Volunteer now to help with the Three Rivers Film Festival


This November, the Melwood Screening Room (just outside of Polish Hill at 477 Melwood Ave. in Oakland) is once again hosting the annual Three Rivers Film Festival (3RFF) along with the Harris Theater (Downtown), the Regent Square Theater (Regent Square), and Waterworks Cinemas (in the Aspinwall/Fox Chapel area).  The Festival, which is sponsored by Pittsburgh Filmmakers and Dollar Bank will run November 7 – 22 and, as in past years, will screen an amazing variety of films – independent American cinema, sneak peeks, new documentaries, restored classics, a competitive shorts program, critically-acclaimed international films, and the new concept micro-cinemas. There will also be a wide assortment of related activities like visiting filmmakers, informal discussions, live music events, and micro-cinemas, as well as Opening Night and Closing Night parties.

Pittsburgh Filmmakers is now looking for volunteers to help with the festival.  If you’d like to be part of the Volunteer Committee or simply want to volunteer to help at the screenings in the theater of your choice, contact 3rffvolunteers@gmail.com.

For updates on the festival, keep your eyes on future editions of this publication, check the festival website (3rff.com) from time to time, and “like” the festival on Facebook (3RFF).

Above:  still from Duane Michals:  The Man Who Invented Himself (2013), screening on Tuesday, November 19.  

Excerpts from the District 7 monthly newsletter

city of pittsburgh banner

Here are upcoming events excerpted from the District 7 monthly e-newsletter.

Parking Permit Meeting in Lower Lawrenceville

On September 4th, there will be an informational meeting regarding the Residential Parking Permit Program for a section of Lower Lawrenceville.  The affected area can be found here.  This is the first step in the lengthy resident-driven process.  It will not be determining the final outcome, but is designed to provide information to residents regarding the program.

Voice Your Opinion on the Capital Budget!

The City of Pittsburgh announced two public hearings designed to give residents the opportunity to voice their opinion about the 2015 Capital Budget.   The first hearing will occur at 6:00 pm on September 19th at the Ammon Recreation Center, 2217 Bedford Avenue.  The second hearing is scheduled for 6:00 pm on October 29th at the Morningside Senior Center, 6944 President Way.  City assets such as bridges, roads, parks, and buildings are built and renovated through funding provided by the Capital Budget.  It also supports long-lasting programs to strengthen neighborhoods and improve resident quality of life.  If you would like to give testimony at either of the meetings you can register ahead of time with Jennifer Sample Presutti at 412-255-2640 and jennifersample@pittsburghpa.gov, but registration at the meetings is also acceptable.

News from the Neighborhoods

Pittsburgh Park(ing) Day

Spend a day this fall reimagining urban space in the City of Pittsburgh!  The 7th Annual Pittsburgh Park(ing) Day is happening on September 19th.  Each year individuals, community groups, organizations, and businesses set up displays in designated parking spots to showcase the power of “green” in otherwise “gray” areas.  The goal is to showcase the possibilities for reducing pollution and highlight how land development is impacted by automobile use. Read about last year’s event here. A map of locations will be coming soon and can be accessed here.

LIVE! in Lawrenceville

The annual benefit for Lawrenceville United, Live! In Lawrenceville, is just around the corner!  Enjoy live music, an auction, interactive games, dancing, and food from Butcher on Butler, Dive Bar & Grill, Hambones, and other Lawrenceville businesses.  The event on September 20th is your chance to celebrate and learn about the programs offered by Lawrenceville United.  Purchase your ticket today!

Ground Breaking at Three Crossings Coming Soon

One of the major redevelopment efforts slotted for the Strip District should begin in September.  Three Crossings is designed to include a 299-unit apartment building with 250,000 square feet of office space next to a multimodal garage with 700 parking spaces.  The project is envisioned as helping connect downtown to Lawrenceville.  Read more about it here.

ReLeaf Lawrenceville!

Join Tree Pittsburgh to learn about Pittsburgh’s first neighborhood level urban forest master plan.  On September 17th at St. Augustine’s, 225 37th Street, between 6:30 and 8:00pm the organization will be unveiling the plan and discussing next steps.  Enjoy light refreshments and participate in the effort to re-leafing Lawrenceville!

Polish Hill Market is Back in Business!

