The history of the Pittsburgh neighborhood of Hazelwood predates the Revolutionary War. White settlers arrived in the 1750’s, tore down towering Native American burial mounds and used the stones to pave a trail that became Second Avenue.
By the middle of the 20th century it was home to more 30 thousand people and several thriving businesses. Today its population has dwindled to 5,000 residents and roughly a quarter of them live in poverty. With Mayor-elect Bill Peduto focused on Hazelwood because of its proximity to downtown and Oakland, it looks to be prime for development.
Jim Richter, Executive Director of the Hazelwood Initiative, believes that Hazelwood has many advantages, especially location.
“I often say to folks, you can spend more time trying to find a parking space in Oakland, than you can driving from Hazelwood to Oakland. Similarly Downtown unless you use parking garages, only 7 or 8 minutes. So that's one of the real benefits. The others are an undeveloped greenway that has an awful lot of potential for becoming an active park and connecting with the other parks in the area. There are 14 churches, certainly that's a great benefit in a livable community, and a number of architectural assets that still remain. We have the third Carnegie Library that was built in the city of Pittsburgh, and we have the original Woods House and we have a great population, a great community.”
In utilizing these assets, City Councilman Corey O’Connor explains the plan for revitalizing Hazelwood.
“If you start with the technology centers where they are now, it’s going to be an extension of that with some mixed use housing there, then you go to office space, then there’s light industrial, more office space and then housing adjacent to the already existing Hazelwood community. Which is great because this is the first time we’re actually using our waterfronts to place housing next to an already adjacent community.”