The Hill District: History
What are the early origins of what is today known as "The Hill
- [The Hill District] "began as Farm Number Three, owned by a grandson of
William Penn and sold two centuries ago to Gen. Adamson Tannehill, a
Revolutionary War veteran, for $20 an acre." (1)
When did The Hill begin to be residential?
- [In the late 1840s] "Thomas Mellon bought a tract of farmland on the slopes
nearest the city. He subdivided the tract into smaller, city-sized plots,
selling them at a tidy profit. This began the Hill's development
as a settled community." (2) "The
Hill's first residents were well-to-do." (3)
What are some of the names by which The Hill has been
- "In the early days of Pittsburgh, The Hill District was known as
Part of The Hill was also known as "Haiti." (5) It is common to divide The Hill
into Lower, Middle and Upper. The Upper Hill has been known as Sugartop.
What spurred demographic changes on The Hill?
- "With the great expansion of population after the Civil War and the
introduction of trolley service, residents sought new homes further from
the city." (7)
What ethnic groups have called The Hill home?
- "Jewish immigrants comprised the first group to replace the original settlers.
Between 1870 and 1890, great numbers arrived from Europe's ghettos. After
the Jews came the Italians, the Syrians, the Greeks, and the Poles. Blacks
began arriving from the South between 1880 and 1890." (8)
What brought African-Americans to The Hill?
- "During the years leading to World War I and after...Blacks from the South...were urged
to come by industry recruiters who also promised relief from the segregation laws of
their birthplace...Blacks continued to come to Pittsburgh and The Hill District through
the 1960s." (9)
What kind of perceptions of The
Hill led to its redevelopment?
- In 1943, George E. Evans, a member of City Council, wrote that
"approximately 90 per cent of the buildings in the area are sub-standard
and have long outlived their usefulness, and so there would be no social
loss if they were all destroyed." (10)
In 1957, during the
bulldozing for redevelopment, it was remarked that "The Hill...was
completely worn out, like an old pair of shoes that has gone the last
How did redevelopment affect the Lower
- "In September 1955, the federal government approved the Lower Hill
Redevelopment plan, making available $17.4 million in loans and grants.
Ninety-five acres were slated for clearing, with the demolition of the first
of 1,300 structures to be razed set for June 1956. Redevelopment displaced
over 8,000 residents; 1,239 black families, 312 white. Of these, 35%
public housing communities, 31% to private rentals, 8% bought homes. About
90 families refused to move and ended up in substandard housing. Relocatees
received little relocation compensation, with minimal benefits coming from
the federal government." (12)
What was a major component of a redeveloped Lower
- "Construction of the Civic Arena levelled
dozens of city blocks in the heart of the community." (13)
Was redevelopment for better or for
- "Even were one to overlook the devastating social impact of the
Hill redevelopment, its
success could only be judged as minor." (14)
What were the immediate results of
the riots in The Hill District
following the assassination of Dr.
Martin Luther King, Jr. in 1968?
- "The riots began on April 5, 1968--the day after Martin Luther King
and lasted until April 12. That week of rage saw 505 fires, $620,000 in
property damage, one death and 926 arrests." (15)
How has The Hill been a focus for
- "During the 1930s and 1940s, Rudy Vallee and Paul Whiteman came to the
community after performances at Downtown theaters and clubs to hear
black musicians perform." (16)
"Later, black musicians like Ramsey Lewis, Oscar Peterson, Cannonball
Adderly and others entertained in the Hill District at the old Hurricane
Lounge or the Crawford Grill." (17) "At one time, you could walk down
Centre Avenue and hear the bands playing blocks away." (18)
In what years were the Pittsburgh
Crawfords Negro National League Champions?
- 1933, 1935, 1936. (19)
In what years were the Homestead
Grays Negro National League Champions?
- 1937-45, 1948. (20)
What is "Crawford Square?"
- "The largest residential redevelopment effort undertaken in
Pittsburgh in the last 30 years, Crawford Square eventually will offer nearly
500 units. The three-phase construction plan will cost more than
$55 million; the first phase, under way, will cost $19.8 million." (21)
What agencies are involved in "Crawford Square?"
- "The 18.5-acre site is a teamwork development effort by the
Urban Redevelopment Authority, Hill District Project Area Committee and
Hill District Community Development Corporation. The developer" [is
McCorack Baron Management Services]. (22)