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Uptown (Pittsburgh)

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Uptown (Pittsburgh)

Neighborhood of Pittsburgh
Uptown (visible on the left side of the image) overlooking the Monongahela River.
Uptown (visible on the left side of the image) overlooking the Monongahela River.
Country United States
State Pennsylvania
County Allegheny County
City Pittsburgh
 • Total 0.327 sq mi (0.85 km2)
Population (2000)[1]
 • Total 6,600
 • Density 20,000/sq mi (7,800/km2)

Uptown or The Bluff (also known by its former name Soho and prior to the 20th century as Boyd's Hill[2]) is a neighborhood in the city of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania to the southeast of the city's Central Business District. It is bordered in the north by the Hill District and just a short trip across the Monongahela River is the city's South Side, which is home to a flourishing residential community and business district. The predominant area zip code is 15219.

This area is home to Mercy Hospital as well as Duquesne University. It also includes a residential community that was once flourishing during the first half of the 20th century. Uptown is also the home of the Pittsburgh Fire Bureau 4 Engine and 4 Truck.


  • History 1
  • Neighborhood character 2
  • Adjacent neighborhoods 3
  • Gallery 4
  • See also 5
  • References 6
    • Further reading 6.1


The area was known to American frontiersmen and colonists as Ayer's Hill in honor of a fortification built by the English commander Ayers in the mid-1700s. Sometime near the Revolutionary War and throughout the 19th century the area was referred to as Boyd's Hill in the expanding frontier and than industrial city. The name is said to have been given to the neighborhood after a newly arrived businessman swayed by Hugh Brackenridge, left his downtown office and hanged himself on the hill.[2]

The Uptown was first developed by James Tustin, an eccentric English émigré who built an estate in the area in the late eighteenth or early nineteenth century. His home featured an English taste in architecture and a fruit orchard, and was acknowledged at the time to have been "the most beautiful place in Pittsburgh," according to a 1915 article in the Pittsburgh Gazette–Times.[3] Tustin named his estate "Soho" after his previous residence in Britain, and the name came to be generally applied to the neighborhood.[3]

The neighborhood was originally part of Pitt Township, but was annexed in 1846. The addition was precipitated by the city's efforts at regrowth following a cataclysmic fire in 1845, which destroyed 56 acres (230,000 m2) and 1,000 buildings.[4]

A 1922 guidebook, A History of Pittsburgh and Environs, noted that the area's houses were "old and not attractive, and are largely populated by foreign mill workers and their families",[3] and a 1977 guide remarked that it was once "a pleasant residential area for many wealthy Pittsburghers" but "as industry moved in, the wealthy moved out".[3] The neighborhood was adversely affected by Pittsburgh's urban renewal campaign in the 1960s, and in the estimation of some, "has never been reassembled".[5]

Construction projects in the area include expansion by Duquesne University, and development surrounding the newly completed arena for the Pittsburgh Penguins.[6]

Neighborhood character

Fifth Avenue is home to law offices and a few restaurants, but vacant storefronts, rundown bars, and small street parking lots for Downtown commuters are prevalent as well.[5] Brick rowhouses are common in the neighborhood.

There are significant efforts in the community to reassert a sense of identity,[5] and residents range from Downtown workers and long-time residents to university students and health professionals.[4]

Adjacent neighborhoods

Uptown borders Pittsburgh's Downtown Pittsburgh, the The Hill District neighborhood, South Oakland, the South Side Flats (via Birmingham Bridge), and West Oakland.


A panoramic view of Pittsburgh's Bluff or Uptown neighborhood from the top of a parking garage at Duquesne University from January 2008

See also


  1. ^ a b "PGHSNAP 2010 Raw Census Data by Neighborhood". Pittsburgh Department of City Planning PGHSNAP Utility. 2012. Retrieved 21 June 2013. 
  2. ^ a b
  3. ^ a b c d Potter, Chris (2007-05-24). "Pittsburgh has a neighborhood named "Soho"...". "You Had to Ask" (Pittsburgh City Paper). Retrieved 2008-09-01. 
  4. ^ a b "Uptown". Neighborhoods. Pittsburgh City Council District 6. Retrieved 2008-09-01. 
  5. ^ a b c Ackerman, Jan (2003-06-12). "Group taking steps to improve Uptown". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved 2008-09-01. 
  6. ^ Conte, Andrew (2007-11-14). "New Uptown arena to match neighborhood". Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. Retrieved 2008-09-01. 

Further reading

  • Post Gazette article on the 19th century history of the area
  • Toker, Franklin (1994) [1986]. Pittsburgh: An Urban Portrait. Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press.  
  • Post-Gazette on residential renovations in the Bluff
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