Reinventing The American City

A city rebuilds itself with new industry, new energy and new people after a generation of decline. But what happens to those who endured the tough times? Are they lifted up, or pushed out? How can newcomers and established residents build a common vision of progress? Or is creative tension part of what pushes a city to a better future? Here are some of the reports from 90.5 WESA about some of the questions and challenges our city is encountering along the revival road.

For more coverage of recovery and revival throughout Pennsylvania, visit our partner, Keystone Crossroads.

Davelyn/Google Maps

Huffington Post recently named Pittsburgh one of the top ten cities that techies should move to. Last year, Zagat named Pittsburgh its top food city. And Vogue just ran an article about the Ace Hotel in East Liberty.

Josh Raulerson / 90.5 WESA

As planning continues for Hazelwood’s new Almono development, city officials are expecting an uptick in commuters traveling from the neighborhood to Oakland, the heart of the city’s eds and meds economy.

Can Homewood Rebound From Decades Of Neglect?

Mar 2, 2016
Mark Nootbaar / 90.5 WESA

Pittsburgh has seen an economic turnaround in recent years, but not every neighborhood has been part of the renaissance. 

Homewood has seen more population loss than any neighborhood and economic development for decades has been nearly nonexistent. Its reputation has become one of crime and poverty, which plays out regularly on the nightly news, with reports of murders in the 1-square-mile neighborhood on the northeastern corner of the city.

But when you ask William Baker, he sees a community on the rise.

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

  Last May, Governor Tom Wolf held a news conference in front of the Camp Hill state prison in Cumberland County.

He was joined by Corrections Secretary John Wetzel and a handful of district attorneys, all pushing for a $120 million funding increase — not for prisons — but for preschool.

“These are the first steps to what I have as a four-year goal to fully fund early childhood education,” Wolf said.

Shaping Pittsburgh Into A Great American City

Mar 1, 2016
NPR

Weekend All Things Considered host Michel Martin is coming to Pittsburgh. NPR Presents Going There with Michel Martin: Reinventing the American City will be an evening of conversation and performance at the August Wilson Center. Joining us with a preview of the event is NPR's  Michel Martin.

Larkin Page-Jacobs / WESA

In the Monongahela Valley, communities that saw their economies boom with the steel and manufacturing industry in the last century continue to feel the bust from those industries’ decline. But as Pittsburgh’s economic position strengthens, many Mon Valley towns are looking for ways to spark their own revitalization, and zoning plays a key role in that endeavor.

Ryan Loew / PublicSource

    

The street where Carol Speaks grew up is only blocks from where her grandson Antwann died.

At 19 years old, he was shot 17 times, according to Carol, in front of witnesses just down the street from Homewood’s Westinghouse Academy.

Google Maps

 

Some of the remaining residents of the Penn Plaza Apartments in East Liberty have formed a crisis committee, and are asking for more time, as the deadline for relocation nears.

About 30 units in the apartment complex remain occupied, and residents have until Feb. 28 to vacate. 

Join the World Affairs Council and 90.5 WESA on Wednesday, February 10 at the Community Broadcast Center for a panel discussion on the beliefs and practices of Islam, which is practiced by 1.6 billion people around the world and is often misunderstood by non-Muslims. Hear from local Muslim community leaders as they share their unique perspectives and experiences about what it means to be Muslim, as well as challenges facing Muslims in America.

Ryan Loew / Public Source

From 2010 through 2015, the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police investigated 311 homicides. Only 163 of those have been cleared with an arrest or other explanation for the death. This week WESA, working with our content partner Public Source has begun airing the multi-part series, The Aftermath of Murder, on unsolved African American homicides in Pittsburgh. Joining us to discuss the series are WESA reporter Megan Harris and Public Source reporter Jeffrey Benzing. 

Ryan Loew / PublicSource

  Monica Hawkins can still laugh at her son Donté’s sense of humor as she replays it nearly four years later on YouTube. And she can smile at the uncanny resemblance her grandson Jaiden has to his dad. The same smile. The same mischievous energy.

But fresh tears come when she recounts the night Donté died at age 20, the helplessness she felt at the scene, and the hole his loss leaves in their family.

Pgh Murals / Twitter

After viewing the results of the workplace diversity survey, what can employers and employees do to make Pittsburgh a more inclusive and diverse region both in the workplace and in the community? Dignity and Respect, Inc. founder and CEO Candi Castleberry Singleton says the conversation in Pittsburgh echoes much of what her organization stands for: action and commitment. 

Pittsburgh Today

People of color who live in the city are significantly less likely to recommend Pittsburgh and say race plays a more significant role in their jobs than their white counterparts. 

That was the finding of a survey done by the University Center for Social and Urban Research at the University of Pittsburgh. It’s called the Pittsburgh Regional Diversity Survey.

App Connects Homeless Youth With Services

Jan 13, 2016
r.nial bradshaw / flickr

 

A new app, in development, could connect homeless youth with services ranging from mental health care to a meal.

