Interlude: Boundaries

Who are the people in your neighborhood?

Our project revolves around two seemingly contradictory ideas: the idea that Pittsburgh is one integral community made up of a network of interacting neighborhoods, and the idea that we can know Pittsburgh by breaking it down into well-defined boundaries and cracking away at them one-by-one. 

Already, over the course of this project, we’ve learned that there are different ways to determine the boundaries of a neighborhood (two examples being adhering to the maps provided by city planning and listening to the way people self-identify and create their own neighborhood boundaries).

Our next tour will be the neighborhoods of Arlington/Arlington Heights.  Arlington Heights was carved out of Arlington in order to provide a space for low-income housing units.  Some people consider it part of Arlington, some people consider it a sub-neighborhood within Arlington, and others consider it a neighborhood in its own right.  Additionally, the streets just north of Arlington Avenue (which includes Arlington Gym and Recreation Center) are considered by city planning to be a part of the South Side Slopes.  Residents here often identify as being from Arlington.

Drawing lines is not an exact science, but to ensure that we hit every part of the city, we’ve decided to go by the city planning maps.  We’re taking Arlington and Arlington Heights together, because much of Arlington Heights is indoors, where we don’t have access.  Nonetheless, we hope that this project will help us to understand some of the nuances and discrepancies that exist along our neighborhood boundaries.  We assume that when Mr. Rogers asked us, “who are the people in your neighborhood?,” he didn’t mean that if you’re walking down Arlington Avenue, the people on the right side are your neighbors, and the people on your left are not.

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3 Comments

Filed under Arlington, Arlington Heights, Interlude, South End, South Side Slopes

3 responses to “Interlude: Boundaries

  1. thank you. it’s so nice to hear the acknowledgement of the arbitrary nature of the geographical boundaries that break pittsburgh into neighborhoods. and, while the boundaries are arbitrary, the historical identity is not. nor does it adhere to the boundaries as they are set. the boundaries are useful for organization but acknowledging their arbitrary nature makes it just a little bit easier for people to think about the who and what rather than the where.

  2. mattmp

    It’s also worth pointing out that City Planning divides neighborhoods so that they encompase complete census tracts. In theory, this could be used in determining how to distribute social services and CDBG money.

  3. Mr. Rogers break-dancing. Too cool.

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