This is the second in a five-part series that explores public art in specific Pittsburgh neighborhoods that are visible along the course of the DICK’S Sporting Goods Pittsburgh Marathon. This article highlights the North Side and North Shore. For details about the Marathon, click here.
Pittsburgh would simply not be Pittsburgh without our sports teams. If our roadways, sidewalks and streets could talk, those of the North Shore would tell stories of sports glory over the decades, when umpteen Steelers, Pirates and Pitt fans tailgated then trekked to Heinz Field, PNC Park (and formerly, Three Rivers Stadium).
“Black and Gold” is this year’s Marathon theme. Runners and spectators will soon pour into these same streets and sidewalks once more to compete in the race, cheer on runners along the route, and possibly create the largest tailgate party in ‘Burgh history.
Race Route: This portion of the course is the one that has changed the most over previous years. From the first leg of the race Downtown, runners will continue onto the North Shore by crossing the 16th Street Bridge. They’ll hit their stride along East Ohio Street and around Allegheny Commons then head back down onto West General Robinson Street past PNC Park, Heinz Field, Carnegie Science Center and Rivers Casino. Both marathoners and half-marathoners will enjoy the public art within these neighborhoods.
16th STREET BRIDGE
Runners will cross the Allegheny River on the 16th Street Bridge and veer left toward the North Side and North Shore. This bridge, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, is itself a work of public art. Arguably one of the most stunning expanses in our City of Bridges, it took inspiration from Paris’ Pont Alexandre III, which spans the River Seine. Four massive stone pylons (two at each end) serve both as visual portals and arched passageways from pedestrians. Runners will have to look up to see the bronze-winged seahorses and armillary spheres atop each pillar, along with stone carvings of Poseidon/Neptune, a mythical woman, and a frieze of six fish.
The North Side, located north of the Allegheny and Ohio Rivers, is a tapestry of more than a dozen neighborhoods with gentrified names like Chateau, Fineview, Spring Garden, Summer Hill and Brighton Heights. A handful are historic districts: Deutschtown, Manchester, Allegheny West (with ties back to the American Revolution) and the Mexican War Streets, with its Victorian Era row houses.
One of the main drags, Ridge Avenue, was once “Millionaires Row” for local industrialists. Gertrude Stein got her start in life in a modest home on Beech Avenue. Among other renowned North Siders were painter Mary Cassatt and George Washington Gale Ferris Jr., who lived here when he created the now-legendary Ferris Wheel. The North Side’s future legacy in pro sports was set in 1903, when the first World Series was played between the Buccos and Boston at Exposition Park (which also hosted horse races and circuses).
Come out to support the runners then extend your fun by visiting the Mattress Factory, National Aviary or Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh. Finish your day by stopping at Gus & Yia-Yia’s Iceball Stand on West Ohio Street for a fresher-than-fresh, old-fashioned snow cone.
“Welcome to Deutschtown”
German fare, great beer, gourmet cupcakes, jazz music, an old-time general store and more can be found in Deutschtown. You’ll know you’re there upon seeing the “Welcome to Deutschtown” mural by David Lee Edwards. It evokes the sensation of stained glass through sunlight, with nine crests representing the towns of origin for the neighborhood’s earliest inhabitants.
This is a marathon, not track and field; but that doesn’t mean participants can’t enjoy “Discobulus,” a wood sculpture of a discus thrower replicated after the original bronze one in Greece created circa 450BC.
These “Stone Maidens” by Eugenio Pedon go by the names Navigation and Enlightenment. They’re part of a sculpture originally created in 1889 to grace the top of the Federal Building. Rescued from demolition in 1966, these fair ladies now greet visitors to Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh at the corner of West Commons Avenue.
The North Shore is, of course, where you’ll find Heinz Field, PNC Park, the Carnegie Science Center, and plenty of art along North Shore Drive. If you’ve never been to The Andy Warhol Museum at 117 Sandusky Street, it might be a great post-race thing to do.
“J. P. ‘Honus’ Wagner”
Runners won’t be able to, but anyone watching the race along West General Robinson Street will want to stop, pause and pay homage to the great Honus, created in 1955 by Frank Vittor. This impressive sculpture is one of four around PNC Park memorializing the greatest Pirates ever (the other three are Roberto Walker Clemente, Willie Stargel and Bill Mazeroski).
“Southwest Pennsylvania World War II Memorial”
Our city has several war memorials (Korean War, Vietnam War, etc.) and this one is dedicated to regional contributions to World War II—both on and off the fields of combat. Photographs inside the glass panels portray men in foxholes, women in factories, steel production and more.
“Law Enforcement Officers Memorial of Allegheny County”
This monument honors the brave fallen police officers from our region—including K9 officer Rocco, which was added in 2015 by artist Susan Wagner.
This is the second dino that runners will see from the remaining original 100 created for the Carnegie Museum of Natural History’s DinoMite Days campaign to showcase the works of established and emerging artists. Hanging out behind the Carnegie Science Center at One Allegheny Avenue, this combo bright-red-and-camo “SciTeratops” was made to commemorate His Royal Highness Prince Andrew’s visit to Pittsburgh in 2003.
“Langley Observatory Clock”
This sculpture along the Three Rivers Heritage Trail in the North Shore’s Riverview Park by R. M. Fischer is a testament to Samuel Pierpont Langley’s work and the city’s industrial history. Blue and yellow lights replicate railroad switchlamps, and atop the sculpture is a rotating clock minute hand with a shape that’s based on our three rivers.
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With this part of the course, runners will be wrapping up their first six miles and preparing to head across the Ohio River and their second bridge crossing. Next up in this series: The West End and South Side.
For Public Art walking tours, visit https://www.pittsburghartscouncil.org/public-art/walking-tours.
For more details about the neighborhoods, visit http://www.pittsburghcityliving.com/neighborhoodList.php.