So what are you doing on Tuesday evening?
The May meeting of the Allegheny West Civic Council (Tuesday, May 9th at 7:30 pm, in the Calvary Church) is packed with exciting new developments for our community — including FIVE new proposals for businesses and residences on Western Avenue!
There is great serendipity in the timing of these new developments for the center of our neighborhood — coming as they do exactly 55 years (to the month) after the founding of the Allegheny West Civic Council in May 1962. All five of these new plans come to our May Membership meeting with a positive endorsement from the AW Housing & Planning Committee. They include the dramatic transformation of a former problem bar, the rehabilitation of a property neglected for decades and our first new construction of single family houses in more than a quarter century. And those new houses will rise from currently vacant lots, in an attempt to replicate the appearance of the original houses on that site — demolished more than forty years ago!
This flurry of great new vitality for our neighborhood would undoubtedly have been beyond dreaming to the dozen long-ago residents who gathered on May 24, 1962 in the Community House of Calvary Church. Their goal was to find a way to shape and direct the fate of their tiny community, faced with grand plans by powerful outsiders for transforming all of the “lower Northside” into a cloned suburban utopia. The plan that was formed that night in 1962 was recorded as a single sentence: “Don’t sit back and complain — joint collective action gets results.”
Across the many years since that proclamation, those folks — and the hundreds who have succeeded them — have taken that mantra to heart. The people of Allegheny West have worked long and hard together to determine what we want for our part of Pittsburgh, as well as what we don’t want. We have articulated that vision to others persuasively, ceaselessly laboring to attract new companions who would embrace the challenge and become part of its realization. We have aggressively (and successfully) supported those new recruits in their efforts, even as we have aggressively (and successfully) opposed those whose efforts were contrary to our cause.
It is true that Allegheny West has a reputation for being tough. That attitude was born in 1955, when a handful of our predecessors resolved to protect and forge their own community in the face of overwhelming odds. That couldn’t happen without a willingness to take a responsible position and then stand your ground. Even more fundamental was their core belief that this neighborhood already is a great place to live and work and play. And for those who would diminish or jeopardize this place, they learned how to say “NO” — to government officials, institutions, developers, speculators and all manner of interlopers. The fruits of this unwavering conviction, and the courage to defend it, could not be more clearly visible than in these new development proposals being unveiled at our May 2017 Membership meeting this Tuesday.
Why would we spend endless energy and dollars fighting the abuses of a problem bar? The answer is on Tuesday night’s agenda. Why would we buy and hold vacant land for forty years, rejecting proposals for gravel parking lots and storage yards? The answer is on Tuesday night’s agenda. Why would we spend many millions of dollars and many years of volunteer lives saving and restoring derelict and burned-out buildings, again and again? Well you get the idea…
Please join us on Tuesday May 9 at 7:30. It isn’t often that you get to witness a victory 55 years in the making.
Dr. Dan Strinkoski has been nominated as Allegheny West’s Neighbor of the Year for his tireless efforts in cleaning up the neighborhood!
He will be honored at the Northside Leadership Conference’s annual Neighbor of the Year Banquet in June. Details to come.
Congratulations Dr. Dan!
The Neighborhood History section of alleghenywest.org has expanded!
As part of the 55th Anniversary of our little corner of Pittsburgh, we have been curating an informative resource on our website that aims to paint a picture of life here over the years. We have more historic home information (23 and counting thanks to the tireless efforts of Jim Wallace in collecting Carol Peterson histories), details on the formation of Allegheny West as a civic council and neighborhood concept and interviews with our friends and neighbors, both long-standing and new to the area.
→ Take a look ←, tell us what you think and, if you’ve not already done so, share your materials with us! House histories, old photos, etc can be dropped off at the council office at 806 Western Avenue or you can make arrangements for pick up by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
We’re still seeking neighbors to help house-sit, run supplies or help with food for this year’s Wine & Garden Tour. The tour will be held Friday, June 2nd, from 5:00–9:00 pm and Saturday, June 3rd, from 1:00–5:00 pm and 5:00–9:00 pm. Contact Carol Gomrick at email@example.com if you are able to help.
This month’s neighborhood cleanup will take place on May 20th at 9:00 am. Meet at the AWCC office at 806 Western Avenue. This event is BYOB – bring your own broom, that is! (And gardening gloves, too!)
Contact Trish Burton with any questions: firstname.lastname@example.org or (412) 523-9402. We’ll see you on the 20th!
