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.