West Penn Recreation Center 2015 Programs


West Penn Recreation Center has released their 2015 program guide with new programs for kids and adults.

Exercise rooms
Open 9 a.m. – 9 p.m. Mon – Fri,  10 a.m. – 3 p.m. on Saturdays.  Fee: $5/month for unlimited visits.

Athletic Trauma Unit (Mondays 8-9 p.m.)
A workout group dedicated to help everyone reach their own personal fitness goals.  Free.

Girls Volleyball
Ages 9-16.  Registration and info meeting January 5th 7 p.m.  Fee:  $20.

Yoga    (Mondays 6:30 – 7:30 p.m.)
Starting in January, with instructor Caitlin Laskey of Pittsburgh Yoga Collective..  Fee:  $20 for 12 sessions.

Bocce Ball League (Wednesdays 10 – 12 p.m. )
Starting Jan. 7.  For adults 18 and over.  Fee:  $10 for the season.

Youth/Teen Karate  (Wednesdays and Fridays)
Co-ed groups 8-11 yr (6-7 p.m.) and 12-17 yr (7-8 p.m.).  Fee:  $20/12 sessions

Kindersports (Tuesdays 10 – 11 a.m.)
Starting in February.  For kids 0-5 years old and a parent.  Fee:  $20/12 sessions.

Youth Soccer (Fridays 6-7 p.m.)
Starting in February.  Co-ed ages 6-8.  Fee:  $10.

And coming up this spring and summer,
Sand Volleyball (starting in June)
Summer Sports Camp, a weeklong camp focusing on single sports, including basketball, volleyball, soccer, skateboarding, and more.

All fees go to the West Penn Advisory Council to benefit youth programming and equipment needs.  Check out the West Penn 2015 Program Guide for more details.  To register for any program or for more information, call 412.622.7353 or email steve.rothhaar@pittsburghpa.gov.

Immaculate Heart of Mary Church hosts Pittsburgh Mass Mob on December 28


Mass mobs are bringing people into under-attended churches in Buffalo, Detroit, New York City, Rochester, Cleveland, and Philadelphia. The groups select old churches, advertise a particular date for Mass, attracting people who might not have known about the church. Now the idea has come to Pittsburgh, and the Pittsburgh Mass Mob will be in Polish Hill on December 28.


On Sunday, December 28, the Immaculate Heart of Mary Church is hosting the Pittsburgh Mass Mob at their 11:00 a.m. Mass. There will be a tour plus a social after Mass so that people can visit and reconnect. Elizabeth Davis of Pittsburgh Mass Mob says that they had almost 200 people show up for their last Mass Mob, and they hope to get even more people for this one. They also hope that alumni and people who have moved away will come back to celebrate this gorgeous historic Catholic Church and the neighborhood’s history.




For those who have not attended a service at Immaculate Heart of Mary Church (or those who have not been in a while), Christmas is a particularly good time to make a visit, as the church is beautifully decorated.  (These fabulous photos of Immaculate Heart of Mary Church were taken by Patrick Singleton in December 2012.)

Read more about mass mobs:
An NPR article about Mass mobs around the country

An article in the Tribune-Review about the Pittsburgh Mass Mob



Damage caused by speeding on Herron Avenue

120914HerronS-curve_sign hit

Last night a car drove up on the hillside at the Herron Avenue S-curve, knocking over the neighborhood sign and flattening the bushes and plantings. This part of the curve is hit frequently; the stone wall was badly damaged by another vehicle this fall. This is also where pedestrians cross, so the frequency of accidents is of particular concern.

Incidents like this highlight the need for long-term solutions to the problem of speeding and cut-through traffic. The issue is complicated.  Roads are public thoroughfares and Polish Hill’s location means that it’s the only quick route between certain points, so vehicles are going to come through. City traffic engineers and Zone Traffic Division are looking at the problem and have advised us that the best way to address the issue is to make it difficult for drivers to speed. If it’s not as quick and easy to cut through Polish Hill, more drivers will stay on the main roads, and the vehicles that do come through will move more slowly.

We’re collecting feedback from residents in order to see what traffic calming measures they want, and where, with the Polish Hill Traffic Calming Survey. The majority of responses thus far support speed humps (not speed bumps, which are higher). The most-requested location is Melwood Avenue, followed by Herron Avenue and Paulowna Street, all streets that are particularly affected by cut-through rush hour traffic.

Another way to support traffic calming solutions is to file a 311 report. Let the City know the impact that speeding and cut-through traffic have on you, and what solutions you want to see.


Polish Hill Civic Association Election Results

PHCA Square Identity Facebook

The Polish Hill Civic Association is excited to announce the results of the PHCA board election. Our new president will be John Rhoades. Valerie Testa will be Vice President, and Kalie Pierce will be 2nd Vice President and Membership Chair.

The six directorships up for election were filled by: Susan Atkinson, Mark Knobil, Catherine McConnell, Myrna Newman, Josiah Parkinson, and Ruth Rizner. All terms are for two years.

Congratulations to all the winners. They will be sworn in at the January 6 community meeting, which will take place at 6:30 p.m. on the lower level of the West Penn Recreation Center.

We are grateful to all the individuals who stepped forward as candidates. A record number of people cared enough to be willing to take on the responsibility and the extensive time commitment of being a PHCA board member. Thanks to all the people who were willing to make this commitment. We hope that all will remain as involved as ever.

This year saw strong participation in the board election.  It was very encouraging to see so many residents engaged and interested in the organization and its work in the neighborhood. We hope that this interest and engagement continues. The great benefits to our neighborhood come when residents work together.

