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TheGerbil

Crazy ideas

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Let's think of some ideas that would be great for the city, even if they aren't really feasible.

Mine: Close East Carson St. to traffic from Hot Metal St. all the way down to Station Square. Then run a trolley down the center of it (which would run 24 hrs a day). I know that wouldn't really work but it sure would be cool!

What's your crazy idea?

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I am sure to add on more later, but the first thing on my mind is the North Side.

I would tear down all of Allegheny Center and rebuild the street grid, and much of the buildings that were there (Especially the market house). The Children's museum and library would of course stay.

It would also be great if all of the multilane highways on the North Side were underground, freeing up space for more development.

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Let's think of some ideas that would be great for the city, even if they aren't really feasible.

Mine: Close East Carson St. to traffic from Hot Metal St. all the way down to Station Square. Then run a trolley down the center of it (which would run 24 hrs a day). I know that wouldn't really work but it sure would be cool!

What's your crazy idea?

I think Buffalo's failed Main Street project would be a good example of why not to do this. They closed off the traditional thoroughfare downtown and ran a LRT through it... and watched the corridor die.

E. Liberty's business district also died when cars were denied access... though there was no trolley element to that.

The crushing automobile traffic is a problem... and it would be nice to be free of cars... but without car access... I think E. Carson would wither. I just think it would be best to have a LRT extension from Station Square along that rail right-of-way on the southern end of the Flats. This way the merchants on E. Carson wouldn't be denied customers... and hopefully the traffic would be eased by people using the LRT.

View of auto traffic on Carson

57470438.100_4950.jpg

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I am sure to add on more later, but the first thing on my mind is the North Side.

I would tear down all of Allegheny Center and rebuild the street grid, and much of the buildings that were there (Especially the market house). The Children's museum and library would of course stay.

It would also be great if all of the multilane highways on the North Side were underground, freeing up space for more development.

Yes... people can make whatever arguments they want about inadequate transportation infrastructure... but it just seems bizarre that we would shred our own city so that suburbanites can get to Wexford quicker. This photo gives a good perspective of how this clusterf$(k of highways has damaged the historic North Side

57470426.100_4930.jpg

This was once a dense, cohesive neighborhood. The heart was ripped out... nearby properties that weren't razed fell into ruin.

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One of the things I would love to see as well, would be for Allegheny Ctr to go and for an incredible office complex to go there. In this fantasy of mine, downtown's available office space has gone down considerably and the little buildings on the North Shore ain't gonna cut it - Allegheny Ctr is a waste of space and wow wouldn't a few towers look incredible there. In this dream much of the wasted space would be transformed as well so it wouldn't be just a few tall towers my themselves, there would be a mix others (smaller and including ap/condo towers). If planned well, the Northside would be a great place in the city and still maintain its historic areas.

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One of the things I would love to see as well, would be for Allegheny Ctr to go and for an incredible office complex to go there. In this fantasy of mine, downtown's available office space has gone down considerably and the little buildings on the North Shore ain't gonna cut it - Allegheny Ctr is a waste of space and wow wouldn't a few towers look incredible there. In this dream much of the wasted space would be transformed as well so it wouldn't be just a few tall towers my themselves, there would be a mix others (smaller and including ap/condo towers). If planned well, the Northside would be a great place in the city and still maintain its historic areas.

It would be great but it seems that each and every time office buildings are proposed on the North Side, groups come out of the woodwork to oppose them. I remember back in the 80's (when the tax code encouraged the development of new buildings - hence Rennaissance II), there were proposals for new towers on the North Shore. I believe several were to be 30-40 floors. Then came a torrent of resistance and the would-be developers redesigned the buildings to lower them to 10-15 floors. Then the tax code changed and the 1990-91 recession set in and nothing was heard ever since.

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I think Buffalo's failed Main Street project would be a good example of why not to do this. They closed off the traditional thoroughfare downtown and ran a LRT through it... and watched the corridor die.

E. Liberty's business district also died when cars were denied access... though there was no trolley element to that.

The crushing automobile traffic is a problem... and it would be nice to be free of cars... but without car access... I think E. Carson would wither. I just think it would be best to have a LRT extension from Station Square along that rail right-of-way on the southern end of the Flats. This way the merchants on E. Carson wouldn't be denied customers... and hopefully the traffic would be eased by people using the LRT.

