Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Even Hazelwood: A Study in Progressive Thought


Decrepit abandoned storefronts, crime and 120 blocks of shuttered steel mill. At first blanche, Hazelwood is a dump: drug-pushing thugs interspersed with pirogie-pushing grannies talkin 'bout Hazelwood's good old days. At second glance, it's still a dump. Cue fat-ass J. Barry Stout: "Boy, if we plough it under with an expressway, at least asphalt and concrete pilings don't commit crimes."

This Pittsburghese negativism persists in the face of tangible reality. Though there aren't NYC or DC style land-rushes transforming our ghettos overnight, Pittsburgh continues on with an inexplicable, incremental growth. Over a span of 25 years, Friendship and Shadyside became expensive, the Squirrel Cage lost its signature security bars, and the Southside features ample sushi and yoga. Go figure. Within a span of 24 months, the ratty-ass Penn Avenue corridor in Garfield came alive on Fridays, drug trafficking interspersed with slick hipsters who like their poetry-slams and coffee with the occasional pop of gunfire. Braddock, facing the same fate as Hazelwood, actually MARKETS itself as a gritty shithole. Dahn in the 15104.

Pittsburgh's population is shrinking, so logically there just aren't enough people to support all this activity. Too much art, too much gallery, too much coffee... its stealing from somewhere else! But how do you deny reality... none of Garfield's galleries, coffee and Vietnamese pho is subsidized. This quarter alone, a dozen 20 to 30 somethings bought houses with market loans in the heart of East Liberty's hard-knock residential neighborhood. Who knows where they're coming from... I just know they're not headed for Wexford.

Hazelwood and Braddock may never revive. But to write them off is to ignore national and local trends. Talk about ignoring national trends, who the hell is building highways through urban neighborhoods anymore?!? Especially highways that cut off ACCESS TO A RIVERFRONT?!? I don't know the magic that propels Garfield, but it might one day propel Hazelwood and Braddock. 10-20 years from now we will see that, and regret the Mon Fayette.

1 comment:

andrea said...

Word.