“You plan right, you can unlock any door.”
August Wilson, Gem of the Ocean
Perched atop the Hill (or, “the crossroads of the world,” as it has been called), Cliffside Park is the perfect spot for landscape painters and photographers. Showcasing Downtown Pittsburgh, the rivers, and the Ohio Valley, the vast view from the park is picture-perfect.
The view inside the park, however, hasn’t always been so picturesque.
Built in 1975, Cliffside Park has always been a neighborhood hub. After a few decades, though, the park started to lose its luster as many of its amenities suffered from neglect and disrepair. But despite its decline, park neighbors continued to enjoy and care for their local greenspace — and became the primary movers and shakers in getting it back on its feet.
Since 2009, the Parks Conservancy has worked alongside passionate Cliffside residents and organizations on Find the Rivers! Greenprint for the Hill District, a plan to revitalize this vibrant, historic neighborhood. This year, the Hill (or, “Village in the Woods,” as it is now being called) has undertaken a huge step forward in the Greenprint: the complete renovation of Cliffside Park.
Woven into the plans for the new Cliffside Park are interpretive art pieces that recall fantastic Hill District artists, past and present. This week, as we’re celebrating art in the parks with PittsburghGives Arts Day of Giving (going on today!), we want to take you on a behind-the-scenes tour of the public art to be displayed at Cliffside Park:
A new half-court for basketball will surround players with smiling faces of local Hill residents caught by Charles “Teenie” Harris and local photographers. These custom graphics are not only tangible memories of the Hill during its vibrant past, but also an inspiration for current and future generations. These graphics, printed on fabric and lining the court’s fencing, feature photographs from the Oliver M. Kaufmann Photograph Collection and the Teenie Harris Collection.
The Hill District sets the stage for nine of the ten Pittsburgh Cycle plays written by August Wilson. Wilson’s words will be coming to life on a stage of their own in the center of the park, guiding visitors along the park’s path towards the overlook. Inscribed on aluminum, powerful quotes from a variety of his plays will demonstrate the literary genius of August Wilson while representing the Hill’s history, culture, consciousness, and attitudes over the span of 100 years. Below are a few favorites:
“You don’t sing to feel better. You sing ‘cause that’s a way of understanding life.”
Ma Rainey, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
“Love don’t know no age and it don’t know no experience.”
Vera, Seven Guitars
“The city flexes its muscles. Men throw countless bridges across the rivers, lay roads, and carve tunnels through the hills sprouting with houses.”
Introduction to Joe Turner’s Come and Gone
Today, be sure to support art in the parks by taking part in PittsburghGives Day of Giving. Donations of $15 and over made between 6am and midnight will be partially matched. Just go to www.PittsburghGives.org, designate your gift to Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy, and watch your support go even further today. Thank you for supporting art in your parks!