Hill District

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
  (Redirected from Hill District (Pittsburgh))
Jump to: navigation, search
The Hill District is the largely green area visible above downtown Pittsburgh in this aerial photo.

The Hill District is a collection of neighborhoods that is considered by many to be the cultural center of African-American life in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania,[according to whom?] an American city. Harlem Renaissance poet Claude McKay once called the district "the crossroads of the world," referring to the neighborhood's heyday in the 1930s–1950s. It is known to many Pittsburghers as simply "The Hill."

It is bordered by the Downtown on the west, the Strip District and Polish Hill on the north, the Bluff (Uptown) on the southwest, and Oakland on the east and southeast.

The Hill District was the setting for nine of the plays in August Wilson's 10-play Pittsburgh Cycle.[1]


Bedford Dwellings
Neighborhood of Pittsburgh
Pgh locator bedford dwellings.svg
Country United States
State Pennsylvania
County Allegheny County
City Pittsburgh
 • Total 0.179 sq mi (0.46 km2)
Population (2010)[2]
 • Total 1,202
 • Density 6,700/sq mi (2,600/km2)
Upper Hill
Neighborhood of Pittsburgh
Pgh locator upper hill.svg
Country United States
State Pennsylvania
County Allegheny County
City Pittsburgh
 • Total 0.313 sq mi (0.81 km2)
Population (2010)[2]
 • Total 2,057
 • Density 6,600/sq mi (2,500/km2)

The Hill District comprises five distinct neighborhoods. A recent new development near Downtown is Crawford Square. The neighborhoods are represented on the Pittsburgh City Council by the council member for District 6 (Downtown neighborhoods), and part of the Upper Hill is also represented under District 7. The 15219 ZIP code covers all five neighborhoods, and the 15213 ZIP code covers part of Terrace Village and the Upper Hill.

  • Crawford-Roberts
  • Upper Hill
  • Middle Hill
  • Bedford Dwellings
  • Terrace Village

Demographics and history[edit]

For over two centuries, the African-American community of Hill District has had a direct relationship with Haitian descendants, as the oldest black community in Pittsburgh was called "Little Haiti" in the early nineteenth century and consisted of a middle-class of free blacks.[3][4]

About 40 percent of the Hill District's residents live below poverty level, and the vast majority of residents are black or African American; about 6 percent of the population is white.[5]

Many residents view a major turning point in the neighborhood's history as the 1960s, when the city of Pittsburgh displaced about 8000 residents and 400 businesses in the Lower Hill to build the Civic Arena.[6] The displaced people moved into the East Liberty and Homewood-Brushton neighborhoods, causing (white & black) middle-class families to flee these areas.[7][8]

Recent initiatives have aimed to revitalize the area, which has struggled for decades with varying levels of dilapidation and crime.[9]

A project to open a new grocery store — the neighborhood lacked one for 30 years — came to fruition in late 2013.[10] The YMCA is building a $9 million branch in the neighborhood, complete with a rooftop garden. A group of investors have gathered to restore the New Granada Theater, a historic jazz club where Ella Fitzgerald and Duke Ellington once performed.[9] Local college Duquesne University opened a new pharmacy in the neighborhood in December 2010,[11] the first university-operated community pharmacy in the US.[12]


The TV Show Hill Street Blues ties its name origin back to the Hill District. Steven Bochco, a series writer for the show, attended college at the nearby Carnegie Institute of Technology (now Carnegie Mellon University) and based the show on the neighborhood.[13]

From the 1960s to 1982 the Pirates' Hall of famer Willie Stargell owned a fried chicken store on the Hill. Patrons would receive free chicken if they were in the store at the time Stargell hit a home run. Pirates' radio announcer Bob Prince coined the phrase "Spread some chicken on the Hill with Will."

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Weber, Bruce. "Israel Hicks, Director of August Wilson’s Cycle, Dies at 66", The New York Times, July 7, 2010. Accessed July 8, 2010.
  2. ^ a b c d "PGHSNAP 2010 Raw Census Data by Neighborhood". Pittsburgh Department of City Planning PGHSNAP Utility. 2012. Retrieved 21 June 2013. 
  3. ^ Message from State of Pennsylvania
  4. ^ Conner, Lynne (2007). "Pittsburgh in Stages: Two Hundred Years of Theater". p. 24. ISBN 9780822943303. Retrieved 15 June 2015. 
  5. ^ "Commemorating a century of service, today's Boy Scouts reach out to Minorities," Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, July 22, 2010, accessed Dec. 9, 2010 url: http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/10203/1074228-55.stm
  6. ^ Trotter, Joe W. & Day, Jared N. "Race and Renaissance: African-Americans in Pittsburgh Since World War II."
  7. ^ Glasco, Laurence (1989). "Double Burden: The Black Experience in Pittsburgh". In Samuel P. Hays. City at the Point: Essays on the Social History of Pittsburgh. Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh. p. 89. ISBN 0-8229-3618-6. They simply crowded into integrated neighborhoods such as East Liberty and Homewood-Brushton, beginning the abandonment of those areas by the middle class, both black and white. 
  8. ^ https://news.google.com/newspapers?id=7cAbAAAAIBAJ&sjid=FE8EAAAAIBAJ&pg=7275%2C1042648
  9. ^ a b Nereim, Vivian (January 4, 2010). "Frazier departs Hill House at 'tipping point'". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. 
  10. ^ Blazina, Ed (October 17, 2013). "Supermarket opens in Pittsburgh's Hill District, the first in three decades". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. 
  11. ^ "The Center for Pharmacy Services". 
  12. ^ Nereim, Vivian (April 23, 2010). "Hill District residents rejoice over drugstore". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. 
  13. ^ Lynette Clemetson (August 9, 2002). "Revival for a Black Enclave in Pittsburgh". New York Times. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Toker, Franklin (1994) [1986]. Pittsburgh: An Urban Portrait. Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press. ISBN 0-8229-5434-6. 

External links[edit]

Media related to Hill District at Wikimedia Commons

Coordinates: 40°26′43″N 79°58′47″W / 40.44528°N 79.97972°W / 40.44528; -79.97972