Yeah, that is why I said it wouldn't really work. Cars have to be able to get access. But it was such a beautiful mental image I had, of Carson not clogged up by cars... Sigh.

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I'd rather see high-rises confined to the triangle... the classic Golden Triangle view might be tarnished... and I would rather keep the North Side at the intimate human scale it has today (sans that Allegheny Center abomination)

The downtown office market isn't healthy enough for this type of thing to happen in the near future anyways.

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1) Build 2nd Ave LRT line

2) Burry 5th and Forbes Aves bus traffic underground in Uptown and Downtown and vent with state of the art soot scrubbers and tall chimneys. Change more busses to biodiesel and hybrid. Add electrical pickups to hybrids and LRT-ready supply lines inside the tunnels.

3) Visitor's center on Mt Washington. Also add a Coffetree, Blockbuster's, and a new state-of the art library. While I'm at it, I want to see a landmark bridge connecting Grandview Ave to Bigbee St so I can go jogging to Grandview Park without losing the nice view. From Grandview and Republic, build a pedestrian park/health trail down the hillside that will connect with the future West End Bridge pedestrian crossing.

4) Expand Kirkpatrick St. into an urban boulevard from the Birmingham Bridge all the way to Bedford Ave.

That's all that I have from the top of my head right now.

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Good call on a Mt. Washington visitor centre. The Duquesne Incline already serves a partial role... but is more focused on the incline itself... it would be nice if there was a visitor centre to tell tourists everything about Pittsburgh.

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Actually The Gerbil's idea of closing off carson reminded me of an idea I had when I lived in Mt. Washington and went back and forth between there and Oakland a lot. Keep in mind also that I went to europe a while back and lots of major cities there have these historic plazas closed off to traffic. Also my plan would require tons of emminent domain and probably be really expensive.

The Plan:

1) Close off all of Carson from Birmingham Bridge to 10th Street Bridge, turning it into a nice plaza area with Plants, Fountains, Small Vending Carts, etc running down the middle, I like Gerible's T idea so we'll add that in too, I'd say extend the T from Station Square to say Southside Works, beyond that i don't see a point, it would go above ground on both the pedestrian area and the remaining street. I would make it so that the streets perpendicular to Carson 11th to 22nd would be blocked off till the next street parallel to Carson on either side to avoid confusion. Alternately the perpendicular streets could be allowed to run through and Carson would consist of multiple mini-plazas.

2) Remove the buildings in front of the Birmingham Bridge and extend a street through that area up to Jane street. Alternately though after looking at the map the ramp off of the bridge could be bent over a bit to dump right out onto the intersection of 23rd St. and Carson and then 23rd St. could be widened all the way up to where Jane Street is.

3) Extend McArdle Roadway from where it dumps off onto 10th Street to where NEW Birmingham/23rd St meet Jane, I'd make this street about as wide as Carson gets at Southside Works This means some major ED between 12th and 17th

4) Widen 10th Street, and Widen Carson from 10th Street to Smithfield Bridge.

5) I also like blue black cat's idea about widening Kirkpatrick and making it useful so we'll do that too.

6) Finally, the only problem I can forsee is parking so a few strategically built parking garages would need built, but then again they already need them down there as is in my opinion.

So tell me what you all think.

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Ouch. The magic of the South Side Flats comes from its narrow streets tightly packed with rowhouses. The pedestrian is given preference over the automobile in this environment. Blasting a P.J. McArdle through would damage the neighborhood. The South Side isn't just a business district, but a neighborhood as well. The last thing the South Side needs is ED.

Narrow streets (incl. Carson) slow down traffic which results in a safer pedestrian environment. Many people complain about the slow moving traffic on Carson... this is a result of its vibrancy. It's a good thing that traffic moves so slowly so that the heavy pedestrian traffic can travely safely.

I also disagree that the South Side needs parking structures. Carson St. is often packed with vehicles... but I've never had a problem finding parking on a side street.

And finally, I think it's important that the main business district, Carson, be open to vehicular traffic.

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Here's my suggestion for PGH:

-Create a heavy-rail subway system for PGH and it's surrounding suburbs like Penn Hills, McKeesport, Monroeville, Ross Park, and Ben Avon and include service from downtown to the Airport in 15 minutes and three-track express service on some of the proposed lines similar to NYC.

