RBCoYP Summit Update: Events!

If you’ve registered for our Pittsburgh summit, you should have received an email on Thursday outlining all the great tour options available next weekend. We want to recap these options and share with those who are unable to attend what we’ve planned for our first meetup!

Friday, April 8
Rust Belt Coalition of Young Preservationists Launch Party!

boggs mansion
The Inn on the Mexican War Streets, photo by Dan Speicher
With the help of the National Trust for Historic Preservation and the Mexican War Streets Society, the RBCoYP is launching the PGH Summit with a bang at the Inn on the Mexican War Streets Bed & Breakfast! The Inn is housed in the historic Boggs Mansion (1888) in Pittsburgh’s Northside.

We’re starting at 7pm, so join us when you get to town (no rush!) to learn about the mansion’s rich history and meet your newest preservation friends! With 70 people from 6 states attending RBCoYP’s Pittsburgh Summit, this party will be a great time to relax and mingle before a weekend exploring all Pittsburgh has to offer.

AND THAT’S NOT ALL! In honor of the craft breweries and distilleries that are playing a role in the revitalization of cities large and small throughout the Rust Belt, we are holding the first ever #beersavesplaces Rust Belt BYOB Craft Beer Competition!

Learn more about the competition and how you can feature your favorite brew (be it beer, cider, or soda) from your home town!

And if you opted to take care of your own lodging for the weekend and still haven’t booked accommodations, please consider the Inn on the Mexican War Streets! RBC attendees are being offered a special rate of $135/night, which includes breakfast.


 

Saturday, April 9
A Mexican War Streets Walkabout, 11a – 1pm

mexican war streets

Join all the Rust Belt Coalition Summit attendees for a walk around the Mexican War Streets, one of Pittsburgh’s favorite National Historic Districts.

The neighborhood dates back to 1848, around the time of the Mexican War, and many of the streets – Buena Vista, Monterey, Palo Alto, Resaca, Sherman, and Taylor – are named after battles or generals of the war. You’ll see some of the best examples of Pittsburgh row houses, wonderful community gardens, a firehouse that will be converted into a craft brewery, a sanctuary for endangered writers across the world, and a local gem known as Randyland.

Afternoon Breakout Tours!!

We asked, you responded! Thanks to all who took our survey, and here are our winners! If you are joining us in PGH, register today to reserve your spot! Sadly, you can only go on one of these three tours. Unless you’ve invented time travel… in that case, we have many more questions for you!

“Crossroads of the World”: A Hill District Foot Tour / 2:30pm – 5:30pm

From jazz musicians to photographers to playwrights, Pittsburgh’s Hill District neighborhood provided a cultural melting pot where artistic genius was fostered. Today, demolition by neglect and redevelopment threaten many culturally important sites throughout the Hill.

Terri Baltimore, Director of Community Outreach at the Hill House Association, will take us on a walk through the neighborhood highlighting and telling stories about the buildings and (more importantly) the people of “Little Harlem.” Space for this tour is limited to 18 people, so register today!

Northside -> Downtown -> Mt Washington Bike Tour / 2:30pm – 5:30pm

Downtown. Central Business District. Golden Triangle. Whatever you want to call it, we’re going to bike it! And when we’re finished, we’ll take a furnicular up to the top of Mount Washington and see the best-known view of the city.

We’re renting bikes so you can leave yours at home, but don’t forget your bike helmet! You can expect to bike about 6 miles on this tour, and don’t worry – we’re staying in one of the few flat areas of Pittsburgh! Space for this tour is limited to 20 people, so register today!

Steppin’ Out: An Urban Hike on the City Steps / 2:30pm – 5:30pm

The system of Pittsburgh City Steps are the city’s most unique form of transportation, and offer some of the most stunning views of the surrounding areas.

You can expect to hike and step about 3 miles on this adventure. We’ll end at Wigle Barrelhouse and Whiskey Garden, where we’ll get a tour of the Barrelhouse and soon-to-open Ciderhouse. Many thanks to Young Preservationists Association of Pittsburgh for sponsoring the tour!

