Posts tagged Point State Park.

The Golden Triangle at the junction of the Monongahela and the Allegheny Rivers in the heart of the city, 1936.

Point State Park fountain, Pittsburgh, 1974 (via

On This Day in Pittsburgh History: August 30, 1974 

After three decades of planning and construction, Point State Park is finally completed. [Historic Pittsburgh

The Golden Triangle, Pittsburgh, 1963 (via

On This Day in Pittsburgh History: June 14, 1962 

An $84 million rebuilding plan for the Golden Triangle is announced. [Historic Pittsburgh


Point State Park, Pittsburgh, PA

“Point State Park and many of the principal buildings in downtown, Pittsburgh. Dwarfed in the shadows of the trees, on the right, is the historically famous Block House; all that remains of the original Fort Pitt.”

On This Day in Pittsburgh History: November 23, 1753

Maj. George Washington, 21, emissary from Virginia’s Governor Robert Dinwiddie to the French commandant at Fort LeBoeuf on French Creek (now Waterford, Pa.), observed the land at the junction of the Allegheny and Monongahela rivers (where Pittsburgh is today) and described it as “extremely well situated for a Fort; as it has the absolute Command of both Rivers. The Land at the Point is 20 or 25 Feet above the common Surface of the Water; and a considerable Bottom of flat, well timbered Land all around it very convenient for Building.” [Historic Pittsburgh

Point State Park fountain, Pittsburgh, 1974 (via

On This Day in Pittsburgh History: August 30, 1974 

After three decades of planning and construction, Point Park is finally completed. [Historic Pittsburgh

On This Day in Pittsburgh History: August 9, 1915 

The new Manchester Bridge, connecting the Point with the North Side, was ready for traffic. [Historic Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh’s Three Rivers Arts Festival

Three Rivers Art Festival, images above via Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

The festival began as an outdoor art show hosted on the mall of the Carnegie Museum of Art, founded by the museum’s women’s committee, and moved in 1960 to Point State Park. On the fourth day, a storm damaged 50 paintings and sent 10 of them flying into the river, but the festival is a great success. 

Three Rivers Arts Festival Opens at Point State Park,” The Pittsburgh Press, 1960:

“The Three Rivers Arts Festival may well become the cultural pivot for the people of our great Ohio River Valley. The scope of this cultural program will be nurtured and vitalized through the participation of all of our people. The Three Rivers Arts Festival is dedicated to the conviction that to have a democratic culture, “Everyman” who has the inclination shall have the opportunity to define his culture through his participation.”

- Robert A. Boudreau, Director, American Wind Symphony - 1960 festival program
By its next year, the festival grows from 20,000 to 100,000 visitors. In letters to The Pittsburgh Press editor in 1962, one resident calls the festival a “waste of time” due to the increasing presence of abstract art, and another calls those who found the exhibits laughable “sore losers” whose works were not selected. 

Exhibit featuring Pittsburgh as its subject, with Gateway Center buildings as a backdrop, mid-1960s. John Heinz History Center, via University of Pittsburgh Digital Archives.

In 1965, local artists protest the selection of 17 artists chosen without jury process, saying the anonymous committee has set a “dangerous precedent” and risks making the festival more of a museum exhibit than a community event. Most festival events are rained out as it rains 9 out of 10 days.

Eugene McCarthy, former presidential candidate and Democratic senator from Minnesota, reads his own poetry at the Three Rivers Art festival in 1972.

Image via The Pittsburgh Press, 1977. The festival is largely criticized this year for a lack of quality (including the growing exhibition of photography) from its earlier years and a shift of focus from regional artists to artists unknown in Pittsburgh. Interestingly, many of those pieces are a part of the Pittsburgh landscape todayClement Meadmore’s “Up and Away” is still on display in PNC Bank Plaza; Kenneth Snelson’s “Forest Devil” now resides in Mellon Square; and “Pittsburgh” by John Henry is in Frank Curto Park on Bigelow Boulevard.

John Jay takes over as the festival’s executive director in 1979. That year, Joan Mondale (a ceramist and the vice president’s wife) and the nation’s mayors are in town for the festival, which ends with a disco party for 3,000 people. 

Jay is credited for the festival’s expansion, spreading the events to six sites with a budget of $250,000. Allen Ginsberg performs a poetry reading on opening day. Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 1981. 

In 1982, the festival expands from 10 to 17 days.

In this 1999 Post-Gazette timeline of the festival, Jay admits that he was traumatized by the publicity that followed his comment and his subsequent resignation, but he kept a stiff upper lip back in 1983, saying that he was just “a high-energy guy who needs change.” 

The Three Rivers Arts Festival creates controversy in 1990 with the display of “Hunky - Steel Worker,” a sculpture by Luis Jimenez. 

“The steelworker was big and buff, but that wasn’t the kind of hunky Jimenez was channeling,” the Post-Gazette reported after the artist’s death in 2006. “He [Jimenez] meant no offense, believing “hunky” was a term of admiration and respect used among steelworkers. Pittsburgh erupted. Press conferences were called, ethnic outrage was expressed, letters to the editor were written. Soon the word was ground off the base of the sculpture, saving the steelworker formerly known as Hunky from being floated down the river, a scenario predicted by a United Steel Workers’ union spokesman if the situation wasn’t resolved.”

The change is made and immediately met with protests“Steel Worker” is now on display at the University of Massachusetts campus in Boston.

In 2008, the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust assumed control of the festival, ending its 49-year partnership with the Carnegie Museum of Art. This is its 52nd year at Point State Park.


Three Rivers Arts Festival at Gateway Center, 1960s, via University of Pittsburgh Digital Archives.