Magnolias in Pittsburgh: Walking Part 1

I took  “Walking Pittsburgh: The Ultimate Walking Tour of Downtown Pittsburgh,” a Publication of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on a cold December day.

I often slide into  jaded mode: living and working in a city rejecting being a tourist. Nope. I am going to get to know my new city even if I creep along doing it.

Magnolias in Pittsburgh in December

So I started off with a friend on a cold day in December on a walk in downtown Pittsburgh. The surprise: we discovered  magnolia trees with buds in the Theater District in the dead of winter. Turns out to be a sculpture. Fooled me.

Monongahela River

My walk, my narrative started at the middle of the walk because I was entranced and bedazzled by those magnolias. I was born in New York but the South runs ruby-red in my veins.

Going back to the beginning, the first part of the walk had us at Point State Park. I stood at The Point where the Three Rivers meet: the Ohio river forks into the Allegheny and Monongahela rivers in Pittsburgh.

I wondered how many African Americans stood there before me, before The Point became Point State Park in 1974. I imagine the long history of Pittsburgh going back to the French and Indian War (1754 to 1763) to the American Revolution (1775–1783). Some African Americans were indentured servants, others enslaved, and a few actually served in the military. I am sure some gazed at the Three Rivers just as I did. Instead of concrete, asphalt, and steel, they saw many more trees. I imagine an African American man in a buckskin coat and leggings with musket in hand sitting under a river birch.

We made it to the Strip District, the last leg of the walk. The sky was gray, the air grew colder. Regrettably, we turned back retracing our steps.

Next is the Cultural District, Grant Street, Mid-town, North Shore, and Market Square. I’m headed to Station Square this weekend.

I found a Visit Pittsburgh: African American History Guide. I’m thinking those walks will wait for the spring, after the winter thaw.

Photos by Dianne Glave