A public park in the Hill District has been renamed and redesigned with an overlook to highlight the beautiful views and to celebrate two famous artists from the neighborhood. August Wilson Park features installations of quotes from Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright August Wilson, and photographs by nationally-known Hill photographer Charles “Teenie” Harris.
The park, formerly called Cliffside and located at 1801 Cliff Street overlooking Bigelow Boulevard, will reopen to the public next Saturday after an extensive planning process that included a lot of neighborhood input and support.
“Planning for the park always included a promise to the neighborhood that they would have final approval of any plan,” says Terri Baltimore, director of community engagement at Hill House Association. “We had honest discussions with the community, and used their input as the guiding force for what is now August Wilson Park.”
Future park programming will be developed by Hill District community groups, with literary readings, music, neighborhood festivals, and fireworks-viewing parties all in the works. This is the first park project to be based on the Greenprint for the Hill District by Walter Hood Design Studio which envisions a framework around which housing, commercial development, transportation, the arts, and community services can be built.
A long, serpentine path twists over the park’s steep grade allowing the park to be fully accessible in accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act. Amenities include a playground and basketball courts, in addition to the overlook with its views of the Allegheny River, North Side and Downtown.
“The August Wilson Park site has a steep incline from the street entrance to the cliff side below, and creating a plan that made the entire park accessible to all took creative thinking,” says Andrew Schwartz of Environmental Planning and Design. “Our goal was to bring as many of community ideas as possible into the plan while keeping the park accessible to all.”
A community event on August 6 from 2 to 4 p.m. will celebrate the opening of August Wilson Park, and will include a ribbon-cutting ceremony and an all-ages procession ending at the overlook. Children’s activities, park tours, music, and food vendors from the Hill District will round out the celebration.
Project partners are Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy, City of Pittsburgh’s Parks and Recreation and Public Works Departments, Hill House Association, and Daisy Wilson Artist Community, which recently announced the transformation of Wilson’s home several blocks away into a creative art space.