Gentrification In South Side Works

In recent years, South Side has become a hot spot for nightlife and tourist attraction as one of Pittsburgh’s most popular neighborhoods. However, a lot of people don’t realize the historical importance that lies within these very streets. Taking a closer look at the comparison of this neighborhood, which was originally the village of Birmingham, in the late 1800s to now will offer a unique experience to learn about my new home in Pittsburgh.

South Side first appeared on the map in the 18th century when King George III granted the land to a man named John Ormsby. This land was rewarded to Ormsby for his contributions during the French and Indian War, in which he was responsible for the building of Fort Pitt. Upon receiving this land, it was divided into four different sections and was eventually added to the city in 1872. Dr. Nathanial Bedford, who happened to be Ormsby’s son-in-law, was also a key contributor to the early development of the neighborhood. As a physician in Western Pennsylvania, he devolved the village of Birmingham and also named many of the streets, which are the same today, after friends and family (South Side Green 1).

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East Carson Street is a famous street that still holds some of the original buildings from the late 1800s today. It is a historical site that people regularly visit. Little to no new buildings have been built since the 19th century. Many of these buildings hold the unique Victorian style of that century with row houses and carved doorways (Living Places 1).

The city of Birmingham was a hub for industrial work. Its proximity to the three rivers that surround the city of Pittsburgh; The Allegheny, Monongahela, and Ohio, provided easy access for transportation of goods in the late 1800s. In fact, South Side was one of the first neighborhoods to begin glass production in the city. It wasn’t until a couple years later that the area introduced iron production. Founded in the mid 19th century, the Jones and Laughlin Steel Company operated its iron services in South Side. They eventually closed business in the late 20th century. In addition, the Pittsburgh Terminal Building was located in this neighborhood and was the largest warehouse between New York and Chicago where people would frequently stop.

In the late 1800s much of the South Side population was German and Eastern European immigrants. These individuals had come over from Europe in hopes of a better life in which they could work freely and avoid religious persecution. While there is noat a lot of documentation about culture and daily life of South Side from this time, many of these immigrants built their own little communities with churches and schools. They spoke their own languages and continued on with many of their traditions. This brought a lot of culture to the neighborhood that we still see today. You can still go visit some of these churches now.

Today, South Side is comprised of two contrasting neighborhoods: South Side Flats and South Side Slopes. South Side Flats is made up of historic sites such as East Carson Street. It also is where the former Jones and Laughlin Steel Company was. This area is now known as South Side Works which is a very popular shopping location. I have personally been to South Side Works and find it to be a very well-structured complex with beautiful views and a great atmosphere.

Obviously, major construction has taken place over the years with the entire area being transformed into this giant shopping district. The gentrification that has taken place is very obvious in South Side Works with stores like goodwill and Aldi’s just a couple of blocks away. The comparison of these high-end retailers with those geared toward a lower class displays just how much the area has changed. According to The Pitts News “Across the street from the South Side’s Goodwill is a new community that has no need for such a place, complete with loft apartments that are going for no less than $1,100 a month for a one-bedroom, one-bath. The idea of a wealthy population driving up once-cheap rents and displacing longtime residents is nothing new” (Mastracci 1). It’s clear that while these community improvements are generating more engagement and tourist attraction, some of the culture is beginning to fade and locals are beginning to face the backlash of these higher end franchises.

South Side Slopes is mostly filled with residential areas as well as parks such as South Side Park. This area of land is known for its amazing views of downtown Pittsburgh and contains a lot of wildlife. While population in these neighborhoods has begun to slowly decrease over the past decade, their historic and scenic views are hard to beat and can be a great escape from the nightlife that crowds the other side of the neighborhood.

With any neighborhood, of course, comes community challenges. Many individuals complain about certain aspects of living in South Side such as the extensive array of nightlife. College students frequently gather at local bars on weekends to kick back and relax. This can be frustrating for locals. Another issue stems from transportation. In a recent article in the Pittsburgh Gazette, La’Keeta Pittman voices her frustrations by describing ‘ From what I hear from other larger cities comparable to us, I think we are pretty far behind. Sometimes there are dirty buses, dirty Ts. The schedules are off sometimes. It can be crowded depending on what time of day you use it, and for someone who uses it every day, I think it’s kind of expensive.’ (Weis 1). With South Side being across from downtown, transportation is sometimes a big issue for those trying to get to work in a timely manner. That being said, South Side resident Barbara Rudiak explains that “South Side, as with the other 89 neighborhoods in the city, has its challenges. We also have great community organizations that are aware of those challenges and work collaboratively with each other and our government officials to resolve them” (Gazette)

In conclusion, South Side is a wonderful area with a broad range of history and timely culture. It’s a great place to check out if this is your first time in Pittsburgh and I would definitely recommend it to anyone who wants to experience the social scene here in the city. I’m so glad I was able to learn more about this area and will definitely try to visit again sometime soon. 

Negative Impact Of Gilded Age

During “The Gilded Age” there were many positives impacts to come from industrialization, such as things like steel being introduced, there were more negative impacts going on at the time. For example, poverty, hazardous jobs, and diseases. Firstly, one big impact was poverty. Poverty was very harsh on those people living in the cities. They lived in tiny places such as tenements or flophouses. These “houses” were tiny, like overcrowded apartments, no windows, and they brought diseases. These so called “houses” were so bad for living in but, people back then needed a place to live. In “Institute for Children, Poverty, and Homelessness, The Gordan’s Story, 2018” it said,”Storm water poured from the ceiling of the basement apartment and down its plaster walls, soaking the family’s meager bed, dresser, and table before coming to rest in deep, dirty puddles on the floor.” This meaning that the houses were not really stable and were not sanitary.

That’s one reason why te Gilded Age had a negative impact on the people. Secondly, another big impact were the hazardous jobs. Some hazardous jobs were things such as glass workers or women making shirts. Glass workers had very hazardous jobs and their working conditions were not good at all. Working will glass is hard, these workers had to cut them and hanñdle them in many ways. If they were to misplace their hands, or drop it, they would cut their fingers or their bodies.

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