Tag: beauty

Pittsburgh’s Beauty off the Beaten Path: Shady Liberty Pedestrian Bridge

Shady Liberty, pedestrian bridge designed by Sheila Klein
Nadine Champsi

Nadine Champsi

I am a doctor turned write-at-home-mom who runs the Pittsburgh Mommy Blog and is editor of Kidsburgh. I have two wonderful young children and am happily married. My interests include cooking, green-living, gardening, being in the outdoors, listening to great music, checking out the city's cool art, coming up with creative things to do with my kids, and having as many adventures as I can!
Nadine Champsi

In my Pittsburgh’s Beauty off the Beaten Path series I describe a particularly beautiful, but underappreciated, spot in the city. I hope these posts will give you inspiration for future adventures and will remind you that Pittsburgh, for all its industrial buildings and soot-covered past, is a city bursting with beauty.  The rest of the series is located here.

Pittsburgh has a lot of nicknames: The ‘Burgh, Steel City, Sixburgh. My favorite one is probably the City of Bridges.  I’m so proud to be from the city with the most bridges in the WORLD.  I’m even more proud to be from a city where we treasure our bridges so much that we yarn-bomb them!  That’s right!  From August 12th to September 6th the thousands of hours of grueling labor involved in the Knit the Bridge project will come to fruition and the Andy Warhol Bridge will be covered in knitting! I trust it will be a truly magnificent sight.

Shady Liberty, pedestrian bridge designed by Sheila Klein
Shady Liberty, pedestrian bridge designed by Sheila Klein

In honor of the beautification of this well-loved city bridge, I thought I’d focus my Beauty off the Beaten Path series on another Pittsburgh bridge:  Shady Liberty.  It’s newer and less well-known than the Andy Warhol Bridge, but it was born to be a functional piece of public art.  And I’m so happy I discovered it earlier this summer with my family!

We found it during a walk through East Liberty and Shadyside after eating in Penn Circle.  We were wandering around the upper level of the Eastside shopping complex (the retail development that includes Whole Foods) when we heard the sound of a passing train near the Busway below.  As we went closer to the railing to get a better look, we came upon a pedestrian bridge that links the Eastside shopping complex in East Liberty to Ellsworth Avenue in Shadyside.  Since I don’t live in this area and rarely walk around it, I never even knew it was there! Although it was small in size, this Pittsburgh bridge was BIG in personality!

It is called Shady Liberty and it was designed by Sheila Klein and opened in 2012.  Its basic structural elements are quite modest:  a simple concrete walkway with a surrounding chain link fence and posts. And yet, the designer was inspired to turn these functional parts into pieces of public art:

Painted lines
Painted lines
  • The concrete walkway is painted with random, overlapping yellow and white stripes that appear to be street lines (they are actually modeled on a Liberty Avenue parking lot where street-line painters test their equipment).  However, unlike traditional street lines, they lack any perceivable order.  Careful scrutiny reveals that this unexpected absence of pattern is exactly what makes the walkway so beautiful.  I like to believe the design reflects something really cool:  the unique path of each individual pedestrian (as opposed to the more predictable driving pattern of an automobile).  In that way, I believe the walkway’s artistic design promotes walking vs. driving as a responsible (and fun!) mode of transportation.
Handmade glass sequins
Handmade glass sequins
  • The chain link fence follows the path, protecting pedestrians from falling into the busway and railroad tracks below it.  However, the chain link fence, too, is beautified.  At the top, it is ornamented with large handmade glass sequins that were created at The Pittsburgh Glass Center. They reflect the sun’s glittering light—bringing the sky closer to the bridge and the people on it. The fence also has a gently curving design, leaving room for surrounding greenery.
  • Finally, the metal fence poles provide structural support to the fence and anchor the handrail. However, they also curve over the top of the walkway to support suspended glass orbs that light the bridge at night.  Although I haven’t had the pleasure of being on this bridge after dark, I believe these lights would reflect stunningly in the glass sequins–mimicking the the stars and the moon in the night’s sky.
Crossing Shady Liberty
Crossing Shady Liberty

Shady Liberty was beautiful to traverse AND it was fun for my kids!  They enjoyed following the lines AND peering over the edge at the passing trains.  I enjoyed relaxing on a bench that faces the bridge on the Eastside portion.  I spent some time observing the passerbys.  I was amazed at how many different sorts of people actually utilized the bridge:  elderly people, students, families with children, young professionals, even lucky (probably childless) couples grasping bottles of wine and takeout!

While pondering the Shady Liberty Bridge that day, I started thinking about Pittsburgh and its unique geography. Our broad rivers, though beautiful, could be considered a major challenge, with the potential to seriously divide our city.  And yet, we have built bridges-the Andy Warhol Bridge, the David McCullough Bridge, the Liberty Bridge and so, many, many more–to cross our rivers and bring together our neighborhoods, our people, and our resources.  What an incredible testament to the unity of our city!

Watching the train go by below
Watching the train go by below

The Shady Liberty bridge, though diminutive in size, has a similar and equally commendable purpose.  It brings together the very different communities of Shadyside and East Liberty to share in the continuing efforts to economically revitalize the East Liberty area.  Thank you Sheila Klein and the East Liberty Development, Inc for your impressive vision!

