Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

BEECHVIEW: WHERE HAVE THE SHOPS GONE? Series: THE STOREFRONT PROJECT

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

BEECHVIEW: WHERE HAVE THE SHOPS GONE? Series: THE STOREFRONT PROJECT

Article excerpt

The Post-Gazette initiated the Storefront Project last year to systematically tell the story of the city's neighborhood retail transitions from 1930 to 1960 to today.

Since then, it has featured Centre Avenue in the Hill District, the Mexican War Streets in the Central North Side and today, the heart of Beechview -- the 1400-1600 blocks of Beechview and Broadway avenues.

Although the neighborhood has a bank, a few bars, a supermarket, an auto repair shop, a coffee shop, a charcuterie, a hair and tanning salon, three small Mexican markets and a convenience store, it presents a picture similar to that of many city neighborhoods where vacant storefronts dominate once vibrant retail corridors.

In 1930, the portion of Broadway and Beechview under study had 24 active storefronts. In 1960, it had 29. City directories from those years listed stores that served a wide enough range of needs that, even though a trolley ran through, people didn't have to ride it, or drive, to buy basic necessities.

Nate and Sabina Marini were married and lived in Beechview for 60 years. Ms. Marini, now a widow, remembers the vibrant days and watched them fade.

"There were open-air fruit stands, ladies clothing stores, baby supplies, a bridal shop, a theater, a hardware store, an Isaly's, restaurants, drugstores, barbershops, a bakery, doctors, hairdressers," she said. "Every church had a dance on the weekend. That's what we did; we danced all weekend. It used to be a great place, like a lot of places."

Bucky Bianco was born in Beechview and has lived in numerous houses there. While sipping coffee in Brew, the coffee shop at 1557 Broadway, he recalled businesses that occupied the same space over the years, Benny the Furrier and Rizzo's Hardware among them.

"The American Legion was upstairs," he said. "They had dances."

He remembered Stanley's Market at that location in the 1960s. "He was Polish and that was his butcher shop."

Maffie's Grill at 1602 Broadway "was a bar with a kitchen, and it was a very nice place," he said. …

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