When I was visiting home about six weeks back, I heard a bit of townie news that might be the most exciting in years: DreamWorks Studios will be setting up shop in Vandergrift, PA, to film "I Am Number Four."
Aside from being right next to my hometown of Leechburg, PA, Vandergrift also has the distinction of being designed by landscape architect Frederick Olmstead, the very same one who designed the Emerald Necklace in Boston and Central Park in NYC.
From the Vandergrift Public Library:
"Founded in 1895, Vandergrift was the first successful planned industrial town designed to be sold to its workers. George McMurtry, president of the Apollo Iron & Steel Co., Apollo, Pa., needed to expand his successful galvanized steel operations. Beset with labor problems and unable to acquire additional land, he selected a 650-acre farm site a few miles downstream on the Kiskiminetas River, some forty miles from Pittsburgh.
He than approached the designer of the 1893 Chicago World's Fair, Frederick Law Olmsted, to design a town that would be "something better than the best." The result was Vandergrift, (named for Capt. J.J. Vandergrift, a director of the steel company) a town with gently curving streets that follow the natural slope of the hills. Everything was made ready in advance...In 1895, this was a unique idea in America--that a company would build a town entirely in advance and then turn over its control to the workers.
The spirit of Frederick Law Olmsted, the famed landscape designer who worked in partnership with nature, is evident in Vandergrift's natural layout--in its curved, tree-lined streets, in its parklets, and in its wide mall leading from the old railroad station to the historic Casino town hall."
For a local who knows how hard hit the area has been by the downsizing and closing of steel mills, I find an even better aspect of the filming to be that the crew will be revitalizing the town's main street (and leaving everything behind after filming is complete) while pumping money into the local economy (may I recommend an excellent restaurant?)
"I Am Four" will be based on a novel written by James Frey ("A Million Little Pieces") about nine alien teens who come to Earth after their planet is destroyed by an enemy species. I can't wait until the movie hits theaters in 2011 (and I might even read the book beforehand)!
Swelled with PA Pride,