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Thread: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania: Southside Flats

  1. #1
    Cyburbia Administrator Dan's avatar
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    Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania: Southside Flats

    A few weeks ago, I made a road trip to Pittsburgh to visit 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 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 a 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 soot-encrusted stone retaining walls, bridges and abandoned streetcar tracks.

    Anyhow, Southside Flats. Full size images are in the Pittsburgh album of the Gallery.



















































    My favorite photo of the lot. (full size)


  2. #2
    Cyburbian Seabishop's avatar
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    Awesome, I've always wanted to go to Pittsburgh for no good reason. For some reason I'm fascinated by rowhouse cities.

  3. #3
    Cyburbian
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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 a 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 soot-encrusted stone retaining walls, bridges and abandoned streetcar tracks.
    Dan, what's your feeling about the area a mile further east on Carson Street, where a J&L steel mill once stood?

  4. #4
    Cyburbia Administrator Dan's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by digger View post
    Dan, what's your feeling about the area a mile further east on Carson Street, where a J&L steel mill once stood?
    Unfortunately, we didn't make it that far down Carson. We were on foot, and my dogs were with us.

  5. #5
    Unfrozen Caveman Planner mendelman's avatar
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    Great photos! I love Pittsburgh. I've been there a couple times and loved it each time.

    It is such a beautyiful setting and has an amazing housing/building stock. Particularly for being so far west of the Appalachias.
    I'm sorry. Is my bias showing?

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    Cyburbian wahday's avatar
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    Great photos! I also love Pittsburgh and even considered moving there. Maybe in the future - I've got a good thing going here now. It will be interesting to see if this "up-and-coming" place every actually arrives or, as you noted, remains stuck in time. Still, I have a great fondness for those vestiges of industrial-era rust towns. I don't know what it is, but that patina of decay coupled with the emergence of renewal is very exciting. I swear, I can smell those streets through the photos...

    In general, I thought the architecture in Pittsburgh was very cool as so much of the core was built out even before the turn of the century. I think I could spend many years living there just to enjoy walking around the n'hoods.
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    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by Dan View post
    Unfortunately, we didn't make it that far down Carson. We were on foot, and my dogs were with us.
    That's too bad. I was interested in how your "frozen in time" impression would contrast with the development that's replaced the steel mill. There's a hundered years of difference in the space of a few blocks.

    The next time I'm through there, I'll try and take a few pictures.

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    Cyburbian b3nr's avatar
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    Me and HarreyFossettsHat were promised a field trip to Pittsburgh when we were in university... Apparently its twinned with Sheffield in the UK on account of the Steel industry and massive unemployment.

    They lied, we had to go to France and learn about the French planning system which is pretty much the same as ours but in French. So its nice to see what we missed out on.

  9. #9
    Cyburbian Luca's avatar
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    Nice neighborhood.

    I've decided that if I have end up back in the US I'm going to live in some old neighborhood like that -- Every time I go back to visit I like suburbia less
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    Cyburbian
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    Great Pics! It's been a while since I was home and they definately brought back memories of the good ole southside crawl days...I agree with digger if you had wandered further down east carson to the southside works your senses would be assaulted with the giant Cheesecake Factory and movie theater. It pretty much is the general protocal for pittsburgh redevelopment of the old steelmills. They pay very little attention to the existing neighborhoods and really plan in the bubble of the projects footprint...case in point being the Waterfront (in Homestead). This being said, i enjoy these developments, i just wish they stayed a little more true to the historic neighborhoods where they are located.

  11. #11
    Cyburbian Hceux's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Dan View post
    I literally blurted out "Nice 'lude" in my admiration of the teal/forest green Honda Prelude in this picture.

    Excuse me for the digression.

    Nice collection of photos, though.

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    Interesting responses

    Having spent the last 15 years, and most of my professional career in Pittsburgh, I am intrigued by this posting and the responses to it.

    Most locals (Pittsburghers) would identify the South Side (the stretch of East Carson Street between about 10th and 28th Streets) as hip, trendy and bustling. Most importantly, this area would be identified as being YOUNG - an adjective in short supply in a region with one of the highest average ages of any place in America. Obviously, this assessment is based on people and uses, not architecture. I can name a dozen neighborhoods in Pittsburgh that would LOVE to have what the South Side has in terms of vibrancy.

    Yes, lots of tattoo parlors - because that's where the young people hang out. You forgot to mention a half dozen coffee shops, more than one bar per block, and a perhaps the City's most diverse mix of restaurants, all located within 2 miles of the CBD, one mile east of a major retail/entertainment center in Station Square, two miles of the Oakland neighborhood which houses the City's two major Universities in Pitt and CMU, and within blocks of the South Side Works, the city's newest retail/entertainment center.

    Thanks for your post, and for the comments. I think I'll spend some time in "sout' side" this weekend. It will be a good reminder that Pittsburgh, for all it's lack of pretense is still a vibrant and interesting city.

  13. #13
    Cyburbian jmac's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by digger View post
    That's too bad. I was interested in how your "frozen in time" impression would contrast with the development that's replaced the steel mill. There's a hundred years of difference in the space of a few blocks.
    The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette had an interesting article this week about the history of the Jones & Laughlin mill and the Southside Works development.
    http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/08078/865741-334.stm

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