Alfred’s Deli & Market equipped with new sign, fresh paint, and polished hardwood floors has re-opened in Polish Hill on Brereton Street.  The redesigned market will carry the basics (milk, butter, eggs, etc.), but also be full of local produce, organic and gluten-free items, Polish favorites, and household items.  The store hopes to continue to carry on the tradition of being a small, local grocery store built to serve the neighborhood and be part of the community.   Read more about it here. 

Did you Know?

Besides holding public hearings regarding the capital budget as mentioned above, the City of Pittsburgh also holds public hearings concerning Community Development Block Grant allotment.  These meetings offer citizens the opportunity to express thoughts and voice opinions to help guide local spending and the implementation of projects.  These meetings are part of the Citizen Participation Plan used by the Department of City Planning to ensure citizens are offered the opportunity to participate in the process.  The CPP can be found here.

Upcoming Festivals and Special Events

Pro Bike Pro Bike Pro Place Conference September 8th-11th

Morningside Mile September 13th

Thrival: Innovation and Music Festival September 13th-14th

Pittsburgh Park(ing) Day September 19th

LIVE! in Lawrenceville September 20th

Friendship House Tour September 28th

Find a complete list of upcoming events on the District 7 calendar.

Follow District 7 Council office on twitter and facebook for the latest news and information.

Fire Site Development drawings presented at the September 2 community meeting


Architects Pfaffmann + Associates presented the preliminary drawings for the Fire Site Development at the September 2 community meeting.  The slideshow of images included building plans, elevations, and projections of what the buildings will look in context with the rest of the surrounding buildings on Brereton and Dobson streets.



The development includes two for-sale units on Dobson Street and rental units on Brereton that will convert to for-sale buildings several years after construction.  These drawings are not exactly what the buildings will look like; still to be determined are details like siding, colors, trim, and plantings.   Factors in the design process included the limitations of the small, steep site, the need for off-street parking, and input from Polish Hill residents.


Pfamman+Associates_FireSite_Floor plans

Now, the developer will begin working to secure financing for the project.  Next are approvals, permits, and site preparation.  Although there is already interest from people who would like to rent or buy, there will be no pre-sales until the actual construction begins, probably next summer.

See the article from the Summer-Fall Polish Hill Voice for more details on the plans.

(Drawings courtesy of Pfaffmann + Associates)

Free computer recycling event in Shadyside on August 16

Electronics Recycling










Securely recycle your old computers next Saturday, August 16, when  Commonwealth Computer Recycling will be providing on-site hard drive destruction and recycling services from 9:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. at the Calvary Episcopal Church in Shadyside.

The following computer components will be accepted for free at this event:
— Desktop, laptops, tablets, servers, hard drives (on-site data destruction will be offered for $10 per hard drive)
— LCD monitors
— Cell phones, Ipods, MP3 players, etc
— Computer Peripherals include keyboards, mice, printers (< 50lbs), power supplies, motherboards / circuit Boards, cables, UPS batteries & backup systems, power supplies, memory, hard drives, computer fans, routers, switches, wireless routers, access points, bridges, firewalls, cabling, modems, KVM switches
— Phones, phone systems
— AC Adapter & wiring

The following items will be accepted for a $10 DISPOSAL FEE:
— CRT monitors
— Audio/video equipment
— Radio, receivers, amplifiers, tuners, equalizers, tape decks
— VCR, DVD & Blue Ray Players
— Wooden speakers
— Consumer/household goods
— Sweepers, hair dryers, toasters, blenders, coffee makers, microwaves and other consumer electronics

The following items will BE ACCEPTED for an additional charge (space permitting):
— Televisions

The following items will NOT BE ACCEPTED:
Universal Waste
— Alkaline batteries
— Light bulbs

Freon containing appliances
— Air conditioners
— Dehumidifiers
— Refrigerators

Calvary Episcopal Church is located at 315 Shady Ave in Pittsburgh.  CCR is Department of Environmental Protection permitted and an R2 certified Responsible Recycler.

Portion of proceeds benefit Calvary Episcopal Church.  Click here for more information.

Tour de Trees: take a bike ride along the riverside with Tree Pittsburgh!



