Keeping an Eye on Uptown: Nov. 2019


Keeping an Eye on Uptown: Introduction

Inspired by my post from this summer, I decided to start a photographic series of Pittsburgh’s Uptown neighborhood. This neighborhood is a hodgepodge of abandoned and renovated townhomes, parking lots, car-oriented businesses, corner stores, industrial uses, and new construction residential buildings. It is predicted to be on a tipping point from being mostly ignored to experiencing intense growth fueled by activities in and around the neighborhood. These activities include:

  • UPMC Mercy hospital is currently building a 410,000 sq ft vision and rehabilitation center in the middle of Uptown.
  • The Penguins hockey team is supposed to be finally getting off the ground with their redevelopment of the Lower Hill neighborhood, which is adjacent to Uptown.
  • June 2019 saw the groundbreaking for the CAP project to reconnect the Lower Hill to Downtown over the freeway that bisected the two in the 1960s.
  • The Bus Rapid Transit system currently in the planning stage will one day connect Downtown and Oakland through Uptown.

As these projects move forward, there will likely be more investment and changes to Uptown. This photographic series is intended to capture these changes by revisiting the same sites at regular intervals over the next several years.

In the coming months, I intend to release two related series to record the progress of the CAP and the Lower Hill redevelopment.

Visualizing the Wealth Gap: Halloween Edition

Every year, I look forward to the giant, inflatable dragon airing its wings in Beechview. It is the largest decoration in a small yard overflowing with inflatable ghosts and a giant spider, a witch on a broom, lights, pumpkins, and leaves. Many neighborhoods vie for the best and most prolific displays of Christmas lights. If there were a similar contest for Halloween, this modest-sized house with the dragon seems to me the cream of the crop in a neighborhood with a prolific smorgasbord of Halloween lights and decorations.

This year, I discovered a possible competitor for the title in Shadyside along Pittsburgh’s most intact millionaire’s row. On a lawn that is probably bigger than the footprint of the dragon house is an elaborate, customized ghost wedding. Across the street on a slightly smaller lawn, an 8-10 ft high, gleaming, ceramic clown holds court over a multitude of companions (minions?) of similar sinister and expensive cast.

On seeing these displays, my stomach sank. I felt a loss and a disappointment that this neighborhood may steal the crown for best Halloween decorations due to the unfair advantage of having more disposable wealth. I suppose it really comes down to what is the measure for determining the winning neighborhood: quantity, quality, per capita, density, creativity, or exuberance.