PNC Green Wall - How much does PNC own?
My hopes were dashed to experience once again the fantasy of good ol’ USA Fourth of July Fireworks, this time in Pittsburgh. We were only 2 miles from downtown, normally a walkable distance for us. We were cautioned not to drive because of road (bridge) closures, lack of taxis and the hotel courtesy van would take us anywhere but downtown.
Walking – no satisfactorily safe routes
Driving – too congested
Taxis – not available; afraid to go
Bike – What Bike?!? What bike lanes, anyway?
With residual heat from the cars and asphalt pavement and concrete walls, the parking lot of the Hampton became our venue. The bottle of wine partly made up for the lack of light show revelry. I am told that the fireworks were a spectacle and with effort it could have been experienced more closely. But such is the City of Pittsburgh – a city in fear of its own infrastructure. Those highways and bridges are like the blood vessels in a body after a life that has matured from running, overheating, and now entering retirement years.
There is hope however with some of the makeup on the edges of the downtown covering the sores that are left from the dwindling steel industry. Station Square, I already blogged on http://yorkurbanist.com/2012/07/pittsburgh-day-1/, is pleasant and maturing into a landmark gathering place near the core, but across the river. The South Side results from daddy’s money being pumped into the former industrial plant lands by a young entrepreneur – again, across the river. And the magnificent Phipps Conservatory is a gem around which to develop a tourism strategy – in the hills.
Then there is sports architecture. But will the single event spaces for football, baseball, and hockey cause an enduring effect? Nice structures, especially PNC Park, Field of Dreams for the Pirates, that seems to present itself to the city’s downtown with every ball game (from across the river).
Pittsburgh is a sports mad town which has a Cultural District. But it is the cultural district that has the potential to initiate real cosmopolitanism. We were enthused by the first landing (from our car). From the 7th floor of the carpark we could first hear, then see, a jazz concert directly below in a pocket park. And beyond was the splendid Benedum Theatre. On the street it appeared there were more theatres. Bits and pieces of architecture catch our attention. For the city appears to celebrate its history.
The daytime Fourth of July celebrations had the makings of real culture but they melted in the heat, a city not ready, or its people not convinced it was worthy to endure the heat to go to a cultural festival. Day two fizzled for us, with no relief in the hard core centre of the city, and 93 degree weather.