August Wilson’s great theatrical epic is made up of ten plays, each set in a different decade of the twentieth century, which together dramatize the comedy and tragedy, passions and aspirations of African-American history and culture.

All but one of the plays are imagined to take place in Mr. Wilson’s native Hill District, where he primarily lived until he was 33. This map identifies locations that are both fictitious and real.

This map is based on a map of the Hill District from 1923 that hangs in the August Wilson Room in the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh – Hill District Branch on Centre Ave.

August Wilson's Hill District Map



1.) Gem of the Ocean (1904)

Aunt Ester’s house, 1839 Wylie Avenue. The most important location in the Pittsburgh Cycle is a faded mansion from the nineteenth century. In Radio Golf, it is described as a “Federalist brick house with a good double-base foundation” with a staircase made of “Brazilian wood with a hand-carved balustrade.”


2.) Joe Turner’s Come and Gone (1911)

Seth and Bertha Holly’s boarding house, Webster Avenue. The play gives no address, but there are references to “up on Bedford” and “down on Wylie,” and Herald Loomis is seen “standing up there on the corner watching the house…right up there on Manilla Street.”


3.) Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (1927 – Chicago)

A recording studio in Chicago, Illinois. “Ma Rainey” was the first of the ten plays to go on Broadway, in 1984. Asked why it is the only play not set in Pittsburgh, Mr. Wilson said, “I was from Pittsburgh, so I thought I needed a more important city.”


4.) The Piano Lesson (1936)

Berniece and Charles Doaker’s house. The only clue to its location is that Berniece and Avery take young Maretha on a streetcar and drop her at the Irene Kaufmann Settlement House (now Hill House) on their way Downtown. So it must be somewhere east of there. When The Piano Lesson was filmed here for TV in 1994, Shadyside’s Alder Street stood in for the Hill of 1936. Among the many sites in the Hill District mentioned in the play is Diamond’s Five and Ten on Centre.


5.) Seven Guitars (1948)

Backyard of the house shared by Vera, Louise, Floyd, and Hedley, 1727 Bedford Avenue. This is where Mr. Wilson was born and lived with his family until just before his thirteenth birthday, where his mother and the neighbors would bring out chairs and a radio and play cards. Wilson’s childhood home is now on the National Register of Historic Places.


6.) Fences (1957 – 65)

Troy and Rose Maxson’s backyard, 1712 Bedford Avenue. There is no address in the play, but Troy Maxson is based partly on boxer Charlie Burley, who lived at 1712 Bedford. At another time, this house was also the residence of Wilson’s maternal grandmother.


7.) Two Trains Running (1969)

Memphis’ Diner, on Kirkpatrick between Wylie and Centre. The diner is based on memories of Eddie’s Diner at Wylie and Kirkpatrick, which is nearby, along with Lutz’ Meat Market (Centre and Elmore) and the West Funeral Home (moved from 2216 Centre to 2215 Wylie in 1970). Late in the play, the address given is 1621 Wylie, to honor Mr. Wilson’s mother, who lived her final years at 1621 Bedford.


8.) Jitney (1977)

Jitney station, southwest corner of Wylie and Erin. This is the site of one of the Hill’s largest jitney stations, and its actual phone number appears in the play.


9.) King Hedley II (1985)

Backyard of house shared by Ruby, King, and Tonya, 1621 Bedford Avenue. When Mr. Wilson was in Pittsburgh working on the 1999 premiere at the Pittsburgh Public Theater, he said the play was set in the backyard of his mother’s last home at 1621 Bedford.


10.) Radio Golf (1997)

Bedford Hills Redevelopment office, in a storefront on Centre Avenue, around the corner from Miss Harriet’s chicken joint. That would most likely be in the business district near Devilliers. Harmond Wilks has his real estate office at the corner of Centre and Herron, and he plans to put his mayoral campaign headquarters “in Reese’s old wallpaper and paint store up on the corner of Centre and Kirkpatrick.”


11.) Original Carnegie Library


12.) Original West Funeral Home


13.) Eddie’s Restaurant


14.) Irene Kaufmann Settlement House (Hill House)


15.) Freedom Corner