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.

Polish Hill Arts Festival vendor preview #4

Another daily dose of great vendors!  Owlet Organics is new to the festival.  Their embroidered baby clothes are super-cute.




Alethea Okonak, aka John the Craftist, will bring back her great Pittsburgh themed cards and other paper items:




Cathie and Renee of Animoon Workshop will bring nature themed jewelry, housewares and art:




Jared Ondovchik of Artifact Metalworks makes knives that are both useful and as beautiful as sculpture.




Olivia Kissel will have jewelry and art created from “chain, old money, flotsam and jetsam”.  Olivia will also be performing Middle Eastern dance at the festival.



Eddie Maier is from West Virginia.  He’ll be bringing woodblock prints.  See more of Eddie’s work here.



Whimsical Wonders is another returning vendor.  Their wind chimes and jewelry are made from old silverware.



And we’ll have more artists and craftspeople coming up tomorrow ….

Polish Hill Arts Festival vendor preview #3

So many great vendors this year — we’re not even halfway through the list!  This preview starts with Tugboat Printshop, who are with us for the first time this year.




Next up is Andy Scott, a cartoonist who creates zines, comic books, posters, and more.  (He did the poster for the arts fest in 2010 and 2011).




Commonwealth Press will be bringing their Pittsburgh-themed t-shirt designs.  Last year, they had a Polish Pirates t-shirt that was very popular.  They say they’ll be bringing that back this year (see below, right) along with a bunch of other great original designs


Florence Smith creates jewelry and accessories in leather and metals.


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Garick Tai-Lee and Charlie Alessi, also known as Three Rivers Clay Works, will bring back their ceramics this year.


And finally, Boustead Bead Company will bring their beaded jewelry:


Another update is coming tomorrow!