It includes two downtown subway two track loops with the first loop on Liberty Ave, Grant St and Blvd of the Allies. This loop would have the South Hills trolley on the upper level and the heavy rail system on the lower level. The other loop would be the same and feature and heavy rail but be diverted to 6th Ave and into Centre Ave subway to points west. Both loops would have stops on every street in Downtown.

The mosaics for each station would be in the Art Deco fashion and be more elaborate than NYC with pictures for each station, telling either a story of the city, a landmark, or a physical connotation of the street (ex. Gateway Center would feature Fort Pitt and the Blockhouse and a station in Pitt would feature the Catedral of Learning), but the rest of the stations would have the same modern aestethics from the floor to the ceiling.

-A commuter rail system serving SW PA (Johnstown, Butler, Kittitaning, Beaver Falls, Washingto, Uniontown, etc.), in addition to wheeling, Morgantown, and even to Youngstown, OH.

-More flights to Europe and Asia.

-A vibrant Puerto Rican and Dominican community in parts of Bloomfield, Highland Park, and Frendship.

-A Caribbean community (Jamaicans and Haitians) in East Liberty and Homewood so I can find a place to eat Jamaican food in PGH.

-A couple of new towers to fill the PGH skyline.

-And, finally, to make PGH a gamma world-class city in reality

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These are some fantastic insights!

The only thing I would add is more of an emphasis on the riverbanks and the beautification of additional downtown streets (trees etc.) by PRIVATE funds. Also an emphasis on some very unique highrises on the Northshore and filling in the "uptown gap" between Duquesne Univ. and Pitt with high rises and condos, in essence stretching downtown to include all the way to CMU.

Oh and one more thing, to use the regions assets most efficiently and for the good of the metro, CONSOLIDATE already. ;)

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I'd rather see high-rises confined to the triangle... the classic Golden Triangle view might be tarnished... and I would rather keep the North Side at the intimate human scale it has today (sans that Allegheny Center abomination)

The downtown office market isn't healthy enough for this type of thing to happen in the near future anyways.

No the market isn't ready yet, but in terms of future growth, this is where it should be (here and Uptown). Pittsburgh's skyline will logically grow and there is very little room downtown. I think that a tasteful and carfully planned complex where Allegheny Ctr sits (and adjacent) would be perfect. Mostly office, but residential towers as well.

Oakland has a low vacancy rate though and it seems that there should be some space made available to foster faster growth. For one, South Oakland should be largely gutted and built up new.

The Southside ain't broke, please don't fix it! Yes it's crowded and that is a good thing!

The only thing I would do is encourage the organic growth and fixing up of the old homes as well as new homes (where possible). I would try to improve the area between 10th St and Station Square as it has incredible potential and add (when appropriate) residential midrise towers east of Southside Works.

Uptown should be (Isle of Capri or not) create an Uptown Center plaza with a nice size hotel, office tower or 2 and residential tower or 2 in the space currently occupied by the arena (whatever fits nicely) and in the vast parking lot behind it, residential buildings at an appropriate scale.

Whether or not a new arena goes in Uptown or not, the parking lots south of Washington Plaza should be part of a new Uptown skyline. Feeding off of the Duquesne development, the Duquesne addition to former arena site should be a dense Uptwon district. The several blocks from Mercy to the Birmingham bridge could be an incredible urban neighborhood with residential towers (mixed in with maybe some office and retail) all along in the space between fifth and forbes. The other blocks as well, but there is nothing but blight there and its wasted space.

Of course, I don't mean that this can happen now, but in my mind, this should be part of a long range plan as growth allows (in some cases the demand for residential is there, just not the product).

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There's an Uptown in Pittsburgh??? :blink::blink::blink:

Uptown refers to the Bluff... or traditionally "SoHo"... it's an area south of the Hill District between downtown and West Oakland.

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^^the bluff is just the start of it from downtown near Duquesne University, the rest as Evergrey said is basically a loose term to describe the void between the downtown 'scrapers and the ones in Oakland.

Outside of the NYcentric media term "uptown" here is not the posh place MadAve would have the "west of the Hudson" crowd believe it's defined by. I love how all these stars think the world begins and ends either in NY or LA. Pittsburgh has its own definitions too (based on geography).

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Many cities actually have an Uptown and/or a Midtown that is not a cluster of skyscrapers, but a smaller district that is some how defined and varied by cities.

