Allison Hill (Harrisburg)
||This article is written like a travel guide rather than an encyclopedic description of the subject. (April 2008)|
||This article possibly contains original research. (April 2008)|
Allison Hill (also known as The Hill) is one of the oldest neighborhoods in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, in the United States. It is located directly east of downtown Harrisburg on a bluff overlooking the older original borough (now city) along the Susquehanna River. The Hill comprises many sub-neighborhoods with nicknames such as "The Ville" and the "Third Ward".
Allison Hill encompasses the Mount Pleasant Historic District. The neighborhood consists of single family homes, apartments, small businesses, and townhomes. Most of the architecture is brick, with Italianate, Victorian, or Federalist stylings.
Many of the homes on The Hill offer views of the Capitol rotunda from their upper stories. The neighborhood is also home to many magnificent stone churches--in some areas there is a church on every corner. Drive down Market Street in the springtime and you will notice beautiful gardens tended by St Francis Church and the Silence of Mary Home. In times past, the homes in the neighborhood were known for having beautiful gardens, and so many people grew grapes that in the fall when the grapes were harvested, residents would shut down the streets and make wine. Many homes still have the same ancient grapevines in their backyards.
The neighborhood is also dotted with murals, some hidden and others placed in full view of the main roads. Sylvan Heights Mansion, which is now occupied by the YWCA, and serves as housing for homeless women and children who are victims of domestic violence, sits on the hill and overlooks downtown.
As of 2004, 6,003 people were living in Allison Hill. The majority are low income and one third are under the age of 18.  The many cultures represented in Allison Hill include West African, Vietnamese, Indonesian, diverse Latin American, African-American, and European-American populations. The residents themselves are also diverse in interest: The Hill is home to many businesspeople, as well as individuals active in the arts and social justice.
The Hill is home to Reservoir Park, where summer festivals to commemorate music, culture, and the arts draw hundreds each year. Residents and visitors sit and relax on the grassy hill overlooking the Levitt Pavilion, an open air amphitheater, which hosts talent contests, "Jazz Under the Stars," movies, and "Shakespeare in the Park"-- all free events. Reservoir Park also has a huge playground, tennis and basketball courts, and the National Civil War Museum. Because of the wide variety of cultures that coexist, there are many small ethnic stores and restaurants that sell or serve traditional Caribbean, Latino, African, and Asian foods.
Economic decline and gentrification
Allison Hill is also, less fortunately, reputed to be one of the roughest neighborhoods in Harrisburg. Many of its once immaculate homes and buildings have fallen into disrepair and have become condemned and a large portion of the neighborhood's population is low-income. The neighborhood is now faced with problems such as delinquent land-owners, drug-dealing, littering, robbery, increased homicide, and prostitution.
The City is working on many new constructions and renovations in the area and other organizations such as Habitat for Humanity of the Greater Harrisburg Area and The Tri-County Housing Development Corporation are also doing their part to create opportunities for home ownership within the neighborhood, as well as supporting existing homeowners with critical home repairs.
Other organizations such as The Community Action Commission, ACORN, and Danzante (all with local offices based on the Hill) are dedicated to improving the neighborhood's atmosphere and cultural richness. Some sections near Market Street have begun to gentrify, while others are seeing new life due to the growing Hispanic population.
South Allison Hill, bordered by Cameron Street, Market Street, 18th Street, and Paxton Street is a designated Weed and Seed neighborhood. This neighborhood recently began both the South Allison Hill Homeowners/Residents Association and the South Allison Hill Business Association.