Field Trips + Mobile Workshops

Cluster Workshop participants will have a chance to explore Pittsburgh during the conference. A set of five concurrent field trips will be offered on the afternoon of Thursday, June. 11. You’ll choose just one! Here’s where the trips are headed:

Tour 1: The Power of Arts to Drive Economic Growth (Cultural District and Envision Downtown)

Hosted by the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust and the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership

The Pittsburgh Cultural District has seen one of Pittsburgh’s most historic transformations: turning a seedy red-light district into a magnet destination for arts lovers, residents, visitors, and business owners. The District is one of the country’s largest land masses “curated” by a single nonprofit arts organization, the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust. A major catalytic force in the city, The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust is a unique model of how public-private partnerships can reinvent a city with authenticity, innovation and creativity. Using the arts as an economic catalyst, we now have a world-renowned Cultural District that is revitalizing the city, improving the regional economy and enhancing Pittsburgh’s quality of life. Thanks to the support of foundations, corporations, government agencies and thousands of private citizens, the Cultural District stands as a national model of urban redevelopment through the arts. Over a period of 25 years, the Trust has restored historic theaters, constructed new performance venues, commissioned public art projects and developed unique urban parks and riverfront recreation spaces. Mayor Peduto’s goal is to build upon the success of the Cultural District and invest in the Golden Triangle of downtown by making the largest contiguous complete streets grid in North America.

Tour 2: Eco-Innovation and Equity (Uptown and Hill District)

Hosted by the City of Pittsburgh Department of City Planning and its many Uptown Partners
This tour is capped at 46 participants. Bus transportation to Uptown and the Hill District will be provided.

The Uptown neighborhood of Pittsburgh presents unique conditions that serve to simultaneously inspire and frustrate those who see its true potential. While strategically located between the economically vibrant Downtown and Oakland areas and across the river from the thriving South Side, the neighborhood has seen levels of disinvestment and deterioration that are not befitting such a well-connected neighborhood. The population has dwindled to just over 800 residents (excluding institutional residents, which bring the total to over 4,000). The resulting empty lots and buildings have created severe losses in property values. The commensurate reduction in street activity has further fostered a perception of an unsafe environment. Many properties have moved through tax delinquency, abandonment, acquisition, and consolidation. In many cases, under-utilization of land has created a situation where the most profitable land use is surface parking. Uptown’s future is in its hands. Trust is being built, and people are working together to build a new future together. The abandonment and demolition of the last several decades cannot be undone — the vacant lots must now be seen as an opportunity to build a new Uptown that is sustainable, economically viable, and ecologically sensitive — a competitive model for 21st Century urban development.

Tour 3: Catalyzing a Thriving Food Economy (Strip District)

Hosted by the Urban Redevelopment Authority and Councilwoman Gross.

The Strip District is a one-half square mile area northeast of downtown Pittsburgh and the food and produce heart of the city, best known for its retail produce and ethnic food stores, restaurants and coffee shops. “The Strip.” as it is familiarly known, is just that — a narrow strip of land in a flood plain confined by natural boundaries: the Allegheny River to the north and the extension of Grant’s Hill to the south. In the early 20th century the produce station was located in a small triangular building at 21st Street near Smallman Street and this intersection became the hub of the wholesale produce business in Pittsburgh. From the turn of the century through the 1920s, industrial buildings, shops, and homes along Smallman between 16th and 21st streets were demolished for the construction of produce warehouses and offices. Auction houses and large wholesalers lined up along Smallman; smaller dealers set up shops on Penn Avenue in existing retail buildings. In the 1950s there were 71 wholesale produce dealers in the Strip District. By the 1970s there were about two dozen dealers left in the produce terminal. Remaining dealers began to expand their businesses by opening retail stores on Penn Avenue and Smallman Street. Today the Produce Terminal building remains largely vacant and is a major redevelopment site for the City of Pittsburgh as efforts for adaptive reuse are considered.

Tour 4: Building Opportunity after Urban Renewal (East Liberty)

Hosted by ELDI staff, Mosites Construction, Walnut Capital, the Beauty Shoppe and other partners
This tour is capped at 58 participants. Bus transportation to East Liberty will be provided.

The rise and fall of East Liberty is a familiar story in Pittsburgh. A thriving commercial center in the 1940’s and 1950’s, Pittsburgh’s “Second Downtown” declined rapidly in the 1960’s after an ambitious urban renewal program. At one time East Liberty was the third largest business district in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania boasting six movie houses, a department store, a roller skating arena and hundreds of thriving retail businesses. The ill fated urban renewal project was an attempt to suburbanize East Liberty destroying the tightly-knit urban fabric to make way or large, one story retail buildings, huge parking lots and wide access roads. Entire blocks of houses and commercial properties were raised, the core of the business district was converted to a pedestrian mall and over 1400 government subsidized rental units were created minimizing the long tradition of home ownership in East Liberty. In the late 1990s, new leaders in East Liberty brought a sense of urgency to tackling old problems. They recognized that overcoming fragmentation and division by developing an aligned neighborhood had to be a top priority. Through a community-driven process, stakeholders developed A Vision for East Liberty. The plan highlighted community initiatives that represented the beginning of local investment and success, which became the building blocks for change. East Liberty was determined to reposition itself as a successful, self-sustaining community once again and has seen major successes in the recent decade.

Tour 5: Transformation of Pittsburgh’s Riverfronts (Allegheny, Monongahela and Ohio Rivers)

On the three rivers, aboard the RiverQuest boat and guided by Riverlife staff
This tour is capped at 35 participants. 

The reputation of Pittsburgh to those who have not visited is a city with a past mired in soot and smoke. Polluted rivers lined with mills. An urban landscape ravaged by industry, “hell with the lid off.” Fast-forward to the present, and you’ll find a different Pittsburgh. A surprising Pittsburgh that looks and feels nothing like what you’ve heard. A breathtaking city of rivers, bridges and hills, those industrial black clouds long gone. A city of character and innovation moving forward and reclaiming its natural assets. Though the transformation hasn’t happened overnight, there have been huge leaps forward as the Pittsburgh community has united to forge a plan for a new chapter in the city’s history. In 1999 a group of Pittsburgh community leaders, business owners, environmentalists and urban planners saw the need to develop a master plan for Pittsburgh’s most valuable asset: its rivers and their miles of shorelines. Since then more than 80% of the 13-mile Three Rivers Park loop has been established and improved for public use. Key projects comprising the next phase of the Park are under construction as a part of our current capital improvement projects, and Riverlife has a plan in place to complete the remainder of the Park over the next ten years.

Pittsburgh (various) - All trips leave from Heinz History Center

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