Tuesday, June 26, 2012

My response after writing to the Mayor

Here is the response I got after writing to the Mayor about my concerns regarding historically significant buildings being placed on the City of Pittsburgh's demolition lists, without first marketing them to potential buyers. This response did not come from the Mayor himself:

"We appreciate your comments and concerns, but we have to prioritize public safety. The homes you mentioned were in horrible shape structurally. The city will take steps to acquire any properties for which we have serious inquiries as far as purchasing, but we cannot afford to buy and/or market every abandoned home. We work hand-in-hand with community groups throughout the city and we take their suggestions into consideration as much as possible."

Here are my thoughts. The public doesn't generally keep track of what properties are placed on the demolition lists. Most of the time, a building is demolished before someone even knows it is endangered. The city should at least do a better job of publicizing its demolition lists, so that people interested in acquiring a certain property will have time and notice to do so!

In a nutshell, though, this means that the city plans to keep acquiring abandoned buildings and demolishing them without consideration to the historic significance of the buildings, or how they fit into the urban fabric of their neighborhoods, or how neighborhoods are destroyed by demolitions.

In decades, I imagine our city will look like this: a few nice neighborhoods that are basically islands, surrounded by fields.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

DEMOLISHED in Lawrenceville

DEMOLISHED:  168 1/2 38th Street in Lawrenceville (Pittsburgh)
DEMOLISHED. 1850s row-house in up-and-coming Lawrenceville. When will the city of Pittsburgh stop putting historically significant buildings on their demolition list, and instead market them to potential buyers / rehabbers? We should be furious. This is one of many.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Mon Valley Photo Tour, Part II: Donora

Donora is an old industrial town located in a region south of Pittsburgh known as the "Mon Valley."  Many of the towns in this area, due to the loss of industry and suburbanization, have suffered population decline for decades. Donora has an interesting and tragic history. In 1948, air pollution from local steel plants became trapped in the town. Within days, 20 people had died. This event was known as the Donora Smog of 1948.  Although intact, the main business district of Donora is largely vacant.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Mon Valley Photo Tour, Part I: Fayette City

Fayette City is a tiny village located along the Monongahela River in a region known as the "Mon Valley." This is a generally depressed area of the Pittsburgh metro, south of the city, still suffering from the decline of steel and other industrial employers. Fayette City is one of the older cities along the river, and one of the oldest in Fayette County. It has an interesting collection of early architecture. There are a couple astonishing survivors which may date from the pre-1820 period. Sadly, Fayette City appears to be mostly dilapidated and abandoned, although it's a small enough town that a little development could go a long way.

View of Fayette City
Very old door.
Above:  Surviving architecture from the early 19th century?

Fayette City School - Built in 1869