Pick your favorite of the three and register today!


 

Sunday, April 10
A Sunday with Carrie / 11am – 1pm

carrie furnace
Carrie Furnace, photograph by David DiCello
The Carrie Blast Furnace is one of the few still-standing furnaces from the days of Big Steel. Part of the Homestead Steel Works (of Homestead Strike Fame), it was one of the largest mills in the United States and one piece of Andrew Carnegie’s steel empire.

Join all of the Rust Belt Coalition Summit attendees on a tour of the Furnace, led by Rivers of Steel’s knowledgeable guides. Cost is $15 per person and can be paid at time of registration or at the door. Please register here for this special event.

After the tour, those who can’t get enough of the RBCoYP can join us in Braddock at Brew Gentleman for a little weekend wind-down.

Packing List

  • A rain jacket, umbrella, or both! Let’s get real here people; it’s April in Pittsburgh.
  • A 6-pack or growler of your favorite local beer, cider, or soda!
  • If you want to go on the bike tour, bring your helmet! We’ll have some extra on hand just in case.
  • Bring fun, because we won’t have any!

That’s about it! We can’t wait to see you next weekend! And if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact us at rbc@youngpreservationists.org

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RBCoYP PGH Summit Update

For those of you who have registered for first meeting of the Rust Belt Coalition of Young Preservationists, here is an update! If you haven’t registered, please do!

Our home base for the weekend will be Pittsburgh’s Northside, specifically the neighborhoods of Manchester, the Mexican War Streets, and East Deutschtown. Check out the yellow markers on the map in A Beginner’s Guide to Pittsburgh, Part 2 for an idea of what the heck we’re talking about.

And we still have space! Pittsburgh YPA members and allies are opening up their homes to host out-of-town guests. We’ll be getting in touch with you directly to follow up about placing you in a YPA house or helping you find private accommodations, depending on what you indicate on your registration. If you told us you can find your own accommodations, then stay tuned for schedule updates to find out when and where to meet up with us! The weekend begins on 7pm on Friday, April 8th, or whenever you get into Pittsburgh.

SPEAKING OF MEETUPS! We are planning lots of great things to do! The purpose of the first meeting of the Rust Belt Coalition is to get to know each other, and we’re going to have a lot of fun doing it. Plan on getting together for food and drinks and chit chat on Friday and Saturday night, and breaking off into groups for excursions around Pittsburgh on Saturday afternoon (while you’re at it, take our quick survey to let us know what you’d like to do!) Rivers of Steel Heritage Area will be offering a guided tour of Carrie Furnace, a former blast furnace site, for the entire group on Sunday.

And, of course, if you have any questions, you can contact us at rbc@youngpreservationists.org.

 

A Beginner’s Guide to Pittsburgh, Part 2

A Sneak Peak into the RBC PGH Summit

By Mike Panzitta – Young Preservationists Association of Pittsburgh

Not familiar with the Steel City, but want to have a voice in what we do in April at the first meeting of the Rust Belt Coalition of Young Preservationists? Here’s a quick breakdown of potential activities we’ve pulled together so you can make an informed vote about what you want to see most! When you’re done reading, take our quick survey and weigh in on the itinerary!

Downtown to Mt Washington Bike Tour

Downtown. Central Business District. Golden Triangle. Whatever you want to call it, it’s the economic hub of the region and the historic location of Fort Pitt and the town that would grow up to be Pittsburgh. While modern skyscrapers might catch your eye, there are plenty of historic sites to check out. Flat and very bikeable, we can cover a lot of ground on two wheels. Mount Washington is right across the Monongahela from Downtown and offers fantastic views of the city and its rivers. We’ll pick up bikeshare bikes from the Northside, head over to tour Downtown, drop off the bikes, and then take the incline up to Mount Washington. What’s an incline? It’s an awesome little trolley that runs up the side of the mountain, and a great way to get up to the summit.

