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Cyburbia

Pittsburgh: Southside Flats

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You've probably seen all of this before, but not being very familiar with Pittsburgh, it's all new to me. I don't know how accurate my observations are, so please be gentle. :D

A few weeks ago, I made a road trip from Cleveland (specifically, the Heights area) to Pittsburgh to spend my paycheck at Ikea. During my short time in Pittsburgh, I explored a few neighborhoods. I took the most photos in Southside Flats, a gritty but up-and-coming neighborhood south of downtown. From Wikipedia:

The Southside Flats is a neighborhood in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania's South Side area. It is located just south of the Monongahela River. The neighborhood has one of the City of Pittsburgh’s largest concentrations of 19th century homes which has prompted outsiders to call the neighborhood the City’s Georgetown. It includes many bars and restaurants as well as residences. The main throughway in the Southside Flats is East Carson Street. This street is home to a significant portion of Pittsburgh's nightlife.

I'll add that I've never seen such a heavy concentration of tattoo studios in any other place. Literally, there were two or more tat/piercing studios on every block. The main street (Carson) also had a solid streetwall, with very few surface parking lots or other interruptions. The general vibe of the area and the mix of people I saw on the street felt similar to other perpetually-up-and-coming-but-never-quite-there neighborhoods in other Rust Belt cities, such as Ohio City in Cleveland; Hamtramck, Michigan; and Allentown/West Village in Buffalo. My travel partner said it reminded her of the Mission District in San Francisco.

It seemed like more so than any other major city I've visited, many elements of Pittsburgh are frozen in time, not through diligent preservation but rather because of the once-stagnant economy; art deco storefronts, the names and logos of long-forgotten railroads on viaducts and bridges, and plenty of late-1800s infrastructure such as stone retaining walls, bridges and abandoned streetcar tracks.

Anyhow, Southside Flats. Full size images are in the Pittsburgh album of the Cyburbia Gallery. (Visit the site; it's the least you can do, considering the bandwidth I'm using for this thread. :) )

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My favorite photo of the lot. (full size)

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"It seemed like more so than any other major city I've visited, many elements of Pittsburgh are frozen in time, not through diligent preservation but rather because of the once-stagnant economy; art deco storefronts, the names and logos of long-forgotten railroads on viaducts and bridges, and plenty of late-1800s infrastructure such as stone retaining walls, bridges and abandoned streetcar tracks."

I disagree. Very much preservation work is done in Pittsburgh to restore rather than tear down. I don't think the look of the Southside is at all accidental, or simply because it has been frozen because of a "stagnant economy."

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"It seemed like more so than any other major city I've visited, many elements of Pittsburgh are frozen in time, not through diligent preservation but rather because of the once-stagnant economy; art deco storefronts, the names and logos of long-forgotten railroads on viaducts and bridges, and plenty of late-1800s infrastructure such as stone retaining walls, bridges and abandoned streetcar tracks."

I disagree. Very much preservation work is done in Pittsburgh to restore rather than tear down. I don't think the look of the Southside is at all accidental, or simply because it has been frozen because of a "stagnant economy."

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The South Side has long been a vibrant neighborhood. For years it has been a strong artist community. The buildings have been designated historic for decades. It is one of the longest, most intact Victorian Era commercial district in the country. It has the designation as "Main Street USA" from NTHP. I has been a long established party area, with more liquor licenses than any other in the city. This was a hold over from the old steel mill days when the streets were lined with bars for the steelworkers to drop their sizeable paychecks.

It reminds me very much of the Haight in San Francisco. The area is in transition. Being sandwiched between 2 very popular upscale destinations. Station Square to the west and the new South Side Works on the East. The artist community is being squeezed out, now opting for less expensive areas like Lawrenceville and Bloomfield. Dive bars are becoming more and more trendy restaurants and now, it seems, an endless line of sports bars. For me it is losing a lot of its grungy charm... the price of success I guess

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It reminds me very much of the Haight in San Francisco.

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