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Bloomfield's lights: They're baaack!

Written by Diana Nelson Jones on .

 

 
decorations
Bloomfield’s Christmas decorations are up for the first time in two years, thanks to funds from about 20 merchants and the sponsorship of the Allegheny Health Network.
 
Bloomfield Development Corp. is adding another reason to visit the neighborhood. Its Luminare Celebration features a "holiday shop walk" on Saturday the 14th, a belated Small Business Saturday for visitors to Liberty Avenue. The BDC will hand out cookies and water on the streets and many shops will offer discounts throughout the day, from noon to 5 p.m.
 
Santa Claus will be at Tessaro’s restaurant — on the corner of Liberty and Taylor Street — because Santa’s jolly old soul craves one of the city’s best hamburgers.  Frank D’Amico will guest bar tend at Poppy’s Bistro and Pub, the restaurant that succeeded D’Amicos Place at 4744 Liberty.
 
Many storefronts are decorated for company. And when the sun goes down, the Christmas lights will come on in Pittsburgh's Little Italy again.

 

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Shoot and tweet parking lots

Written by Diana Nelson Jones on .

 

 
carscarscars
 
 
In his blog post “The Fool Proof City,” Charles Marohn of Strong Towns writes that the best way to ensure your city’s sustainability is to stick with the tried and true method that worked for civilizations over thousands of years... before cars and the highway system.
 
OK, so we can’t get rid of cars and the highway system and might not want to but we can do better by doing less.
 
If you're out shopping this Friday, you probably like really big parking lots, but get your mind around this challenge that Marohn has put out for Black Friday:
 
“... we invite you to participate in the #BlackFridayParking Twitter event. We have all heard how our massive parking lots are sized for the day after Thanksgiving. We want to show just how ridiculous that is. 
 
“We invite Strong Towns advocates from all over the country to take pictures of parking lots this Friday and then post them to Twitter with the hashtag #BlackFridayParking. 
 
“We’ll collect those and share them in a format that everyone advocating against ridiculous parking standards can use.”
 
 
 Photo from the Bicycle Alliance of Washington
 
 
 

 

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Old tavern plan vs. new tavern plan

Written by Diana Nelson Jones on .

 

4025Butler2013 
A three-storefront building from 1835-1840 will be considered for city historic status at next week’s Historic Review Commission hearing. 
 
The Lawrenceville Stakeholders have nominated 4025-4029 Butler St., in reaction to plans by its current owner, John Pergal, to expand the adjacent Thunderbird Cafe and demolish part of the historic building. 
 
Walkabout couldn’t reach Mr. Pergal in time for this post but will update if we do. 
 
The hearing is is at 1 p.m. Dec. 4 in the Robin Building at 200 Ross St. Downtown
 
Ms. Peterson described the describing the building at issue as “a two story brick commercial structure with modest Greek Revival influence.”
 
 
John Naser, a native of Germany who became influential and wealthy, operated it as a tavern by the 1850s and his son operated it into the early 20th century.  It is currently home to a flower shop, a yoga studio and a hat store.
 
The photo at right was taken in 1909.old4025butler
 
Mr. Pergal has proposed a new restaurant and an expansion of the T-bird from 5,754 to 9,100 square feet. His plans call for demolishing one adjacent building and adding two- and three-story additions to two others that would include four upstairs apartments. 
 
At a public hearing before the zoning board in April, a small group of residents urged the board to deny special exceptions and variances for a second restaurant and off-site parking. They also lamented a larger presence for the club.
 
In the nomination report, house historian Carol Peterson writes that the building has merit by the historical activity it generated as an early Lawrenceville business, “significant to the development of Lawrenceville,” and for its architectural style “distinguished by innovation, rarity, uniqueness or overall quality of design, detail, materials or craftsmanship.”
 
She cites its “unique location and distinctive physical appearance” and that “it retains integrity of [original] location.”
 
Top photo by Keith Cochran
Historic photo from the Historic Pittsburgh Archives

 

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Short cut is city's first bicycle boulevard

Written by Diana Nelson Jones on .

speedhump 

 
Pittsburgh now has its first bicycle boulevard — a street on which bicycles have priority over other vehicular traffic — and it is ... (drum roll) ... Gold Way in Polish Hill.
 
Gold Way is an obscure little road unless you’re one of the hundreds of drivers and cyclists who use it to get stealthily from Polish Hill to Oakland.
 
Melwood Avenue in Polish Hill turns into Gold Way after leaving houses and sidewalks behind and entering what feels like a rural netherworld before rejoining Melwood via Denver Street, a teensy spur that has no other purpose in life but to dump cars back to civilization near Pittsburgh Filmmakers.
 
Gold is narrow and curvy and some drivers take it too fast, so the city acted on a request from residents and the Polish Hill Civic Association. With support of city Councilman Patrick Dowd, city planning and public works, a traffic-calming solution was reached — to install speed humps and designated bicycle lanes.
 
The work was completed this week.
 
Drivers will have to slow down for the speed humps but bicyclists can elude them.
 
The news comes via BikePGH. Read more here. 
 
There was no public roll-out, no ribbon-cutting ceremony, no politicians at podiums but this is no small thing and should be celebrated —  a good, site-specific solution that could be replicated on any number of quirky little roads and ways in this quirky ‘burgh.
 
A cheaper alternative, though, would be to freshly pave strips for bikes, isolate them from other traffic and let the rest of the streets fall further into the disrepair they're in. Pot holes, patches, ruts and and rubble are traffic-calming in their own right. 
 

 Photo by Kalie Pierce

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New map charts 22 Pittsburgh inclines

Written by Diana Nelson Jones on .

 

pennincline
Chris Olsen, our map-making friend at Esri, has come up with a new map of Pittsburgh’s historic inclines.
 
“It’s a storymap that takes you to the different locations, and you can toggle back and forth with the modern aerial of the city,” he wrote. “Most of the information collected on the inclines came from online books about the neighborhoods and sites like Historic Pittsburgh and others.”
 
His map shows photos and short histories of 22 inclines that once trawled the hillsides of Mount Washington, the Hill District, the Hilltop neighborhoods and Fineview. Some of them were cargo haulers only, a few for the movement of coal off Mount Washington.
 
The photo above shows what was called the 17th Street Incline. It connected Ledlie Street in the Hill District with 17th Street in the Strip.
 
Esri is a company that provides GIS mapping software, services, map apps and data. It is based in Redlands, Calif.
 
Chris previously developed a map of historic Pittsburgh maps with a timeline you could drag across the map on top. What made that fascinating (I couldn’t stop playing with it all day one day at work) was how a slow drag of the timeline revealed great changes in the same places decades later.
 
Chris explains his connection to Pittsburgh:
 

I created the Pittsburgh Historic Mapping site as a side project for my job as a Server and Apps support analyst at Esri.  I had met my wife at Esri, who is from New Brighton and a Pitt grad.  There was a lot of positive response from the project and I was able to add more content including aerials from 1939 and 1957 as well as some areas outside the city.  This also lead into a sister project for Cleveland and this new Story Map about Pittsburgh’s inclines.

 

I think the inclines are something that sets Pittsburgh apart from other cities and the two still running are a must visit for anyone.  I found that there have been 23 known inclines of significance, but the information on them is scattered.  I thought it would be great to shed some light on them, including some that were only around a few years and have been long forgotten.     

 
I would link you to that map but something isn't working on this web site. (shock!) Try typing this http://peoplemaps.esri.com/pittviewer/ to get it. It's worth whatever you have to do. My apologies for making you do what I should be able to do. 
 
Photo courtesy of Historical Society of Western Pennsylvania
 

 

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