So what are you doing on Tuesday evening?
You could join (and meet!) your neighbors for a brief gathering, enjoy some light refreshments, learn what’s going on in your community and help steer us on the path forward.
On the second Tuesday of each month, you have the opportunity to learn what’s happening AND to have your voice heard about what we can all be doing to make life here in Allegheny West better in every way. We’re at Calvary Church, on the corner of Beech and Allegheny, at 7:30 pm — use the Beech Avenue entrance. Hope to see you this Tuesday!
On March 31 of 1962, Jane and Ross Johnson sent a letter to a few other property owners in the area of the Northside that we now call Allegheny West. Jane had been born right here in the neighborhood, only a short time after it had ceased to be the City of Allegheny.
She and Ross lived at 934 Western Avenue, and also operated Allegheny Real Estate, on the next block. They were raising their children here, and in the decades to come would sell houses to some of our community’s early pioneer “newcomers”.
Jane especially was able to see this area not for what it was, or even for what it had once been, but for what it could become. She had a talent for imparting that vision to others — including this writer when he bought his first house from her in 1977. She would ultimately remain active in the Allegheny West Civic Council — frequently as a member of the Executive Committee — well into the late 1980s.
When Jane passed away only a few years ago, she had lived to see her neighborhood far surpass anything that she could have imagined. From the perspective of the 21st Century, it was easy to understand that she and all of those who followed had succeeded most in attracting new believers — decade after decade — who would then take up the torch and forge ahead.
But in March of 1962, Jane and Ross wrote to their neighbors:
The lower Northside in the immediate years ahead will undergo a major transformation. But what impact will these major improvements have on our particular area…?
The Lincoln-Beech-West Park section of the Northside has some unusual, if not unique, characteristics. There is its proximity to downtown; its orientation to West Park — the spacious and attractive section of the Commons. Here are some of the best residential structures built in a previous era…many of real period and architectural character.
However, Lincoln-Beech is now a 75-year-old community with some structures that are not just old, but have been neglected and abused and can be regarded as substandard. Regrettably, we have developed a reputation as being a second-rate neighborhood, perhaps a reputation we in part deserve.
Can anything be done to effect a general improvement?
Our purpose in sending this informal letter to about a half-dozen property owners is to ascertain if they would favor that we make an organized effort to improve the area and, if so, would join us and add their signatures to send a similar statement and invitation to a larger representative group pointing toward an organization meeting.
Jane and Ross mailed their letter, and waited to see if anybody would respond to the call.
Submitted by Karen Beer
In August 2016, Allegheny West welcomed a new yoga studio — Northside Yoga — at 845 Western Avenue. Owners Lyndsey Fullen and Katie Mogilski, both Northside residents, noticed the lack of yoga studios in the neighborhood. They wanted neighbors to be able to practice yoga without having to cross the bridge into Downtown. With help from Diane Mercer of the Northside Community Development Fund, they found a beautiful old building on Western Avenue, the former site of the Used Textbook Warehouse.
Lyndsey and Katie’s mission is to provide fitness-based yoga classes for all levels to the Northside and neighboring area residents. The classes at Northside Yoga include personal attention and aim to empower practitioners to lead happy, healthy, inspired lives. Additionally, Northside Yoga strives to enhance the surrounding community by offering regular karma classes and other events that benefit a Northside area charity.
Every Sunday at 2:00 pm, Northside Yoga offers a “Karma” Class. The class is donation-based, pay what you can, and all proceeds benefit a local non-profit. So far, Lyndsey and Katie have been able to donate to the Humane Society, Light of Life and City of Asylum. Until April, this class benefits the Northside Food Pantry. They recommend securing a spot online in advance, as the class has been filling up!
For more information and class schedules, please visit northsideyogapgh.com, or follow on Facebook and Instagram (@northsideyogapgh).
Remember, if you’re a local business owner and you’d like to tell your business’s story, please send information about your business, its mission, how long you’ve been in Allegheny West, why you chose the neighborhood and any important events or future plans you’d like your neighbors to know about. When space allows, one business per month can be featured in the Gazette. It’s a great way for the neighbors to connect to and support local businesses – and it’s publicity for you. Email information to Karen at firstname.lastname@example.org. Can’t wait to hear from you!
The DIY Network is calling all homeowners with homes built before 1950. If you have a renovation project in the works, our professional team can help make it happen. We’re searching in the greater Pittsburgh area for couples and families that would like to complete a home renovation project before May or June 2017. Homeowners should already have the possible project mainly financed on their own. DIY Network will bring in experts to help with planning, work and budget. Please email your names, ages, contact info, a brief description of your project and photos of your home’s exterior, interior project and a recent family photo to email@example.com. Interested applicants should respond ASAP.
It’s Spanish wines and tapas for this year’s Wine Tour
The dates of the tour will be Friday, June 2nd and Saturday, June 3rd. We are finalizing the list of houses and will announce them soon. There will be properties never before featured on the Wine & Garden Tour. We are looking for volunteers, as well as sponsors. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org if you’re able to help in either capacity.
The Young Preservationists Association (YPA) will host Saving Sacred Places: A Preservation Summit on Thursday, March 23rd from 6:00-8:00 pm at The Priory (614 Pressley Street). Representatives from Partners for Sacred Places of Philadelphia, The Steeples Project of Johnstown, Preservation Pittsburgh, and more will be on hand to discuss and brainstorm solutions for abandoned and neglected churches. Suggested donation: $5 at the door.
For more information, visit youngpreservationists.org.
So what are you doing on Tuesday evening?
What could be more romantic than…we’ll all be enjoying a special treat – sweet and delicious – for all of those who brave the weather (and the wrath of significant others?) to join us on Tuesday February 14th at 7:30 pm at Calvary Church. Use the Beech Avenue entrance.
Bring your sweetheart, come as a single, or in a group. No reservations, no premium pricing and no check to pay. We hope that you’ll join your neighbors for a SWEET meeting!
As we celebrate the Civic Council’s 55th Anniversary this year in May, we’re looking back at how this neighborhood now called “Allegheny West” came to be – not in the 1860s and 70s, but in the 1960s and 70s and right up to today.
In February of 1962, the people who lived and worked in our community would have proudly called themselves “Northsiders”. To their east was the West Park, the downtown of the former Allegheny City called The Diamond, and beyond that Cedar Avenue marking the entrance to Deutschtown. To their west across Allegheny Avenue was Manchester, and beyond that the communities of Chateau and Woods Run. Everything else around us was “The Northside.”
Many of these people had been born here. But many more had arrived as part of the influx of workers that had begun during the Great Depression, accelerated during World War II and exploded in the housing shortages of the 1940s and 50s. It was that rapid population growth that had converted block after block of grand old residences – both rowhouses and mansions – into apartment buildings and rooming houses. The dense population made for lively streets, bustling parks, and thriving business districts.
But change was in the air.
In smoke-filled meeting rooms downtown, plans were being made to “fix” the Northside. Old buildings, narrow streets, and average people didn’t look enough like the bright airy suburban utopia that had now enthralled America. Pittsburgh was pioneering a new concept for cities: Urban Renewal. The idea was introduced to the world in the late 1940s as Gateway Center and Point Park bulldozed their way into existence.
By 1958, the North Side, Hill District and East Liberty were on the drawing boards. For the land north of the Allegheny River, a superhighway would slice east to west – utilizing the former Allegheny Commons park as an already-owned right of way for most of the journey. The highway and its ramps would obliterate the 80 acres of park – plus Deutschtown, Chateau, Woods Run and much of Manchester. The downtown of old Allegheny City would be leveled – more than 300 large buildings – to construct an enclosed shopping mall, office and apartment towers, and brand new townhouse communities.
The neighborhood to the west of the old park would become a highway interchange, supporting a college campus and an industrial park.
The demolitions had already begun here in earnest.
The 900 block of North Lincoln solved a nascent prostitution problem by taking down most of the buildings on the block. The first big warehouse distribution structure sprouted at the corner of Lincoln and Galveston – awaiting its promised highway connections. The 800 block of Brighton Road was cleared by the Italian Sons & Daughters of America to construct a National Headquarters with good sightlines to the interstate. Allegheny County created a “take zone” to acquire and level all of Ridge Avenue’s Millionaires Row in favor of a soon-to-be-built college.
And so it was that in the early months of 1962, the people of yet-to-be-named “Allegheny West” began to discuss a novel idea.
Perhaps it was time to control their own destiny.
The Allegheny West Gazette would like to bring back the Local Business Spotlight, a feature to tell stories of our local businesses. If you’d like to be included, please let us know. Whether you’ve been operating in the neighborhood for years or are just getting off the ground, we want to hear your story. Send information about your business, its mission, how long you’ve been in Allegheny West, why you chose the neighborhood and any important events or future plans you’d like your neighbors to know about. When space allows, one business per month can be featured in the Gazette. It’s a great way for the neighbors to connect to and support local businesses – and it’s publicity for you. Email information to Karen at email@example.com. Can’t wait to hear from you!
Come out to the newly remodeled Giorgio’s on Friday, February 17th at 6:30 pm to mix and mingle with your neighbors. Bring your own bottle!
Also, bowling at the Elks is in full swing! Please come down to Allegheny Elks Lodge #339 on Cedar Avenue for a casual night of bowling starting at 7:30 pm. Don’t forget that downstairs will be the Banjo “practice” session, playing until 10:00 pm. See you there!