An ancient milky-white light bulb occupies a prominent place in the center of West View Floral Shoppe’s showroom. A sign says the the bulb once illuminated a beloved roller coaster called the Dips at West View Park, a half-mile away.

People once flocked to the amusement park that, over the years, was home to rides like the Loop-O-Plane, the Racing Whippet and the Wild Mouse. In 1964, the Rolling Stones played a concert at the park’s dance hall, Danceland. 

But then times changed and other parks such as Kennywood expanded. West View Park couldn’t keep up, so it closed in 1977. Three years later, fire destroyed the abandoned Dips. The light bulb in Beth Schellhaas’ flower shop is a way to keep its memory alive.

Times are changing — again. One example: The pandemic forced a shift away from in-store shopping and toward online purchasing. How can boroughs like West View keep their business districts, and the locally owned shops located there, from suffering the fate of West View Park? Officials in West View have a plan, and that plan got a boost Tuesday when U.S. Rep. Chris Deluzio, D-Aspinall, arrived to announce he’d secured $1 million in federal funds to help keep the borough’s business district vibrant and safe.

It was a ceremonial event. Deluzio and a handful of West View leaders gathered at the borough hall and held a brief news conference — complete with the passing of a giant million-dollar check — then took a tour of Perry Highway, where many of the borough’s businesses are located.

The town’s mayor, J.R. Henry, explained the borough’s ongoing Streetscape Project, a multiphase redevelopment effort to improve the business district for both business owners and residents. The plan involves improvements to sidewalks, new lighting, crosswalks to improve safety, street beautification and perhaps even moving West View’s fire hall and borough building to a new, more spacious location. Both are now located in buildings on Perry Highway. The fire hall lot is too small, however, and a shale hillside behind the borough offices worries officials.

“We hope that we don’t have any landslides,” Henry said. 

It’s too early to talk about the project’s completion date, he added. Much of that depends on funding. Deluzio’s announcement “was a good shot in the arm and will help propel us into designing a project and then bidding the project,” Henry said.

Two other elected officials — state Sen. Lindsey Williams, D-West View, and state Rep. Emily Kinkead, D-Brighton Heights — helped secure state funding.

During brief remarks at the borough building, Deluzio discussed the mix of activity that takes place daily on Perry Highway: children walking to and from an elementary school a flew blocks away, fire trucks exiting the fire hall, shoppers crossing the road.

“As we know, it sometimes gets complicated,” he said. “Traffic can build up on Perry Highway, fire trucks may not be able to dispatch as fast as they need to in a crisis, kids might have difficulty getting to school, crossing the streets. We need good strong infrastructure in business districts like this. … We’ve got to invest in these things, tangible things that can hold a community together.”

West View Floral has been a part of the community since 1976, when Schellhaas’ mother opened the business. Its interior is packed with flowers and baskets — and fragments of the town’s past. A painting of the old amusement park with a brass nameplate reading “West View Park 1906” hangs on a back wall. A metal brake and connector from one of the park’s roller coasters sits on the floor. And a trunk near the shop’s entrance contains old newspapers and a letter jacket from West View High School, which no longer exists.

Around 1:30 p.m. Tuesday, Deluzio popped into the place — he and Kinkead split briefly from the tour group to chat briefly with Schellhaas, whom they found sitting in the back of the shop and surrounded by flowers, vases and various colors of ribbon. A soap opera played quietly on a TV screen behind her. The three chatted about business — walk-in traffic has declined since the COVID-19 pandemic, Schellhaas said. Now, lots of people use the phone or order online. But she’s still pretty busy.

Once Deluzio and Kinkead departed, Schellhaas walked to the front of the store and looked out at the street. The day before, flags and veterans had filled Perry Highway during the annual Memorial Day parade. West View maintains the feel of a “little hometown,” Schellhaas said. She hopes it stays that way. She has a history here.

“My dad did the last revitalization in 1979, ’80,” she said. “We need a little refresher.”

Steve is a photojournalist and writer for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, but he is currently on strike and working as a Union Progress co-editor. Reach him at

Steve Mellon

Steve is a photojournalist and writer for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, but he is currently on strike and working as a Union Progress co-editor. Reach him at