Thursday, October 31, 2013

Neighborhoods, Old and New

We love Pittsburgh's many neighborhoods. Each one has its own character and feel. This is something Pittsburgh has that Chattanooga didn't. Chattanooga was one continuous place; there was nothing to discover, no interesting neighborhoods tucked away to stumble on. I think Pittsburgh's prolific number of neighborhoods has something to do with all the hills and rivers here; neighborhoods were somewhat dictated by geography. In our quest for the perfect spot to buy our first home, we've been crisscrossing the city on our free days, learning roads and how places connect in a way I never understood in all my years of living here. I'm thankful to Dave for opening up the city to me---having a passenger with a GPS and a good sense of direction has helped helped turn Pittsburgh from a labyrinth to a navigable place for me. 

We spent a day exploring the far East side of town. While we decided it's not the place for us to live, it was fun to check out. Being in Glassport was like being in a different city altogether. It has not recovered from the closing of the steel mills and the evacuation of industry and has a really gritty, tired feel. Also, it is literally built into the side of a cliff; I would not want to navigate the roads in the winter! 

We were fascinated by this old building in the middle of town. It was most recently used as an American Legion Club according to the sign out front, but has clearly fallen into serious disrepair. 

The vines overtaking the building came in a variety of colors. 

Oddly, it looks like the building was just left to crumble one day. Dave stuck his camera in a window, and there were books, National Geographic's from the 1980's (which we had to fight the urge to take with us), and stacks of other paper ephemera. 

The view from another window was even more grim. It looks like there was perhaps a fire; walls and doors were falling down, and objects were strewn about. 

Here, the floor had caved, still covered in chairs and tables used for meetings. It was a very strange, post-apocolyptic feeling. 

In its heyday, this would have been a stunning building. 

Walking around felt like being in some sort of time warp. 

We stumbled on this old church a few weeks later while driving through McKee's Rocks. 

I thought the juxtaposition of the ancient structure and the modern, light-up billboard was strange. 

I liked the clock on the church; while we were there, the bell tower struck 11:00.  I like thinking about a past time when the town would have kept time and determined whether they were late for a meeting or work according to the sound of the church bells. 

Sadly, the building was in need of repairs, but the details were fabulous. 

The structure had a good energy about her; it was as if she were thanking us for paying attention when her bells chimed 11:00. 

Check out this entryway! 

On the completely opposite side of the scale are these Glass Loft apartments on Penn Avenue in the Garfield/ Friendship neighborhood. It is crazy to see how much this area is being revitalized; when I used to live in Pittsburgh, this street was sketchy at best, and I always avoided driving down it. Now, it is populated by artists, coffee shops, a yoga studio, and the original anchors that drove the revitalization, vegan cafe Quiet Storm and the Pittsburgh Glass Center (more on that to come!) 

The architecture of this building is certainly neat. I believe it is also super green and eco-firendly; the sign advertises a tax credit for those who choose to live here. 

While this has nothing to do with architecture, I had to share this photo from the Yoga Hive, located in the Glass Lofts building. Using local Pittsburgh-ese language, the sign greets visitors with the studio's signature, "Namaste, Yinz." For those of you who don't live here, "Yinz" is like the Pittsburgh version of "Y'all." Dave was quite surprised to find Pittsburghers really do have their own language! And if you do live here, the Yoga Hive is having a special evening of Yoga and Kirtan tomorrow evening from 6-7:30. I haven't been yet, but I'm going to try to make it out for tomorrow. 


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