Tag Archives: Rust Belt Bloggers

Neighborhood Walk #2: Public art

December 11 is the second Neighborhood Walk, organized by the Rust Belt Bloggers. This time we’re looking at Public Art.

Butler has a terrific new mural that covers the side of a building on the west side of town, right across from my parents’ company.

The mural was commissioned by the owner of the building on which it’s painted: Elizabeth Graham, who had seen a mural painted in Erie and decided to commission a neighborhood-focused work by the same artist.

The artist is Rabecca Signoriello, a native of the region. The mural depicts elements and individuals particular to the West End of Butler: baseball, steel working, Pullman car and automobile manufacturing, and local bridges and features.

Butler’s baseball stadium, Historic Pullman Park, has recently been redone, just across the street from this building. A summer collegiate baseball team, the Butler BlueSox, will begin playing there in 2009, and the Division 2 College World Series will also be held in Pullman Park.

But Butler’s baseball tradition is longer than you might imagine, and the mural captures this history. As a feature in the Butler Eagle explained:

Most prominent on the mural are baseball legends like Whitey Ford, who played for the New York Yankees’ minor-league affiliate at Pullman Park in the 1940s. Ford rented an apartment on third Avenue, which runs next to My Buddy’s.

Other Butler Yankees great Joe Dimaggio and Lou Gehrig are featured, as well (as) Major League Baseball Hall of Fame ummpire Elmer Massey, who also played for the Pittsburgh Crawfords in the Negro League. Josh Gibson and Buck Leonard of the Homestead Grays are featured, too.

Butler does not have a lot of public art, so this mural is particularly striking. It also makes a huge difference to this street: The area has a mix of industrial operations, small retail, and residences, and over time it has come to feel run-down. The mural, along with the shiny new ballpark and the removal of some less appealing business buildings and houses, helps the street feel more alive.

You might not get this from the picture I took, unfortunately. It’s a cold and rainy December afternoon, when not much in western Pennsylvania looks its best. But I think you can envision how much nicer the mural is than the old, blank building side used to be.

For more background on the mural, the artist, and the project, as well as some photos of the artist in action, you can check out this article in the Butler Eagle: "Mural depicts history of Butler’s West End," Ed Biller, September 5, 2008. (Paid subscription required)

Neighborhood Walk: Butler’s Institute Hill and Main Street

Wonderful neighborhoods

For background on the Neighborhood Walk, check out the Rust Belt Bloggers site. Find a list of others’ walks there too.

I took a walk through my neighborhood today. I timed it to coincide with the Veteran’s Day parade on Main Street, but I ended up taking photos of buildings and bridges instead of the parade. Still, that’s cool.

Looking at others’ walk photos, I realize that I took few pretty pictures and more photos of things that interest me for personal reasons. Again, not a bad thing.

See my pictures and accompanying descriptions in my Neighborhood Walk 2008 photo set on Flickr.

For another perspective on Butler, check out my brother Anthony’s walk (especially because his pictures are much better than mine at showing how pretty Butler can be). Uncle Crappy also took a nice photo of my street.

Thanks to everyone who participated in the Neighborhood Walk, and to those who spread the word about it on blogs, Twitters, Facebook, and other sites. Thanks to everyone at the Rust Belt Bloggers and PodCamp Pittsburgh 3 who came up with the concept and fleshed it out.

Let’s do it again next year, shall we? Let’s make it even bigger. And in the meantime, let’s keep reaching out to each other to understand what makes our communities unique, and what they share, so we can continue to make them grand.

(Photo credit: Wonderful neighborhoods, originally uploaded by cynthiacloskey.)

Rust Belt Bloggers Summit

Crusty Rusty Bolts
Crusty Rusty Bolts originally uploaded by mikeyexists

Friday evening and Saturday, bloggers from Pittsburgh, Erie, Youngstown, Cleveland, Buffalo, and other cities in this region will be meeting for the first Rust Belt Bloggers Summit.

Our primary goal — or at least, my view of our goal — is to meet and learn about each other and our common interests, with the hope of finding ways to work together. We share the desire to use social media to support and improve our communities; since the cities in the Rust Belt share history and characteristics, we should be able to find a lot in common.

City Paper previewed the event in an article today ("Bloggers to unite under common threads at conference"), with quotes from me and Doug Derda, as well as other thoughtful bloggers in other cities.

If you’re interested in attending, visit the Rust Belt Bloggers website to get details, and come join us. No registration needed; just show up.

Let’s shake off some of this rust, shall we?