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East End

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Two Pittsburgh neighborhoods that could be said to live in a symbiotic environment are East Liberty and Highland Park. Highland Park was being farmed before the American Revolution, but was given its street patterns only after the Civil War. East Liberty was already a flourishing transportation and commercial nexus early in the nineteenth century. By midcentury, it was a pike town on the turnpike to Philadelphia and the prime crossroads for Pittsburgh's East End, a status augmented by the introduction of horsecars in 1859. By the early twentieth century, East Liberty was Pennsylvania's third most important commercial core, after downtown Philadelphia and downtown Pittsburgh. In the relationship of the two neighborhoods, it was East Liberty that sold goods and Highland Park that bought them, and the prosperity of the one was always dependent on the other.

Then in the 1960s, East Liberty was hit hard by urban renewal of the most rigid ideology. Its rabbit warren of streets and loading docks was bulldozed into a kind of suburban mall surrounded by a ring of high-rise subsidized housing projects that left it isolated. The decline of East Liberty badly afflicted Highland Park. Demolition of the high-rise in the early twenty-first century left gaping holes, which turned out to be big enough for a half-dozen big-box retail chains to move in, giving East Liberty a new hold on life as a kind of inner-city suburb.

Writing Credits

Author: 
Lu Donnelly et al.

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