, December 2019, https://religyinz.pitt.edu/pittsburgh-creche/.

APA: Staudenmayer, Benjamin. (2019 December). Pittsburgh Crèche. ReligYinz: Mapping Religious Pittsburgh. https://religyinz.pitt.edu/pittsburgh-creche/.

Chicago: Staudenmayer, Benjamin. “Pittsburgh Crèche.” ReligYinz: Mapping Religious Pittsburgh. University of Pittsburgh, December 2019. https://religyinz.pitt.edu/pittsburgh-creche/.

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