The vow-renewal ceremony of the decade is happening in Pittsburgh’s Upper Lawrenceville neighborhood on May 19.
The celebration is part of Leadership Development Initiative’s (LDI) PopUp! Pittsburgh Project. A program of Leadership Pittsburgh Inc., LDI is a nine-month leadership training program for young professionals. The PopUp! project, with the support of the Pittsburgh Partnership for Neighborhood Development, allows LDI participants to hone what they’re learning by engaging directly with a local community. Officially dubbed PopUp! Pittsburgh “We Do, Take Two: An Upper Lawrenceville Love Story,” the one-day experience is meant to surprise, engage and bring together residents, their friends, families and all Pittsburgh-area lovebirds to appreciate the neighborhood’s assets, offer opportunities to envision its potential and challenge all to see Upper Lawrenceville in new ways.
So just where, exactly, is this sometimes-overlooked gem of a neighborhood? Lawrenceville as a whole curves along the Allegheny River, hugging Bloomfield, Garfield and Stanton Heights. The most visible part is Lower Lawrenceville, bordering the Strip District and offering a gateway to the larger neighborhood at “Doughboy Square,” where Butler Street splits from Penn Avenue. Farther northeast along Butler is Central Lawrenceville, where crowd favorites like New Amsterdam, Arsenal Bowling Lanes, and Thunderbird Café add to a buzz and vibe. But the fun doesn’t stop there. Tucked behind part of the historic Allegheny Cemetery is Upper Lawrenceville, which begins around the 51st block of Butler Street. The neighborhood is nearing a tipping point as the business and arts district of Lawrenceville quickly grows. The charm of this part of Lawrenceville – and its potential – made LDI participants quickly fall in love with it.
This working-class neighborhood is still home to many families, but the heavy industry that once served as a draw has receded. Today, in 21st-century Pittsburgh, the city’s 10th Ward – Upper Lawrenceville – still has the hearts of many residents who have been loyal for decades. However, this neighborhood’s architectural beauty and affordable living options are attracting younger, “hip” residents. Location is important, but at the end of the day, a choice community is really about its people, and the love of Upper Lawrenceville’s people for their home are why LDI participants want to help honor the neighborhood’s past and its future.
PopUp! Pittsburgh’s “We Do Take Two: An Upper Lawrenceville Love Story” celebration on May 19 will feature live music, fine food and drink, family-friendly activities and a chance to contribute to and sample from what just may be Pittsburgh’s largest cookie table. We hope to help celebrate the way in which residents both new and seasoned are shaping a neighborhood that’s worth taking a second look at – a neighborhood that’s worth loving all over again.
But you don’t have to wait until May 19 to get acquainted with Upper Lawrenceville. Come early and often, because entrepreneurs are quickly filling up storefronts with an array of interesting businesses and non-profits. These are alongside long-time family-owned businesses such as Nied’s Hotel Bar and Restaurant, where owner Jim Nied makes his livelihood feeding and entertaining locals (and visitors) with his “best-in-town” fish sandwiches and bar band, The Nied’s Hotel Band.
“I’ve lived above our family bar since 1977, but have worked here since 1965,” said Nied. “The best part of my day is opening up and cooking for my ‘Coffee Club.’ It’s just me and a few special regulars sharing coffee beans, bread, bacon and eggs served with a side order of life.”
Nied is enthusiastic and appreciative about “We Do, Take Two: An Upper Lawrenceville Love Story” that’s bound to bring a smile to residents’ faces on May 19. “It’s basically a win-win situation,” says Nied. “Fast burners of the Pittsburgh business community get to flap their wings and we as residents and business people get to enjoy a heightened awareness of the attributes of our community.”
Perhaps the LDI participants behind PopUp! Pittsburgh’s “We Do, Take Two: An Upper Lawrenceville Love Story” will help make this wish come true. Check out the video below to see more of Upper Lawrenceville.
LDI, a program of Leadership Pittsburgh Inc., is focused on top emerging talent within regional organizations. The program uses a data-driven model of leadership development created by Dr. Robert Kelley of Carnegie Mellon University that outlines strategic approaches to cement the participants’ status as “STAR performers” in their professional and community work. These leadership skills are developed in the context of community awareness and exposure to the benefits and needs of the Pittsburgh region.