One Street Pittsburgh: Penn Avenue

     Aerial view of Penn Avenue looking toward downtown Pittsburgh.  (Jessica Kourkounis/For Keystone Crossroads)

    Aerial view of Penn Avenue looking toward downtown Pittsburgh. (Jessica Kourkounis/For Keystone Crossroads)

    Penn Avenue in Pittsburgh is a major arterial street that cuts through starkly different neighborhoods.

    As part of the Keystone Crossroads series “Locked out: Pennsylvania has a housing problem,” I explored one street in three cities, getting to know the residents and seeing their homes as a way of telling a greater story about the city.

    If you move along one street in a city, you can get a good look at the differences and similarities of its residents and their homes. It may include high-end condos and new developments where people make six-figure salaries, but just down the road, could be a neighborhood plagued with vacant lots and dilapidated homes where residents are struggling to make ends meet. Essentially all of these people are neighbors looking for the same thing; a safe and comfortable place to call home. I wanted to explore questions like: What makes a space into a home? Why do we live where we do? What gives us a sense of community?

    Pittsburgh

    Penn Avenue in Pittsburgh is a major arterial street that cuts through starkly different neighborhoods. Considered to be the oldest and most historically-significant street in the city, one end is in the Cultural District downtown, with luxury condo buildings, and the other end is in East Liberty, a historically lower-income black neighborhood that is rapidly being converted to more high-cost housing, hotels, shops and offices. I chose this street because it seems to be going through a lot of growing pains and changes, and it has a mix of long-time residents and transplants.

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