Next Up: Beechview

Beechview is located in Pittsburgh’s South End.  It is bordered on the West by the neighborhoods of Banksville and Ridgemont, on the North by Duquesne Heights, on the Northeast by Mt. Washington, on the Southeast by Brookline, and on the South by Dormont Borough.

Beechview’s earliest days as a settlement share a history with Banksville.  In the 19th and early 20th centuries, the area’s economy consisted primarily of farms and coal mines.  The earliest settlers were Scots Irish, followed by English, Welsh, and German.  Before World War I, Italian and Jewish families began to move into the neighborhood as well.

In 1902, a trolley line was opened, which led to the first large-scale development of the area, and in 1905 Beechview was incorporated as a borough.  In 1909, it was annexed to the City of Pittsburgh.  An area adjacent to Beechview, known as Seldom Seen, was annexed by the city in 1924.  It has been unpopulated since the 1960s, and the greenway is now part of our urban forest.  The neighborhood began to grow even more in 1927 when the Liberty Tubes opened.

 In 1987, the T (light rail transit) began operating along the old street car line.  Several routes connect Downtown to the South Hills via Broadway Ave in Beechview.

In a city notable for its lack of immigration, Beechview is notable for being home to a rapidly growing Latino population.  The neighborhood houses not only Maya Mexican Restaurant and a few small Mexican stores, but also the Pittsburgh Metropolitan Area Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.  St. Catherine of Siena Church offers a Spanish-language mass.  A few longtime residents who had the misfortune of being quoted in a moment of being less-than-tolerant were lambasted on local blogs here and here.

Beechview has an extremely hilly landscape and is home to Canton Ave, which–at a grade of 37%–seems to be the steepest street in the world.

UPDATE (11/20/2007):  In our walk, we found out that Maya has closed, and the building is undergoing some kind of renovation.

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6 Comments

Filed under Beechview, History, South End

6 responses to “Next Up: Beechview

  1. I grew up on Canton Avenue!
    Baldwin Street in New Zealand is recognized as being the “steepest street in the world”, although Canton Ave. is actually steeper.
    Is there any way we can set the record straight?

  2. mattmp

    Good question.

    Who keeps a record like that? Guiness Book? I’d definitely help track down city records if you wanted to run with this and submit it!

  3. Don Bell

    Hi,
    Just an update on the Hispanic community in Beechview. Maya Restaurant is long gone but Tienda Jimenez, our neighborhood Mexican grocery store, celebrated it’s 5th anniversary in Beechview. Saturday and Sunday they have tamales that are out of this world. Congratulations to Saul and Samantha for hanging in there thru 3 different moves. Their address is 1663 Broadway Ave.
    In the past two years, ESL has been offered at our neighborhood grade school, Beechwood Elementary, where we celebrate our diverse student body at Nationality Night. 18 countries were represented this year.
    We are still waiting for someone to show up at the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce office. Despite the sign on the door, they don’t seem to be in evidence.
    Beechview represents one of the most diverse communities in Pittsburgh with folks from Jordan to Libya and Korea to Vietnam as well as Central and South America.
    We are hoping you will include this in your synopsis of our community today.

  4. mattmp

    Don, Thanks for visiting, and thanks for the update. Glad to have a diverse and growing neighborhood in our city!

  5. I lived in Beechview several years ago, just above Big Dog’s (a now-defunct bar just across from Maya, I believe). At the time I hadn’t noticed much of a Latino population at all, so I was pretty surprised at how prominent in the neighborhood they were when I went back to visit a friend last year. And that they petitioned a local church for a Spanish mass and actually got it to go through is such an inspiring bit of change to see happening when things in the city all too often seem to take years to establish.

    I guess it just shows that people who want to change their community can do so.

    Love your blog, too! Just found it and hope you keep it up. 🙂

  6. JS

    I enjoyed the Maya and am sorry it is gone. I grew up in Beechview. My parents moved to Beechview in 1940 and my mother died in the same home in 2006. Back in my childhood, Upper Beechview was Irish and Lower Beechview more Italian, and St. Catherine’s was HUGE. The synagogue on Broadway was still open, but it closed when I was a child.

    On my street, Fallowfield, and the one parallel to it, Dagmar, there were about 30 kids (the beginning of the “Boomer” era) and only four of us went to Beechwood school; the rest went to St Catherine’s. I had a great childhood, loved Beechwood and South Hills (Class of ’64). I left Pittsburgh many, many years ago, but if you wake me in the middle of the night and ask where am I from, the answer is always Pittsburgh.

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