Tree Pittsburgh is an environmental non-profit organization dedicated to enhancing the City’s vitality by restoring and protecting City trees.  They’re also the organization that brought the goats to Polish Hill last month, as part of a long-term project to restore the trees on the hillside at West Penn Park.

Not only is this a great project, it isn’t costing Polish Hill anything — Tree Pittsburgh is doing this sort of work all over Pittsburgh.  Their mission is “… to be a leader in creating a healthy, attractive and safe urban forest by inspiring and engaging citizens to maintain, plant and protect trees. Taking care of our trees will improve our quality of life by maximizing the substantial environmental, social and economic benefits that trees provide.”

Tree Pittsburgh’s Tour de Trees is a fundraiser to help them continue this work.  For individuals or families who like biking and are interested in the riverfront ecosystem of our city, this would be a fun thing to do — and it will help support an organization that’s doing things for Polish Hill and Pittsburgh.

Find out more about Tour De Trees, or register.


The Great Railway Strike of 1877 and the burning of the Roundhouse


The Great Railroad Strike of 1877 was one of the most important events in labor history, spreading over ten states.  It was the first general strike in American history, and the biggest clashes of the strike occurred right here on July 21 and 22, on a site that now lies on the border between Polish Hill and the Strip District.

The strike began on July 13 in Martinsburg West Virginia, when the railroad companies began cutting salaries and wages, reducing work weeks, and increasing workloads.  The workers resisted and went on strike.  The unrest rapidly increased and spread to other cities eventually going far as St. Louis and San Francisco.  When the strike reached Pittsburgh on July 21 1877, the workers of the Pennsylvania Railroad took over the Roundhouse, located near 28th Street and Liberty Avenue, and burned the building.  The next day, the state militia struck back.  According to a newspaper account of the time, “The city of Pittsburgh was completely controlled by a howling mob, whose deeds of violence were written in fire and blood.”

Once it was over, blocks of railroad property from around 33rd Street (now Herron Avenue) to 14th Street were destroyed.  More than 40 people were dead and many more were wounded.

These stereoscopic views were taken by SV Albee in the aftermath of the strike.  The image at the top of the post should look a bit familiar despite the lack of trees — it’s a view of 28th Street, looking south.  The diagonal road visible on the  hillside is Brereton Street, leading from 28th Street up to Stockholm Street and Kenney Way.

Above:  a view of the burned Roundhouse, from the hillside.  In the distance is the North Side of Pittsburgh.

Roundhouse after burning_sm

Another view of the burned Roundhouse.  In the background are homes in the Strip District.

The structure that was destroyed in the strike was replaced with another roundhouse which remained in service well into the 20th century.  That structure is no longer standing, but its former location at 28th Street is still defined by the curve of the stone wall, which was built around it.

railroad strike marker

The only marker of the event is a plaque at the small traffic island at 28th Street and Liberty Avenue.  The plaque is difficult to see, and this piece of history deserves more.  The PHCA is working with the City to create a park to commemorate the Great Railway Strike of 1877 and the events that occurred at the bottom of the hill.  The proposed site for Roundhouse Park is on the north corner of Brereton and 30th Streets, on property owned by the Transit Authority.  An update of the effort to create the park will appear in the next issue of the Polish Hill Voice newsletter, coming out in mid-August.

For more information and images of the Great Railway Strike, check out these sites:

A contemporary account of the strike from Harpers Weekly, August 11, 1877  (from The Catskill Archive).   After reading this article, you’ll never look at Liberty Avenue the same way.

A set of images from Explore PA History.

Here is a set of stereoscopic views of the aftermath of the Pittsburgh strike.  (To see more detail, click on the images to zoom in.)

A sunny day and record attendance at the Polish Hill Arts Festival

Sorry about the delay — we had to rest after a very long — and very fun — day!  Here’s the first installment of photos from the arts festival.



Pete from Pandemic provided music for the first couple hours of the festival and between sets.  Here, he consults with Olivia Kissel on music for her dance performance.


Olivia got a few small audience members to join her.


The Mobile Sculpture Studio is working with young people in Hazelwood to make a sculpture.  They brought their traveling setup so festival visitors could see the process.


A neighborhood band returns:  The Polish Hillbillies, active in the late 90s, are back together and played an energetic set.


Visitors sat on the church steps to chat.

