Fall colors in Polish Hill


Until this week, there was still a lot of green on the hillsides and around the neighborhood.  One of the spots of color was this vine on the Melwood retaining wall.


Now, the leaves are changing in earnest, and the color is spreading.  Here’s a few photos of fall scenes from the eastern side of the neighborhood.  Have a great weekend!


(Photos by Leslie Clague)

Call for volunteers: help weed and plant on Sunday, October 13


If you’re looking to get outside on Sunday, here’s a great way to do that and to help transform the Melwood Avenue gateway to the neighborhood.  The Student Conservation and neighborhood volunteers will be will be planting native perennials and getting the site ready for winter as part of an ongoing effort to create biodiversity.

This site has been the focus of a multi-year process to clear an overgrown, knotweed-covered hillside and reclaim the site as a public space.  Last year, 25 native trees were planted, and the work continues. For more information on this project, email valerie@phcapgh.org.

What comes after Sarney's?

Sarneys, at 3055 Brereton Street, a longtime Polish Hill establishment, is in the process of being sold.  The new owners, Francis Pope and Mark Baranowski, came to Polish Hill on July 29 for a public meeting to discuss their plans for the property and to answer resident’s questions.

Mark has been in the restaurant and bar business for over twenty years.   He bought the North Park Lounge in 1989 (there are two, in McCandless and Cranberry).  He also owns Bonnie and Clydes, and is in the process of opening up three more places in South Side, North Shore, and Murraysville.   The Polish Hill establishment is the first of his businesses to open in the city of Pittsburgh.  Mark and Francis Pope will be co-owners, although Francis will be here on a day-to-day basis.  Jennifer Youst, who will be the  bartender/assistant manager, also attended the public meeting.

What will happen here?  Francis and Mark said they change the name, probably to Pope’s Bar, but they didn’t plan to make drastic changes, preferring to keep the business running as a comfortable, neighborhood bar.  They said that nicer and bigger televisions will be added to make it more sports oriented.  There will be a larger food menu and maybe even Sunday brunches, if it seems that customers want that.  Some of the Sarney’s staff will stay on, too.

Sarney’s will close by the end of August, then the new owners will be doing some renovations, including a new floor, painting, and some facade work.  They said they hoped to re-open sometime in September.  The residents at the meeting asked lots of questions and came away feeling that the new owners would be a good fit for the neighborhood.

(Above:  the interior of Sarney’s.  Photo by Mark Knobil)

Lightning strikes the dome of the Immaculate Heart of Mary Church

During a fierce electrical storm yesterday, lightning struck on and near Polish Hill multiple times.  It  hit in the backyard of a house on Paulowna Street, then a few second later hit the very top of the main dome of the Immaculate Heart of Mary Church.

Some time later, people noticed smoke coming from the dome.  Fire trucks from different stations around the area quickly responded.  Residents lined the street, watching anxiously.

Firemen climbed up into the structure on top of the dome to fight the fire.

Here’s what it looked like from further away. (Photo by Carlea Cannon)

Slightly earlier, lightning also struck near the Iron city Brewery, knocking out a transformer by the Quick Stop on Liberty Avenue.  A photographer in the Steel Tower happened to get a picture of this strike (below).  The church dome is off to the right — click on the image to see it larger.

(Photo by Tim Betler, from Pittsburgh Magazine)

Read the Post-Gazette article about the lightning strike, or a Tribune-Review article that mentions the church, along with other storm damage around the area.

A glimpse inside an old neighborhood business


There aren’t many photos of the stores that used to line the streets of Polish Hill, and this is the first photo we’ve seen of the interior of a business.  This is Anton Jaworski’s butcher shop at Dobson and Hancock streets, the space that is now Lili Cafe.  The men in the picture, from left to right, are:  (unknown), Joe Jaworski (Anton’s son), Michael Anthony Jaworski (Anton’s eldest son) and back in the doorway is Anton Jaworski, in a suit.  Anton was born in 1870 and Michael Jaworski (right front) was born in 1899, so this photo might have been taken around 1930.

This building was also featured in the November 2010 issue of the Polish Hill Voice, in the article “True Crime Tales from Polish Hill” which tells the tale of a less-upstanding member of the community.  Here’s a link to that issue — the article is on page 6.

We were able to see this wonderful photo because Katie Jaworski, great great granddaughter of Anton, shared this photo with Carol Peterson of Pittsburgh House Histories.  Carol is a historian and researcher and author — she co-wrote Allegheny City, a book about the history of the North Side, with Steelers Chairman Dan Rooney.  Here’s an article about the book from the Post-Gazette.

Honoring a Polish Hill artist and craftsman from long ago


An article in the Post-Gazette today told of  the famous sculptures of stone lions that stood outside Dollar Bank on Fourth Avenue for 138 years.  Eroded from years of pollution, the lions were removed for conservation and returned to a spot of honor inside the bank.  New stone lions were sculpted and installed at a ceremony yesterday morning.


A German immigrant stone mason, Max Kohler, carved the original lions on site in 1871.  Max Kohler lived on Herron Avenue, in what is now Polish Hill, for most of his life.  He had eleven children with his wife Celestena.  Some of their descendents were present at the ceremony on Wednesday morning.

To find out about a long-ago resident and to get a little glimpse into Pittsburgh history,  read the Post-Gazette article.

(Top photo is from the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh.  Bottom photo from the Post-Gazette.)


Tuesday, June 4: Polish Hill Community Meeting

The June community meeting will be at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, June 4.  The meeting will take place on the lower level of the West Penn Recreation Center, at 450 30th Street.  Enter through the door on the side of the building.

This will be the last community meeting until September 3 — there will be no meetings in July and August.  At this meeting, we’ll have guest speakers from Zone 2 and Bike Pittsburgh.  Updates on current projects, announcements of upcoming events.  Residents will also have an opportunity to ask questions or share their concerns.  All are welcome to attend.

The Polish Hill May Day Parade meets a Polish Hill wedding party

The Polish Hill May Day parade is four years old, and it’s one of the best neighborhood events.  The parade travels from Gold Way down to West Penn Park.  We caught it as it came up to Brereton Street.

Some members of a wedding party were in Sarney’s bar getting pre-ceremony beers.  As the parade approached Brereton Street, they rushed out to get some photos as the marchers came up behind them.

Some of the marchers graciously agreed to pose with them.  The motorcycle girl at the end of the parade probably didn’t imagine that she was going to end up in somebody’s wedding album.

62 years ago, a view of Polish Hill steps by a famous photographer

Famous photojournalist Clyde Hare moved to Pittsburgh in 1950  and went to work at the Pittsburgh Photographic Library to help document the city’s urban renewal.  Later on, he worked for magazines such as Life, Fortune, Time, and the National Geographic.

Hare took this photo in April 1951, when Polish Hill was still named Herron Hill.  The photo is titled Steps Leading to Harding Street at the End of Herron Avenue Bridge — but the title — and the description in the Historic Pittsburgh Image Archive — are actually misleading.

The steps actually lead from Downing and Hancock Streets down to Herron.  Here are the same steps now — it even looks like same railings are still in place:

This photo was taken from higher up, but it’s the same angle of descent, same turn.  The houses that were there in 1951 are mostly gone, and the knotweed obscures the stone outcropping.  But if you’re one of the people that walk these stairs regularly, they’re immediately recognizable.