Pittsburgh City Steps Urban Hike (Location to Be Determined)

Pittsburgh is one of the hilliest cities in the United States, and boasts both the steepest public street and the most public steps in the country (eat your heart out, San Francisco). Some hillsides are so steep that there aren’t formal streets: the steps are considered the street itself, and the houses are only accessible from the city steps! We’re planning to go on an urban hike up and down the city steps, taking in vistas that rival Mount Washington and talking about the topography that created Pittsburgh’s many neighborhoods. The City Steps were a YPA Top Ten Preservation Opportunity in 2015, so this is an activity near and dear to our hearts.

“Crossroads of the World”: Hill District Foot Tour

Just east of Downtown, the Hill District is one of the most storied areas of the city. Before some disastrous urban planning mistakes devastated the neighborhood, it was home to a thriving, vibrant middle-class African-American community, among other diverse ethnic and racial groups. From jazz musicians to photographers to playwrights, the Hill provided a cultural melting pot where artistic genius was fostered. However, redevelopment threatens many culturally important sites throughout the Hill. Local historian Terri Baltimore has offered to accompany us on a walking tour through the neighborhood highlighting and telling stories about the buildings and (more importantly) the people of “Little Harlem.”

Blue-Collar to Brooklyn: Lawrenceville Foot Tour

Lawrenceville is one of those things that gets mentioned all the time in any national press about Pittsburgh (right after they talk about the french fry sandwich thing…), and for good reason. In a very short time, it has transformed from a working-class neighborhood during steel’s heyday, to a disinvested section of town after the mills moved out, to the “it” area of the 21st century, while preserving almost all of its historic architecture. Butler Street, its main drag, is full of boutiques, bars, and popular restaurants while supporting antique brick rows behind. Lawrenceville is a living example of the active urban transitions happening in Pittsburgh.

Vacant not Blighted: Wilkinsburg Foot Tour

Wilkinsburg is the definition of a community with “good bones.” The architecture in this borough just outside the City of Pittsburgh is phenomenal, especially in its business district. Served by the city’s East Busway and bordering some great Pittsburgh neighborhoods, it is in a prime location. But Wilkinsburg has seen tough times recently. Lack of a sufficient tax base has caused it to begin sharing services with the city. But there is hope – young artists and artisans have been moving into the area to start up businesses and buy their own homes, and a “Vacant House Tour” highlighted properties which, with some work, could make for fantastic homes. We’re going to take the Busway out and explore this borough with a bright future.

Carrie Furnace Tour

The Carrie Blast Furnace is one of the few still-standing furnaces from the days of Big Steel. Part of the Homestead Steel Works (of Homestead Strike Fame), it was one of the largest mills in the United States and part of Andrew Carnegie’s steel empire. We got a slot reserved for us to go on a tour of the site, led by a Rivers of Steel tour guide. This activity is $15/person.

Rust Belt Capitol: A Stop in Braddock, PA

After the Carrie Furnace Tour, we’ll be hanging out in nearby Braddock, a steel town that has lost 90% of its population from its peak. A neighborhood on its way back, it has amazing history, fantastic buildings, and a really cool mayor. We’re going to check out some of the sites in this great borough until you decide to head home.

PGH Summit Survey

The first meeting of the Rust Belt Coalition of Young Preservationists is a little over a month away, and we are toiling away here at Headquarters trying to make sure you have a good time! But we want your input too. Fill out the below survey to let us know what you’d like to see during your visit in Pittsburgh!

Not familiar with the city? Check out A Beginner’s Guide to Pittsburgh, Part 2, and you’ll know just what to expect for each event!

A Beginner’s Guide to Pittsburgh, Part 1

By Mike Panzitta – Young Preservationists Association of Pittsburgh

BGtPP1

So you want to learn a little about Pittsburgh before you make your big journey to the first meeting of the Rust Belt Coalition of Young Preservationists in April? I don’t blame you…the City of Steel can be intimidating for a first- (or even fortieth-) time visitor. There are formidable obstacles like rivers, bridges, and tunnels, and more neighborhoods with the word “hill” in them than you can shake a fist at. Let’s start with two of the basics: Rivers and Neighborhoods.

