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PITTSBURGH

IINFORMATION BOARD

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Demographics of Pittsburgh

                               White          Black       Native American      Asian          Hispanic

Total Population  67.0%         26.5%               1.0%                   3.5%             1.8%

FACTS ABOUT PITTSBURGH

1.Pittsburgh is the second-largest city in the U.S. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the county seat of Allegheny County. The population of the city in 2010 was 305,704, while that of the seven-county metropolitan area stood at 2,356,285.

2.Downtown Pittsburgh retains substantial economic influence, ranking at 25th in the nation for jobs within the urban core and 6th in job density. The characteristic shape of Pittsburgh's central business district is a triangular tract carved by the confluence of the Allegheny and Monongahela rivers, which form the Ohio River. Pittsburgh is known colloquially as "The City of Bridges" and "The Steel City" for its many bridges and former steel manufacturing base. While the city is historically known for its steel industry, today its economy is largely based on healthcare, education, technology, robotics, and financial services. The downturn of the steel industry left no steel mills within the City of Pittsburgh and only two remaining mills in the county.

3.Pittsburgh's patchwork of neighborhoods still retain an ethnic character reflecting the city's immigrant history. These include: Polish and other Eastern European: South Side, Lawrenceville, and Polish Hill African American: Hill District, Homewood, and Larimer Jewish: Squirrel Hill.

4.The median income for a household in the city was $28,588, and the median income for a family was $38,795.

5.The growth of Pittsburgh and its economy was caused by the extensive trade in steel through the 1970s. Pittsburgh has since adapted to the collapse of the region's steel industry. The primary industries have shifted more to high technology, such as robotics, health care, nuclear engineering, tourism, biomedical technology, finance, and services. As of 2007, the total annual payroll of the region's technology industries, when taken in aggregate, exceeded $10.8 billion, and as of 2010, there were 1,600 technology companies.

 

6.Among the professional music venues, the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra performs in Heinz Hall, and the Pittsburgh Opera performs in the Benedum Center. Both The Benedum Center and Heinz Hall provide venues for other groups, such as the River City Brass Band and the Pittsburgh Youth Symphony Orchestra. Pittsburgh has a long tradition of jazz, blues and bluegrass music. Additionally the National Negro Opera Company was founded in Pittsburgh, and was the first all African-American opera company in the United States. This led to the prominence of African-American singers like Leontyne Price in the world of opera. 

7.Pittsburgh has a Temperate Continental Climate. According to the Köppen climate classification it falls in the transition between the humid continental and humid subtropical climate zones, but is closer to the former. It features four distinct seasons, with precipitation somewhat evenly spread throughout the year. Summers are hot and humid (with occasional heatwaves), while winters are cold and snowy. Fall and spring are mild to warm.

Radio Stations

Pittsburgh's Lone Hip Hop Radio Station Sold

Hip Hop sales are not the only facet of the music industry on the decline. The radio stations that promote this genre of music are also dwindling. According to Pittsburgh Business Times, Pittsburgh’s lone radio station for Hip Hop, WAMO (106.7 and 107.1 FM), has been sold by theSheridan Broadcasting Corporation to St. Joseph Missions for $8.9 million.

Along with this sale, St. Joseph Missions is expected to change the formatting of the radio station to religious programming. A startling change that is sure to have many Hip Hop fans retreating to their MP3 players and CDs. As a result of this, 35 employees at WAMO have also been let go as the effects of the recession have seemingly been felt again.

While this may have been startling news to some, not everyone was disappointed. Particularly Hip Hop artist and fans who were not fond of the Hip Hop music that WAMOplayed. In an interview on RealTalkExpress, local Hip Hop artists expressed their unfavorable opinions about radio station. 

 

DJ Buscrates explained,“It’s not that big of a deal to me, because you know, they play top 40 (on the billboard charts). They not really in it for cats like me.” RapperStretch seemed to have similar sentiments. “Seems like they already sold out in my eyes. Do we hear anything but what’s mainstream out there on WAMO?”

However, Armstead Brown seemed to provide an interesting perspective regarding this matter. “I have my criticisms of WAMO, like I do of all mainstream, Clear Channel-endorsed radio stations. They don’t play enough local music. They don’t have a wider selection. But at the same time, it’s the main Hip Hop station in Pittsburgh. Pittsburgh needs a vehicle for Hip Hop.”

Regardless of the opinions of local fans and artist, losing WAMO certainly leaves a gap that no radio station has stepped forward to fill at the current moment. According to the Radio Business Report, “Sheridan was the only company serving the African American population of Pittsburgh which comprises only about seven percent of the market’s population.” The publication then went on to state that it expects “at least one” operator to fill the void that WAMO will be leaving vacant.

