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April 23, 2013

Joe Magarac and the Fountain at Point State Park

Riding my bike, enjoying a magnificent morning, very pleasantly surprised to see the fountain in "Pittsburgh's front yard" on a test run. As seen from the Carnegie Science Center, And as seen from near Station Square, They've done a wonderful job restoring the fountain, and a park ranger explained there's some technology for multicolor effects at night. Also cool that there's restrooms at the Point that will be open from 0700 to 2300, will which be much appreciated by the bicyclists coming in from DC.

But it didn't have to be this way. It might have been quite different.

Later in the day, I found myself at the Rivers of Steel museum at the Bost Building in Homestead, looking at a design proposal for the fountain at the Point developed by Frank Vittor for the 1951 design competition that would produce the fountain we know today.

The placard read,

As a part of Pittsburgh's Renaissance I urban renewal project, artists were asked to submit designs for a new fountain at Point State Park.

Noted sculptor Frank Vittor created this model for a proposed 100-foot tall stainless steel statue of local folk hero Joe Magarac pouring steel from two ladles into an ingot - a symbol for the joining of the Allegheny and the Monongahela Rivers to form the Ohio River.

Vittor made at least two plaster models; the other known piece is in the collections of the Senator John Heinz History Center in Pittsburgh. The winning fountain design, which did not open at the Point until 1974, is notably subdued compared with Vittor's elaborate vision.

That would have been very different indeed.


Joe said...

It would have been awesome.

Dave Williams said...

It would have been a one of a kind civic landmark and an acknowledgment of the industry that really put Pittsburgh on the map as well as a tribute to Pittsburgh's most prolific and talented sculptor.

In the interest of full disclosure, I am one of Frank Vittor's grandchildren.

The last time I cycled around the 'burgh was 1979. It is very gratifying to know that Pittsburgh has such a strong cycling community.

Best regards,

Dave Williams

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