By John A. Nau
Welcome to RANDYLAND, a place nestled in the depths of the residential North Shore of Pittsburgh in the midst of the famed Mexican War Streets. The North Shore? I know it as the North Side and to most Pittsburghers what else could it be. After all, Three Rivers Stadium once stood here and its memory shimmers in pure glory.
To describe RandyLand requires a great many pictures for you to even begin to comprehend what has been created here. How do you paint color with words? That is the question. This place, the brainchild of Randy Gilson, has been called the most colorful house in the country and I see why. The place screams out a rainbow of yellow, reds, greens, blues and every possible hue in the spectrum radiates over all the bricks and wood that comprise the structure. The entire multi level building looked to be left over from an era when the neighborhood store provided the needs of the people. Everything about it including the surrounding grounds have evolved into a massive work of art with statues, eclectic chairs and tables, buckets and mounds of sand with plastic rats skittering through and over it. The gargoyles and flowers stand watch, there are proud brooding lions, posters tact to the walls that highlight upcoming events and a tiny display case in the shape of the house where one can pick up a small poem to lighten one’s day. Yes, the entire location stands as a monument of artistry to its creator and helps promote the works of others.
I gather that a great many writers have passed through this location penning impressions for many newspapers and magazines from across the country and the world. I came as well, and by some stroke of luck I bumped into the owner and creator, Randy Gilson.
Randy, a son of Pittsburgh has built his home here amidst his life’s work. I introduced myself and explained my reason for being there. He couldn’t have been happier and he began explaining to me in rapid manner what RandyLand means. I did my best to keep up with the swirling flurry of images and ideas. He explained to me that on a good day some 200 people will pass through the premises. There can be no doubting the pride that Randy radiates when discussing his creation.
The place has taken on a life of its own. You begin to feel this as you see the names of the affiliates that are listed on the outside wall. The wall also outlines the history of the North Side as it evolved from Allegheny City to the North Shore. It happened to be dumb luck my bumping into Randy this day. However, everyone can see the man and creator out front as there stands a life size cutout of Randy that will welcome you when he cannot.
There are a great many things to see within the City of Pittsburgh, but there are few places as refreshing and upbeat as RandyLand. Randy explained this as the most important point. RandyLand remains synonymous with positivity, open mindedness, happiness and kindness. Once you see this place you can do nothing else but agree.
RandyLand began in 1985 and if you haven’t seen it yet then come as it’s a part of this city. It belongs to Pittsburgh.
RandyLand is located at 1501 Arch Street, Pittsburgh, PA 15212