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The Strip, Polish Hill, Lawrenceville, and Bloomfield

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The Strip, Polish Hill, and Lawrenceville are three contiguous neighborhoods that are linked by topography and a shared involvement in early industry. The Strip got its name from its shape: a flat, long, narrow strip of three hundred acres hemmed in by the south bank of the Allegheny River and the steep rise of the Hill. Nearby transportation routes made it an area of intense industrial activity early in Pittsburgh's history, and the plentiful jobs attracted immigrant workers who built row houses and churches amid the commercial buildings. Early in the twentieth century, industry outgrew the Strip's natural confines, and the district fell into a decline that lasted to the 1970s. The decline has since been halted, and now wholesalers, food markets, nightclubs, and eclectic restaurants give the Strip its vibrant early hours and weekend street life.

If the Strip and Lawrenceville offered jobs, the isolation of Polish Hill offered domestic sanctuary to the thousands of Poles who settled here around 1885. The wood-frame homes clinging to this hillside are now attracting newcomers to settle here, though the majority of the neighborhood continues to be of Polish origin. Although Lawrenceville, upstream on the Allegheny, may be another extension of the Strip, it nonetheless has a separate character by virtue of its density along two spine roads, Butler Street and Penn Avenue, and its distinct central core in the old Allegheny Arsenal (AL93).

Like Lawrenceville, Bloomfield straddles two main thorough-fares, in this case, Liberty and Penn avenues, which here rise high above the Allegheny River, giving Bloomfield the aspect of a hill town. Buildings along Liberty Avenue are superior in architectural quality, and the secret of Liberty Avenue's animation lies in its unusual width as it passes through Bloomfield and in its social cohesion as the undisputed heart of the city's Italian-origin community. Italians began to arrive from the Abruzzi region in the 1880s; by World War I, they had settled in this neighborhood, which had been founded by German immigrants a half century before.

Writing Credits

Lu Donnelly et al.

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