 

The Homeless Children’s Education Fund worked with Bob Firth, founder of Informing Design, to create the Big Burgh Homeless Services app. Pulling out his iPhone, Firth shows how a prototype works.

 

Michel Martin: Going There Comes to Pittsburgh

Jan 12, 2016

Dynamic Conversation about reinventing the American City to take place at the August Wilson Center March 8

Njaimeh Njie / Cafe Con Leche

A new residency program is aiming to bring more Latino artists to Pittsburgh and diversify the city's art scene. 

Latinos make up about 17 percent of the country’s population, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, but in 2010, only accounted for 2 percent of Pittsburgh’s population.

Tara Sherry-Torres, founder of Cafe Con Leche, which works to bring together the city's Latino community, said Pittsburgh's not on par with the growing Latino populations seen in other major metropolitan cities.

Tony Alter / Flickr

Nine University of Notre Dame students will spend two days sleeping and volunteering in homeless shelters throughout their native city for school.

The one-credit, winter course aims to teach students about the complexities of urban poverty through an overnight “urban plunge” this week.

Organizers said 150 students will participate in 25 cities around the country. In Pittsburgh, students plan to visit organizations like the North Side's Pleasant Valley Men’s Shelter (male students only) and the Catholic Charities Free Health Care Center located Downtown, among others.

Section 8 Vouchers Can Help Low-Income Renters, But Finding Housing Is Difficult

Dec 23, 2015
Newsworks

 

Reuben Sumpter has lived in the East Liberty neighborhood of Pittsburgh for decades. At first he lived in an apartment tower that served low-income people. That high-rise, the East Mall, was demolished. Even in the early 2000s, when the neighborhood’s revival was just starting to show, there were concerns that fewer affordable units would replace the dense high rise.

Paul Chamberlain / Flickr

Pittsburgh's Department of City Planning has proposed the use of a zoning tool called an Interim Planning Overlay District, or IPOD, to harness greater public participation in determining the future use of its riverfronts.

Shores wrapping from Hazelwood to the Strip District, across the North Shore and along the South Side have transformed in recent years from industrial hubs to places to live, work, shop and play.

Jennifer England / Pink Coat Communications

An Allegheny County judge has struck down Pittsburgh’s mandate that employers provide paid sick days to employees. 

Erika Beras / 90.5 WESA

When students Bishal Rai, Arpun Khadka and Gabriel Sahij walk into Concord Elementary School in Carrick, a welcome sign greets them in English, Spanish and Nepali. 

Mark Moz / Flickr

Pittsburgh City Council on Wednesday gave preliminary approval to the rental property registration program, which was first introduced more than a year ago.

Larkin Page-Jacobs / WESA

Pittsburgh’s East Liberty neighborhood is changing. Once considered by many to be a dangerous and undesirable place to live, the community has seen its popularity grow, and at least one new business is hoping to be inclusive of Pittsburgh residents, both new and long established.

Ryan Loew / 90.5 WESA

City Councilman Ricky Burgess is pushing a pair of bills that he said would empower people in some of the city’s most vulnerable neighborhoods to guide economic and community development.

Jason Roth / Save Enright Parklet community group

East Liberty residents are calling for a public hearing on the future of Enright Parklet after the Pittsburgh Planning Commission voted last month to rezone the park and the adjacent property on which currently sits the Penn Plaza apartment complex.

Allen Dieterich-Ward is an associate professor of history at Shippensburg University and the author of Beyond Rust: Metropolitan Pittsburgh and the Fate of Industrial America. The book comes out this month and looks at how industry built the Pittsburgh region; how the rethinking and large-scale redevelopment of the city after World War II remade the city; and how post-industrial Pittsburgh is shaping up.  

J. Scott Applewhite / AP File Photo

Leaders and community members released a local “playbook” on Friday reflecting how Pittsburghers can best harness their collective efforts to meet President Barack Obama’s challenge to become a My Brother’s Keeper Community.

Liz Reid / 90.5 WESA

It’s been nearly two years since a Shop ‘n Save grocery store opened on Centre Avenue in the Hill District. For decades, the neighborhood was considered a food desert, which the federal government defines as an area where residents lack access to healthy, nutritious foods, such as fruits and vegetables and whole grains.

90.5 WESA Community Listening Sessions

Oct 6, 2015

90.5 WESA will be conducting Community Listening Sessions in Homewood, Cranberry, and Hazelwood in January and February, 2016.   The events will focus on residents' stories about their communities, and their concerns, challenges, and celebrations.  The sessions will be recorded for archival purposes, but not for broadcast.  

Liz Reid / 90.5 WESA

It’s no secret that Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto is big on innovation. He transformed the city’s Computer Information Systems department into the Department of Innovation and Performance and hired the city’s first Chief Innovation Officer, Debra Lam.

But Lam said that when the mayor’s team started looking around at the most innovative cities in the world, they found that they were also some of the most exclusive.

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