Submitted by Carole Malakoff
The Allegheny West Local Review Committee, along with The Allegheny West Civic Council, announce the 9th Annual Allegheny West Preservation Award. This award is presented to property owners in the Allegheny West Historic District who have completed projects over the past year which retain and restore appropriate elements of historic character and adhere to the neighborhood HRC Guidelines. Success was achieved by doing research, creating well thought-out plans, following neighborhood guidelines, and working with the neighborhood LRC and City HRC to seek advice.
The 2017 Awards Recipients
909 Western Avenue
Owner: Sally Graubarth
This was an extensive restoration of both the interior and exterior, as well as the carriage house. Sally and her architect, John Francona, worked with the LRC and the HRC to make this project an example of the highest quality of historic restoration.
The exterior work included: a new storefront and door consistent with that of the original; new entrance doors to 2nd floor living space with transom and trim; new front wood, double-hung windows including circle-top windows on the 3rd floor; new stable style carriage house doors; restoration of the carriage house dormers; cleaning and painting the brick and stone on the façade.
This project is a great addition to the Western Avenue streetface. It adds to the historic ambience of the street, contributes to the economic development of our neighborhood, and serves as an example of how restoration should be done.
To celebrate Preservation Month, the award will be presented at the May Civic Council Meeting on Tuesday, May 9th at Calvary Church, corner Beech and Allegheny Avenues. Everyone is invited to come and meet Sally.
So what are you doing on Tuesday evening?
Your neighbors will be gathering at 7:30 to find out what’s going on. They’ll also be making decisions about your neighborhood, and the larger community around us…decisions that affect you.
And – oh by the way – they’ll be having a good time: socializing and chatting and being, well, just neighborly! (And free refreshments help.)
You’re always welcome. It’s the second Tuesday of each month at 7:30 pm, in the Calvary Church social hall, on the corner of Beech and Allegheny (use the Beech Avenue entrance). The meeting’s usually over by 9:00 pm.
Don’t know most of your neighbors yet? All the more reason! Hope to see you Tuesday evening.
In April of 1962, the residents and business people of our community – not yet called “Allegheny West” – were surrounded on every side by an uncertain future. That a few of them were considering banding together for the general good was very bold indeed.
The “powers that be” in the city, county and state were basking in the glow of international media – hailed for “The Great Pittsburgh Renaissance”. The first of its kind in America, this unprecedented vision was even then transforming an industrial slum at the Point into a new state park and the gleaming silver office towers of Gateway Center. At the Melody Tent site in the Lower Hill District, a “residential slum” was giving way to a new entertainment acropolis – anchored by the newly opened Civic Arena, and soon to add concert halls and museums.
A new phrase had been coined right here: “Urban Renewal”. And already announced were the next two planned blockbusters: the extreme makeover of the East Liberty shopping district and the complete demolition and replacement of the former City of Allegheny town center. In each of these projects, hundreds of substantial buildings would be demolished to make room for an entire new city – formed in the image and likeness of the American suburb.
This new city rising on the Northside wasn’t limited to the former center of Allegheny. There were several big satellite projects that would extend this grand vision across all of the lower Northside. This new “suburb in the city” would have its very own interstate highway slicing east to west. The neighborhoods of Chateau on the west and Deutschtown to the east, along with the length of the Allegheny Commons park, would provide the highway’s route and right-of-way.
The neighborhood north of the Allegheny Commons park would be leveled and replaced with a vast complex of garden apartments. An immense public housing development would level and replace much of the Manchester neighborhood. And the land immediately to the west of the park would be divided between an industrial park along the highway and a county college campus.
Citywide, there were thousands of businesses and residents being displaced by eminent domain takings of entire neighborhoods. And nationwide the broadest public sentiment was enormously supportive of this concept. If the Smoky City could do it, anything was possible.
“Out with the old, in with the new.” And Pittsburgh was finally at the forefront of an important new urban movement.
But buried deep in those Master Planning blueprints were a handful of tiny streets. And on those streets, a few ordinary people had started looking for a way to be heard.
April 22nd is Earth Day, and Allegheny West will celebrate by holding its first clean-up day.
Meet at the Allegheny West office at 806 Western Avenue for coffee and breakfast treats and to gather some trash bags and gloves. If you have your own gloves, brooms, and tools, please bring them! Begin to look for areas in the neighborhood that need to be freshened after the winter. We’ll also have a group that will attack the leaves in the parklet at the corner of Brighton and Western.
Contact Trish Burton with any questions: email@example.com or (412) 523-9402. We’ll see you on the 22nd!