Google Street View Shows Pittsburgh’s Incredible Transformation
Let’s hop into the DeLorean and take a trip back to 2007.
Google Maps recently unveiled an update that allows users to view a street at various points in time since 2007, when Street View first began its cross-country scan of America.
When LA Weekly’s Jennifer Swann used this new update to reveal 20 before-and-after images showing how Los Angeles has changed since 2007, I knew I had to apply that same research to Pittsburgh.
After hours spent virtually driving the streets of Pittsburgh with one eye on the present and one eye on the past, I found that Pittsburgh truly has undergone a metamorphosis in the past seven years.
Perhaps one of the most well-known areas of revitalization is hipster heaven Lawrenceville — especially Butler Street, where vacant, rundown facades have been renovated into busy, colorful storefronts.
The city recently trained an eye on the Hill District as an area for redevelopment, but a look at Google Maps shows some changes already have taken place. On Dinwiddie Street, new housing and other developments sparkle among aging structures.
Thanks to a mayor and residents who have thrown their hearts and souls into the town — refusing to give up even when UPMC walked away — Braddock indeed is rising as evidenced by mixed-use developments such as this one at the intersection of Braddock Avenue and 4th Street.
The Market Square redesign was met with criticism from those who weren’t fans of a big cement square taking the place of raised tree beds. But with the overhaul complete and the square hosting crowd-drawing events throughout the year, including the uber-popular Christkindlmrkt in December, those critics seem to have been silenced.
It all began with a simple rebranding — the land closest to the rivers no longer is the North Side; it’s the North Shore, home to many of the most visible new structures in Pittsburgh. In addition to Heinz Field and PNC Park, you’ll find Stage AE and the Hyatt Place hotel where an empty lot once stood, Rivers Casino on once-empty prime riverfront property and a bronzed Mister Rogers taking his seat underneath a remnant of the old Manchester Bridge.
Perhaps topping Lawrenceville as the most-overhauled neighborhood is East Liberty. The transformation began with the demolition of several dilapidated high-rise towers and really kicked into high gear with the arrival of Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods and the Bakery Square complex. Here you’ll see how Bakery Square and Target transformed their spots. A little further down Penn, you’ll find Verde Mexican Kitchen & Cantina’s clean green lines replacing vacant, boarded-up structures. You’ll also find the “Happy Birthday, Julia” window still looking down on passersby before Google saved it from demolition.
Once a ghost town with newspaper tumbleweeds rolling down empty streets as soon as the workday ended, downtown is now a thriving neighborhood. There’s vibrancy and activity well into the night hours on any given day. In addition to Market Square, some of the more notable updates since 2007 include the new Fairmont Pittsburgh hotel, the rising Tower at PNC Plaza and the sleek Greyhound Station where Grant Street becomes Liberty Avenue.
Things that aren’t there anymore
Building up cities often involves tearing down old structures, and Google Street View gives us a glimpse into the past. The Civic Arena now is a parking lot, while empty space is all that remains of the embattled St. Nicholas Church off of Route 28.
And some things … as evidenced by the two shots of Route 28 taken years apart … just never change …