Keeping an Eye on Hazelwood Flats: Aug. 2021


Hazelwood is a neighborhood about 4 miles down the Monongahela River from downtown Pittsburgh. It is currently experiencing significant change, at least in the Hazelwood Green portion. The area that I’m designating as Hazelwood Flats, is a small predominantly residential enclave. On the north-south axis, it is sandwiched between the former site of the Jones and Laughlin Steel Mill (now Hazelwood Green) and a mixed commercial/industrial area that includes the city’s recycling processing center. On the east-west axis, it is sandwiched between the river and the railroad tracks.

Given the extent of disinvestment in the Hazelwood in recent decades, this enclave is relatively intact with far fewer vacant lots than in the remainder of the neighborhood. The housing stock ranges from boarded up to maintained with vibrant yards.

Only two streets cross the railroad tracks to connect this enclave with Second Ave, the neighborhood’s main street and a main artery for the city. A small road with car-swallowing potholes connects the enclave directly to Hazelwood Green bypassing the black wrapped fence surrounding Uber’s test track.

While Uber has a veiled presence in the neighborhood and robots are being tested nearby, the question is what will happen to the residents and the neighborhood. Through this photographic series, I will periodically return to the neighborhood to document the physical changes to the Hazelwood Flats to capture a part of the answer to that question as it unfolds. This is in conjunction with two related series documenting the changes to Hazelwood Green and the slope portion of Hazelwood on the other side of the railroad tracks.

What’s New

Since I last visited Hazelwood Flats, work has begun on the renovation of the former Hazelwood Brewery (image 5a). The proposed new use of this site is a hub for craft brewers. I noticed a vacant lot on Blair Street (image 9a) that may have been newly vacant or was just more noticeable as a staging area for the water main replacement in the neighborhood (similar to the water main replacement in Uptown this summer). As I’m becoming more familiar with the neighborhood, I’m seeing more details – such as noticing the rowhouses tucked along the Ways (image 15) similar to other worker housing neighborhoods in Pittsburgh like Lawrenceville and Garfield.

The Photos

Locating Hazelwood Flats

Previous posts in series

Keeping an Eye on Hazelwood: Sept. 2020

Keeping an Eye on Hazelwood: May 2020

Keeping an Eye on Hazelwood: Introduction

Open Streets Hazelwood Green

I was confused when Open Streets Pittsburgh announced that it was closing the streets in Hazelwood Green to cars and opening them to bicycles, roller skates, walkers, etc. Unlike the other locations they’ve done, not many cars use these streets and there aren’t any businesses on the site that people would come back to patronize after the festival.

However, it worked as a vehicle to increase awareness of the bike trail, plaza, and repurposed industrial buildings on the site. People who never or rarely come to Hazelwood, but come to Open Streets, came and participated. There were far more people than I’ve seen congregated in a single location since the beginning of the pandemic, which is also an exponential increase in the number of people I’ve seen in Hazelwood Green either pre-, post-, or during pandemic.

It was great to see the new plaza put to one of its intended uses as a concert venue with vendors on the paved portion. I arrived in time to grab some lunch from the tent for C&D’s Kitchen, a local Hazelwood restaurant, before finding a good seat to enjoy Jimmy Adler’s Blues Band and people watch. A young girl unconsciously stopped in her tracks to swing her hips to the music (not having the muscle coordination yet to do both). Across the green, a man kicked off his shoes to boogie on the grass.

I hope to enjoy many more such sights at events in this plaza.