After Lawrenceville

Sunday's New York Times magazine Travel special includes an "Epicenters" column on Brillobox in Lawrenceville -- the Times and its Pittsburgh love affair strikes again! (not that anyone here is complaining) -- but I wonder whether there is any cool in Pittsburgh that *isn't* centered on Pittsburgh's own L word.

I did an interview last week with Dutch media (which is following the "why isn't Pittsburgh cratering in the recession?" story last seen in this space when I met with a team from Anderson Cooper 360), and the Dutch were smart and thoughtful and engaging, as the Dutch often are. At their request, we did the interview in ... Lawrenceville.

We want to spread the gospel of Pittsburgh to Holland and all, but if Lawrenceville is hip in Holland (and if I'm the one doing the 'splaining!), then Lawrenceville may be losing its edge.

So if you wanted to point to someplace cool or hip in Pittsburgh that hasn't yet been discovered by the mainsteam media, where would you go?


6 Responses to "After Lawrenceville"

Jia said... 5/17/2009 10:56 PM

Yeah, Lawrenceville is quickly turning into a media darling after being named "Diamond in the Rust" by the Financial Times. I'm all for more press being drawn to the Pittsburgh region, but when did the Brillobox become part of Lawrenceville?

I've presented at the Brillobox before (thanks to Dorkbot Pittsburgh) and I've always considered it part of Bloomfield. But I guess that neighborhood isn't as trendy nowadays so the Times decided to be a bit revisionist with geoproximity? It seems all this media attention is a mixed blessing if it results in the press re-envisioning Pittsburgh to suit their own narratives.

This reminds me of my flight into Pittsburgh from Chicago last night, when I was sitting next to a former high school classmate (weird chance reunion during a layover) talking about Braddock. My friend was raised in North Braddock and she passed me her recent copy of Rolling Stone magazine which had a feature article about Braddock. It was an interesting article, but it also had its fair share of inaccuracies and seemed to focus mostly on the charismatic mayor (Rolling Stone calls him a "Harvard-educated punk-rock pol" and he's been in the mainstream press a lot recently).

Anyway, to get back to Mike's original question of what local neighborhoods are up and coming but lack media attention, here are my rankings:
1. East Liberty = Where we'll probably host a charity block party later this summer. Tons of construction and new businesses cropping up in addition to a high concentration of nonprofits (mainly community and arts groups).
2. South Side = Arguably one of the best local success stories of neighborhood revitalization, but not well known outside of Pittsburgh. Even amongst locals it's mainly known for SouthSide Works and its bar scene rather than the amazingly high concentration of startups in the area (mainly technology and gaming).
3. Bellevue = Mainly known for its "Live, Worship, Shop" sign greeting visitors, this northern neighborhood was actually the defacto homebase of the Pittsburgh social media community for many years. I have fond memories of going to the Creative Treehouse for PodCamp meetings and then walking down the street to Affogato to hang out afterwards. Unfortunately, after Jesse Hambley left for LA and the Creative Treehouse closed down, we've relocated most of our activities to AlphaLab in the South Side. Which makes me wonder how much neighborhood revitalization is dependent on just a few individuals. For example, what would happen to Braddock if John Fetterman lost his re-election campaign for mayor?

Anonymous said... 5/18/2009 12:50 AM

Brillo is right on the edge of Lawrenceville, right? The signs on Main change from Bloomfield to Lawrenceville right after crossing Penn, which seems to imply that if it were on the other side of the street it would be in Lawrenceville "proper".

One thing that's always impressed me at Brillo is its eclectic and evolving selection of very very tasty beers. The first time I went there I was expecting things to be limited to pitchers of Straub/PBR, but was very pleasantly surprised. Not too expensive, either.

The "East Shadyside" parts of East Liberty are too glossy to be hip.

It's awfully small, but what about Polish Hill? Gooski's is the most hipster bar in Pittsburgh, no?

jwander said... 5/18/2009 10:22 AM

Good article but there IS a Republican candidate, "Josh Wander", write-in for the Republican nomination!

Bram Reichbaum said... 5/18/2009 9:35 PM

Give Deutschtown one more year. It has a Rita's now on the corner. That should be a harbinger of good things.

Jerry said... 5/20/2009 8:14 PM

Let Bloomfield have the Brillobox. I can do without a hipster doofus suggesting that he may have "started" Lawrenceville. This was a fine neighborhood long before the black-frame-glasses-and-ironic-trucker-hats crowd found out about it.

Bram -- there's a Rita's in Deutschtown? That is a good sign. Where?

DJSKYDORFER said... 6/02/2009 11:28 AM

Hey all,
I'm new to this blog, but I thought this post in particular might be a good opportunity to ask everyones opinion. Where should I live in Pittsburgh???

I'm moving in less than two weeks from my hometown of NYC (upper west side), still living with the rents at the moment, ouch! I'm an engineer that's going to working in the "chocolate factory" on 43rd st in Lawrenceville. I'm 25 and single, and definitely dont want all of the hipidie hoopla/shallowness of a trendy neighborhood, not scared of a little grunginess if you catch my drift. I guess the most important thing to me is a sense of community (the way Brillobox is described seems to embody that). I would also love to be able to walk, bike to work (a bit of a green itch). What do you think?

Thanks to everyone that cares so much for the city, as represented by the thoughtfulness of this blog.

Btw, I have only heard positive remarks about the city, and the people. Everyone from there seems to loves the place.

Search Pittsblog

About Pittsblog

Pittsblog 2.0 is written by Mike Madison, a law professor at the University of Pittsburgh. Send email to michael.j.madison[at] Mike also blogs at, on law and technology. Chris Briem of Null Space drops by from time to time.

All opinions expressed at Pittsblog 2.0 are those of their respective authors and of no one (and no thing) else, least of all the University of Pittsburgh.

Pittsblog 2.0 has a motto: "It's steel good in Pittsburgh." Say it aloud, with a Pittsburgh accent.

Comments are moderated.
Subscribe to Pittsblog comments


Blog Archive

Header Background

Header background images licensed from (left image) lemonad and (right image) plaskota under Creative Commons Attribution - Noncommercial - Share Alike 2.0 Generic licenses.


Copyright 2003-2010 Michael J. Madison - WP Theme by Brian Gardner - Blogger Blog Templates,