Valentine’s Day used to be just one day but like so many real holidays, it can no longer be confined. So love is unavoidably in the air this week, along with Mardi Gras, for which people throw parties the Saturday before or the Thursday or Saturday after (when you’re supposed to be in sober and reflective lock-down).
It’s really just about fun for some people. The Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership got in on the action and asked Pittsburghers to share their love stories. They’re supposed to be relevant to Downtown, which should remove from contention a lot of people for whom Downtown signifies toiling away in an office on a 60 degree day, but we digress.
The top stories will be revealed tomorrow on the PDP’s blog and the winning story will be published on Valentine’s Day.
There’s an evening at the Fairmont Pittsburgh Hotel, a $100 gift certificate to the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust, a gift certificate to Meat and Potatoes and a special gift from Downtown Macy’s for the grand prize winner.
“We asked people to share with us their stories - they could be about falling in love with another person, falling in love with the city itself, or even falling in love with a meal, a building or a sports figure,” said Jeremy Waldrup, CEO and President of the PDP. “We received some great responses. Funny ones, touching ones but most of all stories that showed how essential Downtown Pittsburgh is to our region.”
The entries were judged by representatives from each of the retailers and restaurants providing prizes for the contest.
If we all don’t already know why Valentine’s Day has already started — the same reason every Christmas starts just after Halloween — here’s a clue: Spend more money.
“We also want to remind people that Downtown Pittsburgh is a wonderfully romantic place to spend Valentine’s Day. With nearly 180 restaurants, world-class hotels, first-rate jewelers, hand crafted chocolatiers and creative florists – you are covered!”
The PDP’s website has listings of Valentine’s Day events and specials here.
I could not have entered the contest, in part because I can't love a place where you can't find a restaurant open on a Sunday afternoon, where there are no food trucks or street vendors on weekends or much of anything else going on except in the Cultural District. But where there's love there must be patience... so I'll abide.
If you heart the ‘burgh, really really heart the ‘burgh, you won’t leap up and wave the Terrible Towel when you read that our fair city made Forbes Travel Guide’s top 10 most unexpectedly romantic cities. You will see “Pittsburgh” as you scroll down the list and smile beatifically because you knew it already.
Along with Austin, Washington, D.C. and Minneapolis in this country, we are in good company with Cinque Terre, Italy, Madrid, Brussels and Sydney.
This is clearly a list built of strong western bias. Not a single Asian or African city among them. And if you’re wondering, “What about Prague, Paris and Seville?” remember, this is a list of unexpectedly romantic cities.
We might expect the 'burgh to be on the list with Paris and Prague, but the rest of the world is still playing catch-up.
Here’s what the article reveals about us (and thank goodness there's no mention of french fries in sandwiches or anything sports-related):
“If you’ve never been to Pittsburgh, it’s probably the last city you’d think of as romantic; but what was once a steel town now shines. The numerous bridges—there are more than 440—add to the wonder of Pittsburgh’s skyline, and its abundance of nature really makes the city romantic. Walk through Point State Park, which sits where the Allegheny and Monongahela rivers meet to form the Ohio River, and you’ll see the softer side of Steel City, or take the Duquesne Incline up to the top of Mount Washington for a view from above.”
A community design workshop for people who are interested in seeing a vision for Fifth and Forbes in Oakland will be held Monday evening at 7p the Oakland Career Center, 294 Semple St.
This vision is based on a bus rapid transit plan that the Oakland Planning and Development Corp. has helped initiate. Meetings have been held since last summer.
Bicycle and pedestrian safety and accessibility, with links to strong transit options, is at the heart of this vision to make these corridors even more appealing than they are, and more useable for more people.
Find out more here.
Back in the day, Liberty Avenue Downtown flashed neon lights as stridently as a parade of police cars in a hurry somewhere. Today’s mien is more, shall we say, family friendly, but it strives for a level of sophistication worthy of a world-class city.
The Cultural District is one reason why the city is moving in that direction, and the Sprout Fund is behind the latest effort to bring a little more animation to the scene.
Today, the Historic Review Commission approved a proposed installation of public art on the side of the Bruno Building at 945 Liberty Ave. — a 21-by-23-foot design of interconnected geometric patterns by artists Jacob Ciocci and Matt Barton. Both are graduates of the masters of fine arts program at Carnegie Mellon University. Matt teaches at UC-Colorado Springs and Jacob splits his time between Braddock and New York City.
Their proposal was chosen from among 97 who answered the Sprout Fund’s call for artists, said Curt Gettman, program manager for Sprout’s public art program.
He said the materials budget is about $100,000, with a final budget to be determined.
“We’re excited about the project,” he said. “It’s a fun piece.”
In ensuing weeks and months, Sprout will give the public a chance to weigh in, especially business owners and residents who could feel the LED-light piece would have an impact on their lives.
“We are eager to talk to people about the design,” Curt said. “There is a lot of control that we can have,” including dimming of lights that he said are far less bright than neon. “We want to add character to the neighborhood while taking into account that people live there.”
The lights will face down Smithfield, at an angle that should have minimal residentail impact, he said.
The animated piece is designed to display four, 15-minute compositions each hour. It would be installed on the white backdrop of a faded advertisement from decades ago, when the building was used for numerous public advertising signs.
In giving its approval, the commission required that the display, which will use LED lights in compliance with the city’s brightness standards, would never be able to be adapted for use as a sign, slogn or logo.
Provided the proposal meets zoning requirements, it could be installed by summer.
In their artists’ statement, Jacob and Matt wrote: “Much of the inspiration for this piece comes from the presence of the three rivers in Pittsburgh. Providing the very foundation of Pittsburgh from Fort Pitt through the Industrial Era and into today, the rivers supply the livelihood and vitality for the city. Each and every day while the city bustles, the rivers flow. Their constant energy surrounds the downtown area and reflects the dynamism that is Pittsburgh. The separate bodies of water converge, intermingle, and literally become one. While the water flowing by the city on both sides is never actually the same, (with each moment renewed and reinventing itself), these rivers remain continuous. While the people and histories of Pittsburgh continue to grow and change, certain things stay the same.”
Photo image courtesy of The Sprout Fund