August Wilson Center for African American Culture
980 Liberty Ave.
Pittsburgh, PA 15222
As a memorial to the late August Wilson, the August Wilson Center for African American Culture opened in 2009 on Liberty Avenue downtown. Used as a cultural space for exhibits, plays and educational classes, the August Wilson Center features a full calender of events year round. Wilson was born in Pittsburgh, and the majority of his plays are set in Pittsburgh’s Hill District neighborhood. “Fences,” Wilson’s best-known play and a Pulitzer Prize winner, also won a Tony Award on Broadway. Visit this cultural landmark to get a full understanding of how growing up in the Hill District shaped Wilson and inspired his play writing.
Rachel Carson Homestead
613 Marion Ave.
Springdale, PA 15144
Located just a few miles north of Pittsburgh, Springdale, Pa., was the birthplace of Rachel Carson and, later, the inspiration for her life-long dedication to ecology and conservation. Her novel “Silent Spring” highlighted the dangerous path humans were on as the use of pesticides and biology-altering chemical agents became a more popular way of making farming easier. The Rachel Carson Homestead serves as a tribute to Carson’s childhood home in Springdale.
600 Forbes Ave.
Pittsburgh, PA 15282
John Grisham makes use of Duquesne University as an important plot setting in his novel, “The Associate.” This novel is the story of a recent law school graduate starting a career as a high-powered attorney. When his past indiscretions during his undergraduate days at Duquesne University come back to haunt him, the path the main character thought he was on changes. References to Pittsburgh abound throughout the novel, and Grisham has said he used Duquesne University as the setting for major plotlines in the novel because of how much he enjoyed the city.
Carnegie Mellon University
5000 Forbes Ave.
Pittsburgh, PA 15213
When Michael Chabon wrote “Wonder Boys,” he did not reference any specific Pittsburgh university as he depicted the life of a college professor with writer’s block and serious relationship issues. The novel is, however, littered with references to Pittsburgh locations only true ‘Burghers would know. The movie with Michael Douglas based on “Wonder Boys” is another story: CMU figures prominently into the movie plot. Read or re-read the book and then watch the movie. Details in the book are perfectly portrayed on screen at CMU. The studio wanted to outsource the movie to a different city, but producers knew how much Pittsburgh meant to the author and decided to use genuine Pittsburgh places to make Chabon’s characters come to life. See how many dorms, lecture halls and coffee shops in and around CMU you can pick out in the book and movie, and then head out for a tour of the campus.
4734 Butler St.
Pittsburgh, PA 5201
Stephen Foster is laid to rest with a modest grave marker at Allegheny Cemetery in Pittsburgh’s Lawrenceville neighborhood. Foster was not a writer of plays or novels, but his songwriting is now legendary. “Oh! Susanna,” “Camptown Races” and “Beautiful Dreamer” made him famous, and Pittsburgh, specifically Lawrenceville, has the distinction of being both his birthplace and final resting place. He is often credited by songwriters for being the first artist who tried to make a career out of songwriting. Though he never struck it rich, due to plagiarism by others and a lack of copywright enforcement in the 1800s, his songs continue to be a part of the American lexicon. Visit Allegheny Cemetery to pay tribute to this writer in his own right.