I went to a concert at our annual Three Rivers Arts Festival weekend before last, and I captured so many images I was absolutely overwhelmed—as well as busy with a big project in house so I barely had a chance to review and edit photos. I realize it’s been a week since I posted anything at all! But a little distance from all those photos and getting the big project done gave me a little more perspective and choosing and editing images was actually easier.
The Point at Pittsburgh is the headwaters of the Ohio River, and the reason Pittsburgh exists where it does. The Allegheny River flows from the northeast and the Monongahela River flows from the south east and they come to a confluence in this valley and flow on to West Virginia, Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana and Illinois until it reaches the Mississippi River in Cairo, Illinois. It’s an interesting feeling to stand above this point and see the rivers come together and flow off through this landscape that was once so scarred by industry and pollution, but which is now clean and green, the hills still tree-covered, the waters, well, I’ve had a swim in each of the rivers.
The most surprising thing is the point itself. Because river travel was so important for industry, this very point was once the site of factories and warehouses, trainyards, docks and even coal tipples that loaded barges and boats to carry raw and finished materials from the hinterlands of Pennsylvania, Maryland and West Virginia into Pittsburgh, and picking up more to travel down the Ohio. If you’ve ever seen the land left behind after a steel mill or a chemical factory or a glass plant has moved on, it’s about as dead as the earth can be. But with the beginning of Pittsburgh’s Renaissance in the 1950s, this point of land was taken for a state park, rehabilitated and made a lovely place to visit and see the city and the rivers from a unique point of view—Pittsburgh is very hilly, and there aren’t many places that are this flat.
The fountain celebrates this spot with three short fans each facing a river, and the spire in the center fed by the “fourth river”, an underground river that flows out of Coal Hill or Mt. Washington directly underneath the Point.
The seal above is on the pavement near the edge of the wharf and has the names of each of the rivers on the side facing that river and also reads, “Point of Confluence, Point of Conflict, Point of Renewal”. A pentagonal shape marks the spot where Fort Duquesne once stood. I’ll be writing more about that with other photos coming in the next few days.
Below is a photo of the point from up on Mt. Washington from 2011 when the Point and the park were under construction so that you can get an idea where this fountain stands and see the confluence of two rivers that makes a third.
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The duck is in Pittsburgh, floating on the Allegheny River right by the Point, where the Allegheny and Monongahela converge to create the Ohio River. And as the artist Florentijn Hofman said of the project, people have come together to look, to talk and to engage opinions. Considering the multitude of cultures in this city between the universities, high-tech companies and the health care industry, it also achieves his goal of bringing world cultures together.
Also, each city the duck visits builds its own duck. Our duck was fabricated by an inflatables company in Ohio, and the pontoon structure was made just north of Pittsburgh in Newcastle.
Especially on rivers that were once sludgy with pollution Hofman’s point of our global waters being our bathtub is well taken. How many people know where their water comes from? How many people in Pittsburgh know our water comes from our three rivers? We do indeed bathe in this river, and the substances we drain into it flows downstream for others to use as their bathtub after us.
Below, in the city that gave us Mister Rogers, it’s just a beautiful day in the neighborhood, with a big yellow rubber ducky on the river. Read more in the Post-Gazette.
The skies were so dramatic today, huge clouds both creamy white and gray-purple sailing across the sky and casting oversized shadows on the land beneath. I drove across Mt. Washington again and, as always, stopped to photograph Pittsburgh. I did get a lovely set of images that I’ll combine into a panorama of the city with the buildings shining before deep gray clouds on the horizon, but today the element of fascination was the collection of bridges back and forth across all the rivers, and the rivers themselves, dark like bronze as the cold wind whipped the surface, erasing most reflections.
I’ve always loved Pittsburgh’s green and rolling tree-covered hills and the ridges along the river valleys, and of course it’s quite a show when autumn leaves color, but I also love the soft blues and purples of a November afternoon with the sun angling into the valley at its late autumn course.
Above is the Monongahela River with the Smithfield Street, Panhandle, Liberty, 10th Street and 16th Street Bridges; funny, I can remember the J&L mill taking up a good bit of the riverbanks in this scene years ago.
Below is the Allegheny River with the Fort Duquesne Bridge, “three sister bridges”, the Roberto Clemente, the Andy Warhol and the Rachel Carson Bridges, the Fort Wayne Railroad Bridge, the Veteran’s Bridge, the Sixteenth Street Bridge and the 31st Street Bridge.
And finally is the Ohio River with the West End Bridge, the Ohio Connecting Railroad Bridge, and the McKees Rocks Bridge.