Pittsburgh's legendary Crawford Grill gets spot in Carnegie Science Center's Miniature Railroad & Village
With jazz legends like Ella Fitzgerald, Dizzy Gillespie and Duke Ellington performing there, the historic Crawford Grill in the Hill District gave musicians great credibility.
“If you were able to play at the Crawford Grill, you were good nationwide,” says Bob Tinkham, who is on the staff at the Carnegie Science Center's Miniature Railroad & Village.
A model of the original Crawford Grill, which opened in the 1930s, is making its debut as the latest addition to the railroad village, which will reopen Nov. 24 after seasonal updates and maintenance.
The model of the now-defunct legendary Pittsburgh nightspot — a jazz club owned by Gus Greenlee, an African-American businessman and a Negro League baseball owner — joins Ebenezer Baptist Church and the Pittsburgh Courier building as Hill District landmarks in the miniature display
“It was the center of jazz in the community ... for people for many, many years,” Tinkham says.
Railroad designers took out the Anderson's library building, representing a library connected to Andrew Carnegie. The piece, along with numerous others that have been swapped in and out, is in storage and not necessarily retired.
Patty Everly, the center's curator of historic exhibits, created the model of the Crawford Grill based on extensive research from studying old newspapers, and photos from the Charles “Teenie” Harris collection at the Carnegie Museum of Art.
The Grill was destroyed by a 1951 fire and re-opened at a location down the street, where it ran until 2003.
The model depicts the three-story brick business, and includes advertising art on the side wall for Red Rock Cola, along with a replica of the illuminated “Crawford Grill” sign at the front door. The building has a Plexiglas inner structure and took four months to make, Tinkham says.
The Miniature Railroad & Village re-opens to the public Nov. 24 at the Carnegie Science Center, North Shore. It is included with general admission of $18.95, $11.95 for ages 3 to 12. Details: 412-237-3400 or carnegiesciencecenter.org.
Kellie B. Gormly is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at email@example.com or 412-320-7824.