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A bike / map geek with a gadget obsession and a high-viz fetish. by Vannevar Bush       about       /       murals       /       Pgh-DC bike maps new

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

90 Days till the Sandcastle Trail, Joe Magarac

1/15/13 34M 35F
34M on a very nice day.

Started at the Bastille with S. Rode the Ft. Duquesne Bridge, the Ft. Pitt Bridge to the SouthSide, and deviated into the neighborhood to catch up on some mural photos because we'd been told about a map of Shepard Fairey murals.

Stumbled across this at 1922 Carey Way quite unexpectedly:

And next door was this, 1924 Carey Way, by Ben Schneider who we've seen before. I especially like that they've painted the door panels to blend in with the cement block.

Then we photographed a mural S. had found recently, which sat among other "heart-themed" artwork in a backyard:

As we rode between these locations, we passed several of the spots on the map that once held a Shepard Fairey mural but they were no longer there. We did find one at 40 South 22nd Street, at Rugger's Pub:

We were surprised to see the graffiti tags, because generally those guys completely respect the work of other artists. It may be that they hold a view of Shepard Fairey's work not too disimilar from my own (oops!)

Same street, at the Ormby Rec Center's pool on South 22nd Street, was a wall with a beautiful mosaic:

And that concluded the initial mural portion of our ride. We got back on the trails at the Hot Metal Bridge and rode south to Keystone Metals, where we walked along the railroad tracks and observed the work in progress building the trail segment to complete the Great Allegheny Passage from the SouthSide-BaldwinBoroughTrail to the Waterfront-SteelValleyTrail.

Big things are happening down there. At Keystone Metals they're grading earth, installing drainage, building a big wall to separate the trail from the recycling yard - they're doing a lot of things and it looks like they're doing it all ship-shape.

On the Sandcastle side, I was surprised that they don't seem to be addressing the sinkhole. They have marked out the course of the trail, and they've uprooted all sorts of signs and posts that are in the way of the new trail; major work and a lot more to be done. I can certainly see why they waited until the SC season was over to start the work, there's no way they could do this project while the park was open for business.

Rode through the Waterfront, past Kennywood, to a point around Duquesne and then reversed. Stopped at Costco for a snack, met our friend L. by chance and had a nice conversation. Back on the bikes and I was reminded that it was, in fact, 35F outside.

North through Sandcastle, this time across the Hot Metal Bridge to Grant Street, then crosstown to 300 Sixth Avenue, in pursuit of a mural of Joe Magarac, Pittsburgh's mythic Croatian steelworker, our own version of Paul Bunyan, a larger-than-life steelworker. From Wikipedia,
Magarac first appeared in print in a 1931 Scribner's Magazine article by Owen Francis, who said he heard the story from immigrant steelworkers in Pittsburgh area steel mills. However, field research in the early 1950s failed to uncover any traces of an oral tradition about the character, meaning that Joe Magarac, like Big Steve, Febold Feboldson, and Paul Bunyan, probably belongs in the category of "fakelore," or stories told folk-tale style that did not actually spring from authentic folklore.

Since magarac means "donkey" (specifically, male donkey, or "jackass") in South Slavic languages, folklorists have speculated that Joe Magarac was originally a satirical character, if indeed he was not made up on the spot by Owen Francis's informants as a joke.

We found the mural, as promised, downtown. A line of people at the bus stop were interested in our picture-taking and said they'd never noticed the mural. I think this modern depiction, with Magarac in the background behind the gaudy GNC logoware, is probably a more accurate description of 2013 Pittsburgh than the original installation.

Back across town to the Ft. Duquesne Bridge, back to the Bastille, and 34 miles without casualty or incident, and an old friend met. Not a bad day.

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