Pittsburgh’s Beauty off the Beaten Path: An Introduction

Nadine Champsi

Nadine Champsi

I am a doctor turned write-at-home-mom who runs the Pittsburgh Mommy Blog and is editor of Kidsburgh. I have two wonderful young children and am happily married. My interests include cooking, green-living, gardening, being in the outdoors, listening to great music, checking out the city's cool art, coming up with creative things to do with my kids, and having as many adventures as I can!
Nadine Champsi

During the end of my years at Boston University, I developed an unusual habit for any college student. I started waking up close to dawn and taking a 1-2 hour walk.  I never started out with a path in mind.  Instead, I just allowed my natural curiousity to take me on a different journey each morning. And what did I find on those abandoned streets, all alone, on those crisp, quiet mornings?  I found beauty.  I found it everywhere.  I found it hiding on the banks of the Duck Pond in the Public Gardens where silent, serene men and women did early morning Tai-Chi.

I found it buried near the Fens, in the dew-covered Urban Gardens teeming with flowers and veggies.

And I found it appear, for just a moment, in the Christian Science Center’s Reflecting Pool awash with morning’s first light.

These discoveries quenched my thirst for adventure…and made me feel happy.  I became like my idol, Amelie, uncovering the quirky secrets of a bustling metropolis!  And when I left Boston, these images were what I ended up missing. They made the city feel like home to me.

Since I’ve moved to Pittsburgh and had children, I have tried to continue taking these types of walks. Only now I take my kids along and allow them to dictate my path!  I have found that children are particularly suited to this style of nomadic wandering.  They rebel against agenda.  They naturally run the other way if you set them on a definite trajectory.  For children it is the unknown path–the closed door, the mysterious gate, the almost-buried pathway–that is so intrinsically interesting.  And the unusual discoveries made along the way are the life’s-blood of a good outing for kids.   So..if it’s safe and we don’t have too much to do, I generally let my little ones take me on an adventure.  After all, I learned in Boston that beauty can be found in some very unusual places.

Because I have so much fun exploring Pittsburgh with my children in this way, I am starting a series on my blog entitled Pittsburgh’s Beauty off the Beaten Path.  When my children lead me to a particularly beautiful, but underappreciated, spot, I will write about it.  My goal in these posts is not to dissuade you from having your own adventures or making your own discoveries.  God no!  My goal instead is to give you some inspiration and to remind you that Pittsburgh, for all its industrial buildings and soot-covered past, is a city of astounding beauty.  Please join us in our adventures!

Coming tomorrow…our discovery of the Courtyard at the University of Pittsburgh’s Frick Fine Arts Building.

My New Personal Indulgence–Trader Joe’s Tea Tree Tingle Hair Products

Nadine Champsi

Nadine Champsi

I am a doctor turned write-at-home-mom who runs the Pittsburgh Mommy Blog and is editor of Kidsburgh. I have two wonderful young children and am happily married. My interests include cooking, green-living, gardening, being in the outdoors, listening to great music, checking out the city's cool art, coming up with creative things to do with my kids, and having as many adventures as I can!
Nadine Champsi

Something seems to have gone drastically wrong during the meiosis that gave rise to my genetic material.  I’m convinced that a little piece of my X chromosome rebelliously broke itself off and floated away into the interstitial fluid–never to be heard from again.  This DNA must have coded for so-called “feminine” behaviors, such as putting on makeup, experimenting with new hairstyles, caring about fashion, and collecting expensive beauty products.  I have spent most of my life feeling vaguely deficient in my femininity because I just couldn’t give a crap about these things.

I DO, however, have one beauty product weakness:  tea tree shampoos and conditioners.  I have been known to spend obscene amounts of money obtaining salon-grade tea tree products.  My personal favorite is Paul Mitchell’s Special Tea Tree Shampoo–a pricey, but oh-so-worth-it product that combines the essential oils of peppermint, lavender, and tea tree to create an unforgettable herbal showering experience.

Despite the hefty price tag, I always feel perfectly justified in buying these products.  After all, using a Tea Tree hair product is more than a simple lather and a rinse.  It is a heavenly experience that always gets my morning off on the right foot.  Tea tree shampoos (usually combined with related fragrances such as rosemary, mint, eucalyptus, etc) fill your nostrils and your entire bathroom with a refreshing aroma reminscent of invigorating early morning walks in a pine forest.  And, your hair feels incredibly clean and actually tingles when you use it!  Plus, tea tree oil has been noted to have some medicinal properties that some believe is very nourishing for the scalp.  And I have been told by a hairdresser or two that it is very versatile and can be used with nearly all hair types on a daily basis.  Anyway, I totally love the stuff and go to great lengths to obtain it.

That is–until I recently noticed that I don’t have to go very far to get it at all…in fact, Trader Joe’s actually has their own brand called Tea Tree Tingle Shampoo and Conditioner that I have been obliviously walking by for years (for the very reasonable price of $3.99–I might add)!  I was thrilled, but skeptical.  After all, it must be $3.99 for a reason–right?  Wrong.  I have been using it for about a month now and I love it.  The fragrance is different than Paul Mitchell’s product.  In fact, it is far more complex–combining tea tree with peppermint, eucalyptus, rosemary, nettle, thyme, birch leaf, chamomile, lavender, and a few other odd ones.  And (although I’m clearly no hairdresser) I think it may even be healthier for the hair–since it doesn’t contain any laurel or laureth sulfates and uses only certified organic botanicals.  Most importantly, my scalp still tingles, my hair feels clean and soft, and I can spend my morning shower imagining I’m lightheartedly scampering through a virgin evergreen forest.

%d bloggers like this: