Group on front stairs of Immaculate Heart of Mary Church

Neighborhood names:  From Springfield Farms to Herron Hill to Polish Hill

In the early nineteenth century, the hillside overlooking the valley along the Allegheny River was called Springfield Farms. Much of the property was owned by just a few prosperous English landowners. As the area became more urbanized and more working class, German and Irish immigrants settled here.

Mahoney family 1910s

The first Polish immigrants began to arrive in the late 1800s. By 1905, when the Immaculate Heart of Mary Church was built, an increasing percentage of residents were Polish. The neighborhood became known as Herron Hill. Irish, German and African- American families also lived here. Most residents were working class, many laboring in the steel mill or rail yards at the bottom of the hill.

Map from newsletter

During the following decades, residents often referred to Herron Hill as simply “the Hill.” The location became known as the Polish neighborhood in Pittsburgh. Although the population included a variety of races and ethnicities, the predominant group was Polish immigrants. Their culture was focused around the Immaculate Heart of Mary Church.

Around 1969 or 1970, residents petitioned the City to be recognized as a separate neighborhood known as Polish Hill. There are still residents of Polish heritage living here today, but the neighborhood is increasingly diverse.

Polish Hill Archive honors neighborhood history

In 2009, the Polish Hill Civic Association started the Polish Hill Archive to honor and preserve the history of the neighborhood.  While the collection includes maps, newspaper articles and objects, the archive is mainly digital. It includes photos that current and former residents have shared with us. We scan the photos and return them. Here is a selection of photos from the Polish Hill Archive.