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Oakland has a low vacancy rate though and it seems that there should be some space made available to foster faster growth. For one, South Oakland should be largely gutted and built up new.

Yes. South Oakland is a nightmare. The streets are layed out like someone's large intestine, and most of the housing is in crappy shape. I would like to see everything below Bates Street totally bulldozed and rebuilt, with a proper street grid and some quality buildings that mix residential and office/retail.

There may be a few little gems that should be left standing, but for the most part there is nothing in South Oakland that I think is worth saving.

And I regularly get lost there if I deviate from my normal route at all. :P

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Outside of the NYcentric media term "uptown" here is not the posh place MadAve would have the "west of the Hudson" crowd believe it's defined by. I love how all these stars think the world begins and ends either in NY or LA. Pittsburgh has its own definitions too (based on geography).

Yes, that's annoying. Of coruse the only reason the Hollywood crowd says the world begins and ends either in "NY *or LA*" is because they live in LA. Ask most New Yorkers and they think the world begins and ends in NY. "LA? What's LA????".

I personally cringe whenever I hear terms like "Downtown", "Uptown", or "Midtown" used anywhere outside of NY, however. Why? Because I believe the original use of those terms came from NY where they actually make geographic sense (Downtown being south, Uptown being north, and Midtown being in the middle). In fact, NY doesn't even have an "Uptown" per se. Rather it just has a Downtown and Midtown and people say "uptown" as a way of saying "north of here" (e.g., "going uptown?").

Anyway, I always sense that when some city other than NY uses terms like "Uptown", "Downtown", and "Midtown" it is out of some attempt to copy NY. This is borne out by the fact that almsot no city outside of North America uses such terms and also by the fact that cities older than NY have their own terms (e.g., "Center City Philadelphia").

In Pittsburgh, I guess the terms do make some geogrphic sense since uptown is on high ground than downtown. However, I imagine the genesis of these terms when sued in Pgh is because of an attempt to emulate NY. Further, technically speaking there isn't a Downtown, Midtown, or Uptown in Pgh. Rather, Downtown is officially the "CBD" (Central Business District), Midtown is technically the Lower and Middle Hill, and Uptown is technically the Upper Hill. Thus use of terms like Downtown, Midtown, and Uptown seem to directly derive from NY-emulation.

Anyway, does anyone know where the derivation of the "Soho" name for the neighborhood now known as the Upper Hill comes from? I imagine that this is actually derived from Soho in London which SoHo in NY is also really named after - the whole "SOuth of HOuston" thing was an afterthought. That said, msot NYers assume every Soho (or SoHo) around the world (such as the one in Hong Kong) is named after their SoHo, including the one in London itself.

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Yes. South Oakland is a nightmare. The streets are layed out like someone's large intestine, and most of the housing is in crappy shape. I would like to see everything below Bates Street totally bulldozed and rebuilt, with a proper street grid and some quality buildings that mix residential and office/retail.

There may be a few little gems that should be left standing, but for the most part there is nothing in South Oakland that I think is worth saving.

And I regularly get lost there if I deviate from my normal route at all. :P

I think Oakland, in general, could use a large shot of proper urban planning. The area south of Forbes could be alot more than what it is now. Much of it is a hodge-podge of rowhomes, twins, and apartment buildings hastily put up in the early 20th century. In fact, much of the haphazard design seems to derive from the fact that, back then, the city was changing so much that no one expected the same buildings to still be up in 2006. A look at a map of Oakland from the early 20th Century shows just how vastly that area has changed, including multiple re-alignments of the various streets.

I know it will never happen but, since we're speaking about crazy ideas, Oakland should ideally be a dense neighborhood of apartment buildings and condo towers. AFter all, it is the closest Pittsburgh has to a functining central urban area where people can live *and* work (downtown isn't quite there yet). The various N-S streets should be all made one way and lined with cafes, coffee shops, and small stores. Fifth and Forbes should both be major commercial districts lines by larger stores. Then there should be a subway running underneath Forbes with stops at McKee and Schenley Plaza.

The area between Oakland and Downtown should be redeveloped into a denser area as well, with commercial activity along Fifth and Forbes, thsu connecting the two areas to form one large central urban area. I actually beleive the building of the Boulevard of the Allies and Bigelow Boulevard (both serving as bypasses of the Hill) stymied the Hill from developing into a more vibrant area.

