This is the third in a five-part series exploring public art in Pittsburgh neighborhoods that is visible along the course of the DICK’S Sporting Goods Pittsburgh Marathon. This article highlights the West End and South Side. Click here for details about the Marathon.
Natives and locals know that perhaps the most photogenic and unobstructed views of Pittsburgh’s skyline can be savored from the West End—particularly at West End Overlook Park. Located two miles from Downtown along the Ohio River, this section of town has written its own West Side Story in recent years—a comeback story.
West End Village has seen an upsurge in its design district. James Gallery, Artifacts and Ceramiche Tiles offer eclectic and downright exquisite antiques, art and home design materials.
Come on out and take in the gorgeous view of Pittsburgh from the overlook, or from the West End Bridge, as you watch runners race along the Ohio River.
Race Route: This portion of the route traverses the West End Bridge. Runners are only in the West End for slightly over a mile before moving onto the South Side.
WEST END BRIDGE
The West End Bridge is touted by runners as one of the most beautiful views of the city from along the course, and is its own work of art. The bridge’s steel bowstring arch creates a graphic gateway near the confluence of the Allegheny and Monongahela Rivers, with the West End Circle on one side and the North Side’s Chateau neighborhood on the other. The bridge took its rightful place on the National Register of Historic Places in 1979 and was given a massive springtime facelift in 2006 when Riverlife staged a competition to design a pedestrian bridge, which our runners can now enjoy.
“Public Safety Building Mural”
Policeman, fire fighters, first responders and one cool K-9 officer are all commemorated in this mural by Carson Street Gallery Artists. While it’s located at 305 South Main Street, the setting of the mural appears to be at the West End Overlook—again, one of the best views of The Point from anywhere in the city.
“Mural of faded trees”
The paint has definitely faded from this mural of trees but it still offers runners and passersby a shot of nature along South Main Street (at Alexander Street).
The colorful artwork at 1756 West Carson Street—tucked down next to the West End Bridge—is a good place for runners to pray for stamina to keep going. Represented in this inspired painting by Nick Parrendo (president of Hunt Glass Studios) are the Holy Family, Moses, Noah and the Ark, Jonah and the Whale, as well as other images from both the good book’s Old and New Testaments.
Block Party Alert! Don’t miss the West End Neighborhood Festival on race day at South Main Street between Alexander and Sanctus. Teens from Xtreme Tumbling and Dance Center will dazzle the crowd with cutting-edge tumbling choreography.
“Flats” and “slopes” aren’t just something that runners might be concerned with. They’re also terms used to describe the two official neighborhoods that comprise the South Side: the South Side Flats and the primarily residential South Side Slopes. Once the center of glass production in the United States, it’s located along the Monongahela River, south of Downtown.
This part of town has it all, rivaling hip enclaves like NYC’s SoHo and San Fran’s Union Street. Here you’ll find quirky shops, bohemian boutiques, retro guitar and record shops, kitschy antiquaries and art galleries, counterculture clothing and paraphernalia stores, and good eats up to and around SouthSide Works. After the race, take in a live City Theatre or music venue performance—or, yep, get a tattoo.
Of course, there are bars upon bars—so kick back a cold one and cheer on the runners as they venture along East Carson Street. For a more cardio-positive option, hike or bike along the five miles of Riverfront Trail (it connects to the Great Allegheny Passage, going all the way to Washington, DC) or catch a flick at the SouthSide Works movie complex.
Race Route: South Side is the neighborhood where runners spend the greatest number of miles—from Miles 7.5 through 10. The Birmingham Bridge is the final bridge that all racers will cross.
Runners met two “Stone Maidens” by Eugenio Pedon near Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh on the North Side. Now they will pass by two more on Commerce Drive in Station Square. Like the previous ones, these “Ladies of Stone” (originally created in 1889) sat atop the Federal Building before being rescued from demolition in 1966.
“East Carson Street Treasures”
People of the South Side (including the faces of some actual residents) dominate this Sprout Fund-sponsored mural at Five Terminal Way in the Slopes by David Hawbaker. Harkening back to the ‘Burgh’s industrial legacy, the ghost of a steel worker (a self-portrait of the artist) sits wistfully at a small table and watches over children as they play with beads, nesting dolls and other treasures from local shops.
“Peace Goddess Burgundy”
Los Angeles native and graphic illustrator Shepard Fairey went from obscure street artist to political statement maker during the 2008 presidential election when his Obama/HOPE poster gained mainstream accolades. Fairey came to the 412 in 2009 to exhibit at the Andy Warhol Museum. While here, Fairey did that thing street artists do: he posted artwork around the city prior to the show’s opening, including this lovely goddess along East Carson at 11th Street.
“Welcome to Birmingham”
This mural by architect John Martine creates a mini piazza-like feel at 1200 East Carson Street. Painted nearly 40 years ago, it has weathered the test of time. This sliver of the South Side was so named in 1811 when King George III gave the land John Ormsby, who then named it after Birmingham, England.
Block Party Alert! Show up at 1100 East Carson Street on race day to celebrate at the South Side Neighborhood Festival, with plenty of live music and entertainment.
With this part of the course, runners will have gone about 11 miles. Next up in this series: Oakland, Shadyside and Point Breeze.
For Public Art walking tours, visit:
For more details about the neighborhoods, visit: http://www.pittsburghcityliving.com/neighborhoodList.php.