Pittsburgh, if you didn’t know, is a triangle. Well, DOWNTOWN Pittsburgh is anyway. This was very confusing to a young man from the country trying to navigate from The Boulevard of The Allies back to his North Side apartment in 2002. I would get lost constantly, never being able to shake the notion that the streets were a grid. I would soon learn that this is Pittsburgh, the streets are not a fucking grid, most of them are one way and many of them aren’t for cars anyway.
A few years after moving to the city, I retrieved my car. I would spend hours and hours just driving aimlessly with friends, singing Reel Big Fish and Dispatch at the top of our lungs, and slowly, slowly learning my way around the city. Like a slime mold working it’s way across a map of the United States, I learned my way through the confusing tangle of one way streets and quasi alleys that Downtown Pittsburgh had to offer. Unsurprisingly, I found myself on Mount Washington a time or two. Specifically, Grandview.
Grandview is aptly named scenery porn. From high atop Mt Washington, you can see the entirety of Downtown Pittsburgh and much of the North Shore. The Pittsburgh skyline is an amazing thing to behold, but to see it from that perspective is another animal entirely. Seeing the city, which I had been getting lost in consistently at that point, all spread out in front of my like the most beautiful lego set in the world, was breathtaking. I sat and stared, feeling the low hum the city produced, watching cars streak across the bridges and skirt along the edges of the river, peering at the impossibly tall buildings full of glittering lights, it was a revelatory experience. It still is.
One of my favorite memories about Grandview was going up around 10 at night with my friend Jay. We found a bench with a nice view and just smoked and talked all night long. We watched the sun set and eventually rise as we talked about our lives and our futures with all the city of Pittsburgh dancing in front of us. I will never forget that night. There was another time when, after a shoot or a party or who knows what, I was up with my longtime collaborator and friend Mike Sorg. I gestured to the beautiful city and said “ Sorg, someday all this will be ours” or something similar and full of bravado. Years later, Sorg told me he remembered that night and he was inspired. That meant a lot to me. I love that my words, combined with the incredible view, inspired one of the hardest working people I know.
I’ll miss Grandview. I’ll miss going up and sitting and watching the world turn in front of me. I’ll miss watching things slow as the night grows deeper and the people retreat to their homes, only to return to breathe life into the city again. I’ll miss the hum of the city, the rumble that comes from cars and trucks and people, all living their lives in unison. I’ll miss listening to Pittsburgh breathe and there is no better place to do that than from Mount Washington.