Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Sheraden Development

This 1908 photo shows construction of the Sheraden Bridge (look at that man-power!). To the right you can see the Murphy building and straight ahead is the hill that Langley School now sits on. The photo, as well as other neat old documents, can be found online on the Historic Pittsburgh website, hosted by the University of Pittsburgh's Digital Research Library.

There you can also find some old maps that give a detailed snapshot of how the neighborhood was first developed. This plat map from 1896 depicts the early Sheraden street grid with its original names, as well as the initial property lines, some of which have owners listed (note William Sheraden's "Mansion"). What's especially interesting is that it also depicts the type of structures that were present at that time, like brick and stone buildings, wood frame buildings, stables and sheds, and greenhouses.

Back in those days, communities were largely planned and built by property owners and private developers. Now, most cities engage in a public planning process to determine future development and land uses. Right now, the City of Pittsburgh is in the midst of creating a comprehensive plan that addresses a wide variety of topics, like housing, open space, transportation, and urban design. Find out how you can take an active role in shaping the future of Sheraden by visiting the PlanPGH website!

Monday, March 25, 2013

Keeping Sheraden Safe

Recently a few Sheraden residents went out of their way to connect with neighborhood leaders from across the city to discuss ways to improve community safety.

In 2008, PCRG’s members expressed a need for resources to help them keep their neighborhoods safe. Responding to this neighborhood priority, PCRG has initiated the Safe Neighborhoods Network. Recognizing that crime is an issue that plagues all communities, and that the larger the network grows the more effective it is, Safe Neighborhoods is a free program open to leaders from all areas of Pittsburgh.

The meetings are a great way to learn about some of the best practices being used by the community to reduce crime across the city.

Sheraden resident Greg Hancock recounts the March 9 Safe Neighborhoods event:

"The guest speaker that morning was Robert Conroy from CeaseFirePA. In attendance were leaders representing various neighborhoods. The discussion focused mainly on gun control, like getting all hand guns registered and also how to get automatic/assault weapons off the streets. Bob was a wealth of knowledge and ideas on how we could start a grassroots movement to change gun laws in PA.

We also talked about how easy it is for anyone to get a non-permitted gun from any of the Gun and Knife shows that happen periodically in Pittsburgh. I found it amazing that any person could go from booth to booth at these events, purchasing parts for a hand gun, and then go home and order a firing pin on-line. The result: yet another non-permitted weapon on the street and, by law, it is legal to posses! The conversation moved to what it would take to have all the vendors at these shows licensed and require that every gun part to be permitted so that they could be tracked.
Law abiding citizens, such as myself, have all guns registered and permitted with the state.

Finally, we discussed the Mayor's "Block Watch in a Box" campaign to help residents keep an eye on their surroundings. I am hoping to find 6-8 other people in Sheraden that would be willing to take 1 week a month and keep an eye on the neighborhood. The best way to deter crime is to have a visual presence in the neighborhood.

All-in-all the meeting was a very positive experience.

I felt that the meeting brought us closer as a community and gave hope to overcoming the many challenges neighborhoods face on a regular basis. I look forward to the next meeting to get more insight and support as we move forward."

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Sheraden receives international visitors

Earlier today, PCRG hosted a group of 13 planning students and their professors visiting from the Technical University of Dortmund, Germany. Interested in learning about revitalization strategies being used in post-industrial American cities, the group braved the cold and wind and took a short walking tour of Sheraden. This allowed them to see first hand the efforts under way through PCRG's Reimagining Communities Initiative.

The group was visiting Pittsburgh by way of Youngstown, Ohio,  where they will be staying for two weeks to conduct a studio project that will provide initial ideas, information gathering, and best practice examples from the industrial Ruhr Valley region in Germany for the US 422 Corridor Study Area. They've also planned a similar day trip to Cleveland.

It was a lot of fun showing off some of the great things happening in Pittsburgh's neighborhoods to our new friends from Germany! They were especially impressed with Langley's architecture and the quality of some of the brick homes in the neighborhood.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Buy into Sheraden


Sheraden Homeownership Fair
Sunday, April 14
1pm to 3pm
Holy Innocents Parish Gymnasium
Ashlyn St. at Thornton St.

Learn about the organizations and programs working to help
existing and new homeowners in Sheraden.

Buying a house?
Selecting a realtor?
Securing financing with a bank?
Need help making home repairs?

Local experts will be on hand to answer your questions!


Free gifts and lunch for event attendees!
(while supplies last, first come first served)

For more information, please contact Steve Novotny from PCRG at snovotny@pcrg.org or by phone at 412.391.6732.

Friday, March 15, 2013

History of Sheraden

William Sheraden and family in front of the original farmhouse, still standing today on Bergman St.
Photo taken sometime in the late 1800s (maybe)

Sheraden has a really neat history going back to the 1850s. Starting out as farmland and vineyards, it's hard to imagine what life in Sheraden was like before developing into the moderately dense Pittsburgh community it is today. Although if you happen to tour the neighborhood in the warmer months, remnants of this humble agricultural legacy is continued on today by many proud homeowners who tend to their thriving flower and vegetable gardens.

In 1995, residents Dede Palombini and Diane Smihal put together a remarkably comprehensive article detailing Sheraden's beginnings. Continue reading below for a bit of a history lesson!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Leading by Example

Last night was yet another example of how resilient the Sheraden community really is.

It seems like a simple action: invite a few familiar faces to your home for snacks and conversation. But it's actions like this that can transform a neighborhood into a community. The motivation was obvious. Who doesn't want to live near neighbors you know and trust?

Encouraged by the potential she sees in her neighborhood, Debra Bailey (a resident, homeowner, and executive board member of the newly formed West End Alliance) graciously opened up her living room to 3 other women serious about investing in Sheraden. Along with staff from NeighborWorks and PCRG, the next hour and a half was spent discussing everything from homeownership to personal finances to some of the challenges that exist in the neighborhood and how residents can start to address them.

When it comes to neighborhood revitalization, such simplicity is easily and often overlooked, but the leadership and initiative that Miss Debra showed last night is critical to such efforts.

As she puts it, "this is my home, and I'm NOT going anywhere!"
This is Sheraden's story - Leadership, Initiative, Dedication, Resilience.