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The Strip District: History


Has The Strip always been "The Strip?"

Today, with a rough-and-tumble past and an elusive, tough-sounding name, it may be hard to believe that The Strip was "once a lovely wooded riverbank." (1)

How has The Strip changed over the years?

The Strip has seen use as "farmland," as a home for "mills and warehouses," as a "food market," and, most recently, as a focus "for the area's trendiest nightlife." (2)

By what other names has The Strip been known?"

Also known as "Bayardstown, O'Haraville, Northern Liberties [and] Denny's Bottoms," (3) The Strip District at one time was "an undesirable, heavily populated, residential-industrial district notable mainly for its marauding gangs and election day brawls." (4)

What are the borders of The Strip?

What defines the borders for any neighborhood isn't always firm and fast. In fact, The Strip has often been considered just an extension of Lawrenceville. However, in 1940 The Strip was described as "the narrow belt of land extending from Eleventh Street to Thirty-fourth Street, hemmed in on the south by the steep bluffs above the Pennsylvania Railroad tracks and on the north by the Allegheny River." (5)

What kind of changes are going on in The Strip today?

Today, "what's happening is urban homesteading on a commercial and professional level." (6)

Who were among the early settlers and landowners in The Strip?

"In 1773, James O'Hara, an Indian trader, came to Pittsburgh and bought land from Thomas Smallman in the area of [what is now] The Strip. O'Hara named his farm 'Springfield Plantation.'" (7)

What helped make The Strip a center for trade and commerce?

A terminal for goods transported on the Pennsylvania Canal, which connected Pittsburgh and Philadelphia, was built in 1829 at 11th Street. (8) Eventually, the Junction, Allegheny Valley and Pennsylvania railroads made the canal obsolete. (9)

What roots did the Pennsylvania Railroad put down in The Strip?

"The Pennsylvania Railroad's Roundhouse and some repair shops stood on 28th Street." (10)

What are some of the early origins of industry in The Strip?

"Industry became increasingly important to The Strip following its annexation to Pittsburgh in 1837. John Schoenbarger McCormick bought the Pittsburgh Blacking Mill and moved it from Downtown to the Strip District to be nearer the foundries and metal casting operations in the area of 25th Street and the Allegheny Valley Railroad." (11) In addition, other companies that started in The Strip (12): Pittsburgh Reduction Company (ALCOA) at 33rd and Smallman; Carnegie-Phipps, Company Union Mills at 29th and 30th Streets; and Westinghouse Machine Company at 24th and 25th Streets.

What are the origins of The Strip as the city's produce center?

"Adam's Market, located in the west end of The Strip, [became] Pittsburgh's produce center." (13) "In the 1930s, the produce would come in by rail and we'd sell right out of the refrigerated boxcars. Hucksters would come in horse and wagons to pick up their fruit and vegetables." (14)

How has the appearance of The Strip changed recently?

The character of The Strip continues to change: the Belgian Blocks that once paved Smallman Street have been covered over with asphalt. (15)

What does the future hold for The Strip?

Some see The Strip of tomorrow as "a district with more restaurants, bars, galleries and specialty shops...a warehouse district taken over by artists, restaurateurs and upscale haberdashers." (16)


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