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By Kris B. Mamula / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
A breezy spot in the shade was reborn in the city’s Hill District with the dedication Saturday of the August Wilson Park.
Drummers, elected officials and nearby residents and children turned out for the dedication of the 1.1-acre hillside green space, formerly known as Cliffside Park, and located a few blocks from the childhood home of Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright August Wilson.
In addition to a cool breeze coming off the Allegheny River far below, the park features stunning views of the city’s Strip District, North Side and Veterans Bridge.
“Here, you can see everything,” said 73-year-old poet and sculptor Amir Rashidd, who moved to the Hill in the 1960s from Cleveland. “You can see all the communities.”
Grant funding covered most of the $1.3 million park makeover, which includes a serpentine walkway, two-level playground and historic life-size photos by Hill District photographer Charles “Teenie” Harris. Hillside Park was developed in 1975, but fell into disrepair in recent years.
Even so, “Neighbors never gave up on it,” said Susan Rademacher, who is curator for the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy, the nonprofit agency that manages city parks in cooperation with the city. “It was tired, it was old,” she said about the park. Now though, the rebirth “shows people what’s possible.”
Andrew JG Schwartz, managing principal of Downtown-based Environmental Planning & Design LLC, redesigned the park in collaboration with residents and community groups. The Eden Hall Foundation, Ryan Memorial Foundation, McAuley Ministries, City of Pittsburgh and other agencies funded the project.
The rebirth of the park, which is located on the northern edge of the Hill District, began in 2009 with development of the “greenprint” for the Hill District, a framework for a green urban landscape in a city community called the “Village in the Woods,” which straddles the Allegheny and Monongahela rivers.
“This place is absolutely amazing,” said Terri Baltimore, director of neighborhood engagement at the Hill House, which was among the partners in the park’s redevelopment. The park had been “loved back to health,” she said.
Kris B. Mamula:firstname.lastname@example.org, or 412-263-1699