Walking Bedford Dwellings

We started our walk at the juncture between Polish Hill and the Hill District, by the garden at the corner of Bigelow Blvd. and Herron Ave.


This part of the neighborhood of Bedford Dwellings is separated from the rest of the neighborhood, including the public housing, by its natural hillside, and it is more closely joined to Polish Hill.  We headed south on Herron Ave. and made a right onto Ridgeway, where we immediately passed the Mastro Ice Company.

In addition to providing the machines and boat loads of ice seen above, Mastro supplies ice sculptures for special events and dry ice for your friendly Halloween witch’s cauldron.

Ridgeway continues to Rust Way and Leander St., where most of the houses are thin and tall, with porches extending in the front.

Some of the houses are not-so-tall.

We passed some city stairs leading down to Bigelow Blvd. and came upon this view of the Bedford Dwellings public housing from Leander St.


Backtracking out to Herron Ave., we passed some graffiti on an old building to our right.


We headed right, up a short set of stairs leading to Bedford Ave.

There were a number of brick houses that lined this part of Bedford Ave.

An older woman was outside tending to a beautiful bed of marigolds, and she had a garden of fall greens along both sides of her house.

Continuing along Bedford Avenue, we passed some senior citizen housing on our right.  Then we came upon another swathe of green space with major park potential, fenced off by the Housing Authority, which was analagous to what we first saw in Arlington Heights.

We turned left on Morgan St. and right on Webster Ave.  Our walk along Webster illustrated some of the struggles facing the Hill, including blighted housing and abandoned properties.

Also on Webster, we came upon a historical marker indicating the former home of Daisy E. Lampkin.


Daisy E. Lampkin was the first African American woman in Pennsylvania to be commemorated with a historical marker.  She was national field secretary for the NAACP and was responsible for bringing the national NAACP convention to Pittsburgh in 1931.  She was a fighter for Civil Rights and also for Women’s Rights, with her involvement in the suffrage movement.

We turned right at Junilla St. and right on Bedford Ave.  The Bedford Hope Center resides on this block, which is run by the housing authority and provides social services to Bedford Dwellings residents.

The block is also home to the new No Strings swap shop, which is open to all Pittsburgh Public Housing residents, regardless of location, and provides donated or “swapped” clothing, books, toys, and home items free of charge.

Edna’s Place, a small convenience store, sits at the corner of Bedford and Watt Ln.

We turned left onto Chauncey Dr., which took us into the Bedford Dwellings public housing area.

We took the stairs down to Somers Dr.

We passed the location of the Beverly Jewel Wall Lovelace Children’s Program, which provides after school and summer programming for children.  We took Somers back out to Bedford and made a right.

We came upon a historical marker commemorating major league baseball hall-of-famer Josh Gibson, who played for both the Homestead Grays and the Pittsburgh Crawfords.

Next on our journey was the Macedonia Baptist Church, which has grown to include over 3,000 members and produced a non-profit, the Macedonia Family and Community Enrichment Center.

Next door to the church sits the Ammon Recreation Center.  The rec center was run by the city until it was closed in 2003, due to budget constraints.  Pastor Barr of Macedonia Baptist approached the city about re-opening the center through its non-profit, and it has since re-opened, providing recreation, education, and social services.


This is a great example of a time when a public-private partnership was able to accomplish something that the government alone could not.

Continuing down Bedford, we passed the construction site of the Bedford Hills Apartments.

This is part of a long-term revitalization effort in Bedford Dwellings.  The goal is mixed income rental and for-sale housing.  The anticipated occupancy for this phase of the project is Fall ’08.

We arrived at the Miller African Centered Academy at the corner of Erin and Bedford.  As part of Pittsburgh Public Schools, it houses grades pre-K through 8th, and the curriculum is infused with the teaching of the history and culture of people of African descent.

We turned right on Ledlie, and having reached the edge of the neighborhood, were about to turn around when a homeowner at the end of the street insisted that we walk ten feet down Ridgeway, just past his house, to check out the view.  As we stepped toward the edge of a cliff, we were astounded by the 180 degree view of the city, stretching from the Northside to Lawrenceville.  We could hear the polka spilling out of Wholey’s and see the Saturday market crowd milling around the Strip.  We cheated a bit here by taking a few steps beyond the neighborhood border, but we’re glad that we did.

From here, we took Bedford Avenue back to Herron.  We were unable to make a loop out of our walk, because the neighborhood is perched on a cliff.  On Herron, it was Walking Pittsburgh to the rescue, as we stopped to help a woman who was struggling with changing a stubborn tire.  We found that one of the important differences between walking and driving is that you can’t simply ignore the people in your path.  Many cars had no doubt passed her by, but because we were walking, we were engaged.

Distance: 3.7 miles
Time: 1 hr, 15 min (tire-changing excluded)





Filed under Bedford Dwellings, Hill District, Walking

2 responses to “Walking Bedford Dwellings

  1. That “Your Model Cities Program Working for You” sign is really something. Is it connected to a former incarnation of the Ammon Recreation Center, or what? What was it calling attention to, and what was the Model Cities Program?

  2. mattmp

    That might be my favorite picture in this post. The Model Cities Program was part of LBJ’s War on Poverty in the mid 1960s– (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Model_Cities_Program). The goal was to integrate urban redevelopment with social services & employment programs, and it was administered by HUD.

    The federal program was apparently short-lived. The sign was near Ammon, but there’s not a direct link to that program and the city-run rec. center which closed pretty recently. (At least as far as I know).

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