Hill District tourism, one step at a time

Written by Diana Nelson Jones on .

A view from Cliffside Park, a hidden gem in the Hill

It was a great day to take a walk. I took mine in the Hill District with Terri Baltimore and Denys Candy of Find the Rivers! and Pitt students Aleia Lopez, Jose Diaz and Jun Park.

We did the easiest of three tours engineering students devised as a class project last year. It started at Bedford Avenue and Cassatt Street, went one block north to Cliff Street and then east up Cliff to Ledlie before turning back onto Bedford.

The easy, medium and hard walks are part of a strategic plan Find the Rivers! is working on with Hill District stakeholders. Rivers! is a non-profit community-building organization focusing on green spaces as a component of the Hill's economic recovery. The plan is to connect the parks and green areas already there to new ones to form a cohesive network. Find out more aboutFind the Roivers!, its partnerships and its history by visiting 

Rivers! has benefitted from the work of students in disciplines ranging from architecture to creative writing.

It will take years to turn the Hill into the kind of green place that mainstream folks call a destination, but to some of us, it already is that destination. With its unsung yet sweeping views and growing investment opportunities, it is ripe for discovery.

On a promontory overlooking the Strip and the North Side, Cliffside Park, a kid's playground, was obscured by weeds last year. Jun Park and Jose Diaz, grad students in sociology, led a clean-up crew last fall. They cut six-foot tall weeds and have maintained the lot since. Rivers! is interested in turning the formerly-weedy lot into a garden.

Denys Candy said much of the land the group is targeting is publicly owned.

"We're excited about this year," he said. "We just put out an RFP [request for proposals] for a comprehensive design of a green print."

The neighborhood will be part of the process, as it has been since Find the Rivers! began its foray into the Hill in 2002.

An ultimate goal is to uncover miles of streams that are now buried and confined to culverts.  Maybe one day it will be a destination that's good for the Hill. A colleague of mine said it will take a visionary with his fingers crossed to make that happen.

The visionaries are already here. And they have reinforcements.

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