Gangwish started out with bubbles and a dirge, then settled into a meditative set of experimental music.


Jaguar Mountain Rundown, from Uniontown, brought the country music.


Hanging out and visiting with friends.


Timbeleza (with guest samba dancers from the Pittsburgh Dance Center) performed the final set of the day.



To everyone who vended, performed, volunteered, or attended:  thank you for a wonderful day!

A gray day can’t stop the Immaculate Heart of Mary Church festival


It’s a gray and sometimes drizzly day, but that is not stopping anything.  We’ve been told that there were more people at the Polka Mass than there were at Christmas!  The food is almost sold out and there’s a crowd in the big tent enjoying the polka band, and lots of people playing the games.


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Ceil sat in on drums for a couple of numbers.




The band gets a request.


Punchy Zielmanski and Darlene Hennen take a break from running games.

And the fun will continue for another couple of hours!

(Photos by Leslie Clague for the PHCA)


Polish Hill Arts Festival vendor preview #5

More vendors!  Let’s get right to it:

Reyghan Pierce is a Polish Hill resident and recent graduate from CAPA.  She’ll be selling multi-media works, drawings, and paintings.



Sarah Jo Antonucci makes glazed tile coasters from beer labels.



Malcolm Gittins paints old-time movie monsters:


Malcolm Gittins-1

Nicole Bloch makes jewelry and home items from reclaimed materials, including bike chain.   She’ll also have soaps and other items.



Cyberpunk Apocalypse will be joining us for the first time, bringing a collection of books and ‘zines.


Joe Holtz has been with the festival every year since it started.  Joe creates paintings on glass — an old folk tradition, but updated with pop culture references.



Siren Studio is a group of women, each bringing their own unique artwork.






Jabari Mason will be selling his bookmarks (below), as well as prints, original paintings, and much, much more.



Erin, Lindsay, and Jackie will be selling a great selection of vintage clothes and accessories — at “artist-friendly” prices, they say.


Stephanie Neary’s work includes dense freehand patterns on eggs, light switch plates and more.



And finally, Cheryl Sedlock will be doing tarot card readings, and tabling with Healcrest Farms, who will bring herbal products, teas, and pops.



And that’s our fabulous vendor lineup!  See you Sunday!

Polish Hill Arts Festival performance preview


Here’s the great performance lineup for this year!

12:15  Pandemic Pete
Starting the day, Pete will be playing world dance music.  Pete’s regular events include Pandemic’s monthly dance party  at Brillobox, Fridays at Bayardstown Social Club, and Weather Permitting.

2:15  ViraSamba
This ensemble will get everyone dancing!  ViraSamba includes some members of Timbeleza.


3:15  Olivia Kissel
Olivia  was a founding member and co-director of Zafira dance troupe and has taught and performed around the U.S. and abroad.   Olivia also makes jewelry and will be selling her pieces at the festival.  Learn more about Olivia’s work here.


4:30  Gangwish
Gangwish was originally Sam Pace’s solo project to experiment with abstract drum and synth.  It’s turned into a collective vision of expansive and experimental pop music.  The performance at the festival will include members of Midnight Snake/KMFD/Acid FathersTemple.  Sam also promises  surprises — we don’t know what kind of surprises.


5:30  The Polish Hillbillies
A band-about-town in the late 1990s, then the members went their separate ways.  They’re back together with a reformed lineup which includes three original members.   It’s great to welcome this neighborhood band with their alt-country sounds back to Polish Hill.


6:30  Geña y Peña
Geña is from Puerto Rico and moved to Pittsburgh in 197.  She duets regularly with Carlos Peña, in a project called “Geña y Peña” and they perform boleros corta-venas all over Pittsburgh.


7:30  Jaguar Mountain Rundown
From Uniontown, Jaguar Mountain Rundown describe themselves as “alternative/cowpunk/rock”.


8:30 – onwards  Timbeleza
Timbeleza is a batucada — an African influenced Brazilian percussive style.  Returning to perform at the festival for the sixth year, Timbeleza is a big favorite here and one of the bands that people ask us to bring back each year.


Here they are performing at Pittatonkatonk Brass Festival in May:


And the energy won’t stop between bands — Pete from Pandemic will be on hand all day playing great world dance music between sets.