Pittsburgh's Outdoor Murals and Public Art, discovered on bicycle around the Burgh bike


Oh, What a View! by David Hawbaker Frances Roman Hawbaker

4061 Perrysville Avenue (Perrysville Avenue and Vinceton St)
Observatory Hill, Pittsburgh PA 15212

Sprout Fund map      SproutFund.org

When artists Fran Hawbaker and Dave Hawbaker designed this mural the first thing they wanted to show was the amazing view from this high vantage point. Observatory Hill is named for the Allegheny Observatory. This astronomical research facility has been located in Riverview Park since 1912, when it was moved here to capitalize on that same high vantage point. The observatory and Riverview Park have both played large roles in the identity of this neighborhood.

Fran Hawbaker had lived in this neighborhood for a while when she was growing up and remembered riding bikes to Riverview Park. The park is one of the largest municipal parks in the area, but at that time there wasn’t a very nice playground available there. Today the 287 acre park offers trails, picnic shelters, and a great playground, so they wanted to highlight that as well.

In addition to Observatory Hill, this neighborhood is also known as Perry North. The mural is located along Perry Highway, and both were named for Admiral Oliver Hazard Perry. Originally this mural had been planned for a location a few blocks away and the owner of that building had wanted Admiral Perry included in the design. When there was a problem using that building for the mural, Dave Hawbaker literally knocked on doors in the area until he found a new location. The owner of this building agreed to let them use the wall and left the design of the artwork up to the artists. They decided to keep Admiral Perry and he eventually became known locally as the Big, Blue Elvis.

Admiral Perry, rowboat of sailors, Allegheny Observatory.

Admiral Perry stands at the top of the hill with the great view of the city of Pittsburgh in the distance. Above him you find a neighborhood girl enjoying the monkey bars in Riverview Park. In the background is the observatory and a thriving local community. When you look closely, you see people riding their bikes to the park and shopping in the business district.

Another well known feature in the area is located along Perrysville Ave. There’s a stretch above Riverview Park with a row of mansions that were built in the 1800’s. This block became known as Judge’s Row because so many city judges lived there. Fran and Dave Hawbaker included just a couple of those homes on the right side, where they show a family sitting on the front lawn.

Grandparents, girl and dog sitting on front lawn.

The Hawbakers pointed out that the landscape is not a collage, but it’s a contrived landscape where things are placed artistically rather than accurately. By using that technique they were able to include all of the things that make this neighborhood unique and special. There’s a lot of detail in this mural. From a distance or when you’re driving by it manages to portrait the essence of the neighborhood, but when you stop to really look at it you find a lot more.


TAGS Mural, Oh, What a View!, Observatory Hill, Admiral Perry, family, monkey bars, biking, walking, tulips, dog, neighborhood, vista, ball, David Hawbaker, Frances Roman Hawbaker, Sprout Fund,


We strive for accuracy. If you can offer any updates or corrections, please email pghmurals@gmail.com



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