Also Baum Boulevard should be redeveloped into something more akin to the Champs Elysees and lined with dense apartment and condo buildings and high end stores for the people in the Shadyside area. The subway line can be extended from Oakland under Baum to East Liberty. The intersection of Baum, Liberty, and Aiken can be converted to a alrge decorative traffic circle. This will effectively extend teh central urban area further east to East Liberty, thus connecting the three centers of Pittsburgh (Downtown, Oakland, and East LIberty).

Also, I would add a loop trolley, preferably using restored PCCs as in San Francisco, whcih would run along Carson Street to a redesigned Birmingham Bridge (made to fit in better with the urban landscape), crossing the bridge and then running along Forbes to Craig, up Craig to Bigelow, then across the Bloomfield Bridge to Bloomfield, then down Penn Ave through the Strip district, then through downtown to link up with Smithfield Street, then across Smithfield back to Carson.

Of course all of this would pre-suppose a much alrger population and economic base than Pittsburgh has now, and also a much greater commitment by the area to the city than it has now.

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Anyway, does anyone know where the derivation of the "Soho" name for the neighborhood now known as the Upper Hill comes from? I imagine that this is actually derived from Soho in London which SoHo in NY is also really named after - the whole "SOuth of HOuston" thing was an afterthought. That said, msot NYers assume every Soho (or SoHo) around the world (such as the one in Hong Kong) is named after their SoHo, including the one in London itself.

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I personally cringe whenever I hear terms like "Downtown", "Uptown", or "Midtown" used anywhere outside of NY, however.
American cities and their "SoHo's" are imitating NYC. I have never heard that term in relation to Pittsburgh (or any similar variation) and I don't like them.

However Downtown/Midtown/Uptown are very common terms and are not imitating NYC, but simply geographic areas of a city. Thery are literally everywhere. I don't see how you could "cringe" about that at all. It's so common place that I don't even know where to begin on this one.

Also Baum Boulevard should be redeveloped into something more akin to the Champs Elysees and lined with dense apartment and condo buildings and high end stores for the people in the Shadyside area.

Yes, exactly. Sounds like the city Baum plan is to move in a grander direction and I hope that becomes reality.

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American cities and their "SoHo's" are imitating NYC. I have never heard that term in relation to Pittsburgh (or any similar variation) and I don't like them.

I think the Soho in Pgh pre-dates the SoHo in NYC, however. Kirkpatrick Street used to be called Soho Street (before that area was completely redeveloped in the early 40's for Terrace Village) and, until the 1980's or early 90's, there was still a stub portion of Soho Street off of 5th Ave. near where Kirkpatrick now ends (it was a steep cobblestone street with no homes which I think is now no longer signed). By contrast, SoHo in NYC came about in the 1960's as an attempt to copy off of the original one in London (and using the SOuth of HOuston justification to make it seem original).

However Downtown/Midtown/Uptown are very common terms and are not imitating NYC, but simply geographic areas of a city. Thery are literally everywhere. I don't see how you could "cringe" about that at all. It's so common place that I don't even know where to begin on this one.

I think that, if you trace back, you'll find that NYC was the first place to use the terms "Downtown", "Midtown", and uptown (uptown in NYC not beign a propoer name but a direction) and the basis for those designations were the relations those areas had to each other on a map of Manhattan. The thing is that, outside of the US, such terms are rarely used and the central area is often simply called "Central" or "CBD". Its only US cities that use those terms and often "Downtown" is used even in cities where there is no Midtown or Uptown (thus not really making any sense). Since NYC is likely the first city to ever use those terms (indeed, Philadelphia and Boston, the two major cities in the US older than NYC do not use those terms), it does strike me as NY-emulation to use the term "Downtown" much like how some other cities have a SoHo or a derivative thereof (like LoDo in Denver and SoMa in San Francisco) in emulation of NYC. In effect, the use of the term "Downtown" was probably the hip NY-emulating thing to do in the 1800's and early 1900's much like how the use of the term "Soho" is the hip thing now. That said, I know that "Downtown" has since passed so far into public usage that it is no logner seen as a NY-emulation thing but rather as an alternate name for a CBD. I just wish that Pgh would come up with its own name, however. That's all. If Boston can call theirs the Financial District, Philadelphia can call theirs Center City, and Chicago call theirs The Loop, Pittsburgh should start referring to its as the Golden Triangle.

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