I often brag to others how Pittsburgh is the greatest city in America because of our bridges, sports teams, education and world-class medicine. While it is important to recognize the feats of Pittsburgh today, we must also remember and preserve the Pittsburgh that once was.
One of my favorite playwrights is the late August Wilson, best known for his 10-play Pittsburgh Cycle, which emphasized the culture and struggles of African-Americans during the 20th century. Mr. Wilson was born and raised in the Hill District, which serves as the setting of nine plays, and he also briefly attended my alma mater, Central Catholic High School.
Mr. Wilson clearly demonstrates pride for his city by making references to specific landmarks such as Mercy Hospital, Wylie and Bedford avenues, West’s Funeral Home and Lutz’s Meat Market. Pittsburgh should show pride for August Wilson’s contributions to our city’s rich and diverse culture by paying homage to landmarks featured in his plays.
1839 Wylie Ave., although a fictional address, was the home of Aunt Ester, a significant recurring character. The location today is simply a grassy hillside with no indication of its past significance.
Mr. Wilson’s home on Bedford Avenue stands boarded up in disarray. A cultural center Downtown that bore his name could potentially become a hotel, certainly not the way our city should remember such a remarkable individual.
As Pittsburgh advances, we should take time to step back and remember our city’s past and the individuals who helped define it.
JOSEPH SAMUEL ROGERS