Rivers

Pittsburgh is defined by its rivers. Our rivers are the reason Pittsburgh was able to grow from Fort Pitt in the mid-18th century to an industrial giant in the mid-20th century, and they shape a singular topography that confuses even the most geographically-inclined residents. There are three of them, so repeat after me – Allegheny (“al-uh-GEY-nee”), Monongahela (“muh-non-guh-HEEL-uh”), and Ohio (“Ohio”).

Hydrologically, the Monongahela (colloquially known as “the Mon”) flows into the Allegheny to form the Ohio. If you want to know more about the rivers, ask me (Mike)…I’ll bore you to death with both fun and less-than-fun facts.

Vocab word of the day: “Confluence.” It’s the meeting of two or more bodies of water. In Pittsburgh, we call our confluence “The Point,” and it’s the home of Point State Park. Point State Park was the site of two of Pittsburgh’s original structures – Fort Pitt and Fort Duquesne – and was declared a National Historic Landmark just one year after the Park was built in 1974. It’s also home to a much-loved and recently renovated fountain, the marketing campaign for which is one of our favorites (“If there is no fountain, what’s The Point?”).  Fun fact – one of the alternate plans for the park was designed by some guy who went by the name Frank Lloyd Wright. The plan was rejected by the city…sorry, Frank!

Neighborhoods

This section title is a bit misleading since there are something like 92 neighborhoods in Pittsburgh city-proper, and even some of those are questionable (I’m looking at you, Hays). But I’ll run you through a few of the areas you’d expect to encounter on this visit so you can act as cool as an old pro.

The Golden Triangle is what we call Downtown (pronounced “Dahn-tahn”). It’s sandwiched between the Allegheny and the Mon, which determined the original triangular street grid of the city. It’s home to incredible architecture, and is currently experiencing a boom in residential occupancy like many downtown areas across the country. The tip of the Golden Triangle is the Point!

The North Side is what we call pretty much all the neighborhoods north of the Allegheny. Formerly a separate entity known as Allegheny City, it was annexed by the City of Pittsburgh in 1907 (think: Brooklyn). The North Side has an abundance of historic buildings and neighborhoods. It’s where most of you will be staying, so you’ll get to know it really well!

Mount Washington, formerly “Coal Hill,” is technically not a mountain. It’s at the elevation the land was at before the rivers came through and made it really tough to bike around, probably on purpose. If you look at a photo of Downtown Pittsburgh, there’s like an 86% chance it was taken from Mount Washington. The riverside slopes of Mount Washington are also home to these funky things called “inclines” that take you directly from the waterfront to the top of the mountain, which will afford you one of the best-known views of Pittsburgh and surrounding areas (more on what inclines are and why they exist in future posts).

The South Side is sandwiched between Mount Washington and the Monongahela and is known for a crazy high concentration of bars and restaurants. It’s a pretty common place for newly-minted 21-year-olds to go out, but there’s a lot of great less-frequented places, and the residential section is full of beautiful intact sets of historic row houses. Our row houses are one of our pride and joys! The South Side Slopes, though they sound like a ski resort, also have some of the best views of the city.

The East End lies…wait for it…east of downtown and is home to probably the greatest variety of neighborhoods. Oakland, the Hill District, Lawrenceville, and East Liberty are all prominent neighborhoods in the East End, some of which are experiencing a lot of gentrification. YPA has advocated to preserve more and more sites in the East End in recent years, and we have also seen some great examples of adaptive reuse (such as the Union Project) and some disappointing demolitions (like 6012-6018 Penn Ave).

Well, that’s enough to digest for now. See you next time, when I cover the Inclines and City Steps!

View from the City Steps

By Mike Panzitta – Young Preservationists Association of Pittsburgh

With the fantastic weather this weekend, a couple buddies and I decided to climb up some of the City Steps here on the North Side and take in the views of Pittsburgh. We ended up climbing much higher, but I don’t want to use up all my best material this early. You can read more about the Pittsburgh City Steps on YPA PGH’s blog.

Excited to show Pittsburgh off to everyone at the RBC Pittsburgh Summit in April!

CitySteps.JPG