Holiday shopping in Polish Hill: books, craft items, music and more

Lili holiday sale

Lili Cafe will have a one day holiday craft sale on Sunday December 14 from 3 – 8 p.m.  Many of the items are by Polish Hill artists and craftspeople.  There are also Lili Cafe gift certificates, so you can treat a friend to good coffee and food anytime they want.

Also in Polish Hill, check out:

Mindcure Records — upstairs from Lili, an excellent record shop with music in many genres, plus releases from the Mindcure label.  Open Tue – Sat 12 – 8 and Sun 12-5.  Phone:  412.621.1715.

Copacetic Comics — not just comics and graphic novels, Copacetic is also a very good small bookstore with lots of good bargain priced books; also cd’s, movies, cards and more.  If you’re not sure what to get, owner Bill Boichel can recommend something.  He can also order anything you want.  Open Mon – Fri 11-5, Sat 11-7, and Sun noon-5.  Phone:  412.251.5451.

Polish Hill Civic Association — t-shirts, holiday cards, notecards, postcards, and other items with a Polish Hill theme.  Items are also available in the online shore.  Sales benefit the organization.  Open Mon – Fri 10 – 6.  Phone:  412.681.1950.

Light Up and Holiday Potluck on Tuesday, December 2

3 trees

Polish Hill starts off the holiday season with three events on Tuesday, December 2.  All residents are welcome to attend!

5:30 – 6:00 p.m. Light Up at Brereton and Dobson Streets
Lighting the big fir at the monument, candy canes for the kids, and maybe some caroling.

6:30 – 8:30 p.m. General Community Meeting and Holiday Potluck at West Penn Recreation Center (lower level)
A short community meeting where the votes for the PHCA board election will be counted and the winners announced.  Then on to the fun:  visiting with neighbors over a big spread of food from some of the best cooks in Polish Hill.  Email us or call 412.681.1950 to let us know what you plan to bring.

Final week of the Three Rivers Film Festival


It’s the third and final week of the Three Rivers Film Festival, the oldest and largest film festival in the region.  The program this year includes sneak peeks, American and foreign dramas, documentaries, indies, restored classics and much more.  Any of these screenings would be worthy of attention; here are a couple that might be of particular interest to Polish Hill residents:

Thursday November 20    9:00 p.m. Mind Cure Records Presents
Polish Hill’s Mind Cure Records presents a night of local music and video collaborations.  This program showcases different ways that bands and musicians based in the Pittsburgh region are using the video medium to raise awareness of their music and themselves.  (At Brillobox, 4104 Penn Ave)
Wednesday, November 19  7:00 p.m.  The Saragossa Manuscript
Adapted from a novel by Jan Potocki, this is considered one of the great masterpieces of Polish cinema.  Co-presented by the Polish Cultural Council.  (At Regent Square Theater, 1035 Braddock Ave)

For more information, check out the festival website.

Historic sign tagged with graffiti


The Mother’s Bread sign, on the side of a house on Dobson Street, is over a hundred years old and is one of the best-preserved examples of an early hand-painted advertising sign in Pittsburgh.  It’s been written about in many articles and photographed innumerable times.

Sadly, last night someone spray painted a large tag on the sign.  Jim Young, who owns and lives in the house, called the police and a report has been filed.  Jim says that he’s been advised not to touch it yet, but already people are thinking about how to remove the graffiti without damaging the original sign.  We’ll be working with the City to get some help on this and keeping in touch with the police in hopes that whomever is responsible will be caught.  A garage down the block on Dobson was painted with this same tag a few days earlier.  and the police might be able to link it to someone.

The Mother’s Bread sign came to light after the neighboring building was demolished in 2007.  The sign, probably painted in the 1910’s, was in remarkably good condition because it had been covered up all those years.  The sign rapidly became one of the most-photographed sights in Polish Hill and people come through the neighborhood just to see it.  Jim Young says, “It’s been photographed constantly since it was revealed in ’07.  It’s a band’s album cover, background for modeling pics, and made it into a coffee table book about ghost signs. I’ve even bought art with my house on it at the Arts Festival. I know people like it as much as I do.  I’ve tried to encourage its lasting integrity with interior sealing of cracks and holes since it was revealed.”

Read more about the sign:

According to a 2011 article in the Post-Gazette, the sign was painted by Maurice “Red” O’Donnell.

Polish Hill resident Mark O’Connor wrote about the sign in a beautifully evocative essay about childhood, published in the Polish Hill Voice in May 2011.

The sign was featured in an article about old hand-painted advertising signs in the Tribune-Review in September 2012.

Photos from the Immaculate Heart of Mary School Reunion reception

On October 18, graduates from the Immaculate Heart of Mary School gathered to attend a reunion Mass, followed by a reception in Rosary Hall. In attendance were graduates from the 1930s until 1997, when the school closed. IHM Church and volunteers provided an impressive spread of food, and many people contributed photos and memorabilia to decorate the room. About 200 people attended the mass, and the reception hall was crowded and lively as people gathered to reminisce with old friends and family. The reunion was a big success and many people were heard to say that they wished it could happen ever year!

 (all photos by Leslie Clague for the PHCA)

Represent Polish Hill in the Bloomfield Halloween Parade!


On Thursday, October 30, we’ll be participating in the Bloomfield Halloween parade leading a group of Polish Hill residents and friends and a brass band including Lungs Face Feet and members of the May Day Marching Band.  This will be the third year we’ve participated in the parade and we’d love to have you join us.  Anyone is welcome.  Come in costume and meet us in front of Alexander’s restaurant (5104Liberty Avenue) in Bloomfield at 7:00 p.m.  The parade will begin at 7:30.

For more information, call us at 412.681.1950 or email us.