Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Goodbye, Larry; Your Street Will Miss You

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Goodbye, Larry; Your Street Will Miss You

Article excerpt

In 1984, Larry Hall moved to a different street from the one he left late last month. He didn't move in those 33 years. Nothing looks much different on Resaca Place.

What changed are things you can't see, like the price behind the "for sale" sign; things that aren't there anymore, like bars on almost every window; and people who aren't there anymore.

Around the time Larry bought on Resaca, I visited my sister's college buddy Pam around the corner on North Taylor Avenue. I was living in Tulsa at the time, back home for a visit. I knew nothing of the Mexican War Streets, but what I inferred from her warning: "Hide your cassettes and lock your car."

As I turned onto her street that day, the Chatterbox Lounge on the corner was my first impression. I decided the street looked dicey, but maybe only because my information to that point was a warning and a seedy bar.

You should still lock your car, but no one makes a point of telling visitors that now. The Chatterbox isn't there anymore. There is still blight, but appearances don't matter so much when perception begins to change.

"I had friends say, 'How's the North Side?' " Larry said in a voice laced with mock suspicion, "and I told them, 'You would see if you'd just come into the neighborhood.' The guy who lived beside me moved because his mother worried about him living on the North Side. He moved to Shadyside and got robbed."

I visited Larry at his new place recently. We sat on his tablet of a patio with a view of the Ross Park Mall parking lot through the trees. He has one floor, no steps to contend with as he had on Resaca.

"I was losing my balance, and the banister was kind of wobbly," he said. "Friends said, 'You've got to get out of that house. Those stairs are going to kill you.' "

Larry taught at Sewickley Academy for 40 years - English and history. In 1972, he took his students on a field trip to the Mexican War Streets. He had never been there before.

"It was a course on social change," he said. "That trip must have stuck with me."

By 1998, when I bought my house, the neighborhood was already pretty gentrified. …

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