Pennsylvania, Allegheny County, Pittsburgh
river mile 0
A view, and a beautiful view it is! This is where it starts, in a beautiful state park in the center of a major city, a major city now revitalized from its Rust Belt past into a center of technology and health care. Two guys, one on a bike, the other on a skateboard, unknown to each other, chat and hunt Pokemongo, an outdoor video game phenomenon that was popular for a month or so when the research team was doing the field research, but now, half a year later, has almost disappeared.
The park is full of people. Right in the center of the city, on this hot Monday afternoon, there are two 20-somethings walking along, a couple in their thirties sitting chatting — one of the research team identifies it as a first date — two women in their 20’s chatting as they move along the trail. There is a lawyer-like guy walking briskly, and a couple of late teens, a girl and a boy, huddled up in a shady corner. A woman in her 50’s a jogging. There’s a giant fountain , today not turned on, but the webpage promises that it has been turned on April 14, 2017 and will stay on until early November this year. There are speedboats in the river.
This park is the source of a lot of things. There are three trails. One is a greenway trail, the Three Rivers Heritage Trail, that goes up and down both sides of all three rivers. Hooray for Pittsburgh — taking real advantage of the rivers! — there is a water trail, the Three Rivers Water Trail, including an informative video of how to go through a lock. There is also the GAP — the Great Allegheny Passage — a long greenway on a former railroad line that can take you all the way to Washington, DC. 335 miles away. Park rangers also offer paddling on mornings and evenings, and provide the kayaks. This use of the park as a focal point for all sorts of activities should be the model for the rest of the more than 100 parks in this project!
There are lots of events — as attested to by the Special Event Guideline and Application, which offers space from 100 people on the Overlook to 17,000 people on the Lawn. Your large promotional event will cost $25,000, your small wedding, without a vehicle, $1000. Again, this is a resource. People seeking to figure out how to organize and fund public events in their park should examine this form.
If you want to take a look at history, the Fort Pitt Blockhouse is here — the only pre-Revolutionary War structure west of the Alleghenies. There also is a fascinating museum, the Fort Pitt Museum, that focuses on how four powers — the First Peoples, the British, the French, and the new nation of the United States attempted to control this critical focal point for transportation and economic development in the period before 1800.
No place for bike or paddle camping here — but enjoy Pittsburgh’s great hotels, B&B’s and airbnb’s.
Next park: Three Rivers Heritage Trail
Field research November 2016