A Touch of History

For the huge numbers of African Americans fleeing the South in the post-Civil War 1880s, few destinations held as much promise as the booming city of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Hoping for jobs in the steel and railroad industries and escape from the Jim Crow segregationist laws of the Reconstruction-era South, blacks flocked to Pittsburgh and specifically to the Hill District, a neighborhood close to downtown but up against steep hills that made it an undesirable living location for the city’s upper classes. Though Pittsburgh was by no means free of racial prejudice, African Americans formed tight communities in the Hill District, a city-within-a-city nationally recognized by the 1930s as a mecca of black culture and business. It was home to one of the country’s most vibrant jazz scenes and one of the finest teams in baseball, the Negro League Pittsburgh Crawfords, who played in Greenlee Field, the first black-owned and black-built baseball park in America.

ANNUAL EVENTS

  1. African American Heritage Day Parade 
    (October)  Always held the 1st Saturday of October each year in downtown Pittsburgh, PA. 

    Starting at the upper level parking lot of the old civic arena and ending at the august Wilson center. 2012 celebrates our 25th year of existence.

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  3. Ed's Annual Old School Get-Together in Mellon Park 
    (June)   Held at the Corner of Fifth and Penn Avenue - Pittsburgh, PA (412) 537-2484 

    This is a Free event. Bring your own food, lawn chairs, listen to some great music, no alcohol allowed! 

ENTERTAINMENT

1.CJ's in the Strip -  Category: Restaurant and Lounge-  2901-2911 Penn Avenue - Pittsburgh, PA (412) 642-2377  

2.Crawford Grill On The Hill -  Category: Soul Food - Jazz Music -  2141 Wylie Ave - Pittsburgh, PA 15219 (412) 471-1565  

3.Dowe's On Ninth -  Category: Soul Food - Theater -  121 Ninth Street - Pittsburgh, PA (412) 281-9225

4.Galaxy Lounge & Entertainment Center -  Category: Live Entertainment -  7246 Kelly Street - Pittsburgh, PA (412) 727-1395  

5.720 Music, Clothing & Cafe -  Category: Poetry -  4405 Butler St - Pittsburgh, PA (412) 904-4592.

But as the century moved forward, deteriorating infrastructure hung as a shadow over the neighborhood. In 1943, City Councilman George E. Evans wrote that “approximately 90 per cent of the buildings in the area are sub-standard… and so there would be no social loss if these were all destroyed.” Regardless of whether the Hill’s buildings were in need of repair, the city was really in search of a place to build the new Civic Arena, and chose to demolish the Lower Hill District in 1956 to create a building site. This led to the displacement of 8,000 residents over the next five years, creating even more over-crowding in the Middle and Upper Hill neighborhoods. This caused the demise of much of the city’s cultural vibrancy, and effectively altered the character of the Hill to the present day.

Photos: Top: Josh Gibson, who was known as "The Black Babe Ruth," surrounded by fans of one of Pittsburgh's two Negro League baseball teams, the Homestead Grays

AFRICAN AMERICAN CULTURE

A Touch of History Continued

Furthermore, after World War II, Pittsburgh as a whole entered a period of economic decline as the city lost increasing numbers of jobs and people to the suburbs and to overseas manufacturing. During this time, Pittsburgh’s African-American population actually grew and gained a larger share of the city’s total – reaching about 12% in 1950 – but continued to face unfair employment practices and barriers to where they could live. From the early 1950s through the 1960s, the unemployment rate of blacks was more than double that of whites, and income discrepancies were rampant. Although the city passed a municipal fair employment practices ordinance in 1953, the Pittsburgh area office accounted for nearly 25% of all discrimination complaint cases statewide.

August Wilson’s Fences is set in 1957, a landmark year in the early Civil Rights Movement: it was the year that Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his famous “Give Us the Ballot” speech during the Prayer Pilgrimage for Freedom, and Congress passed the first Civil Rights Act since Reconstruction. Wilson’s play focuses on the daily African-American experience rather than the important events of the era, reminding us how slowly the effects of the Civil Rights Movement were felt by the average citizen.

Bottom: Pittsburgh's Hill District circa 1956, after the demolition for, and beginning of construction of, the Civic Arena (top right)

AFRICAN AMERICAN MUSEUM 

African American Program | Heinz History Center

The African American Collection comprised of archives and museum artifacts located at the History Center, is dedicated to the preservation, dissemination, and interpretation of the life, history, and culture of Africans and African Americans in Western Pennsylvania.

 

Address: 1212 Smallman St. Pittsburgh, PA 15222

Hours: Closed today

Phone: (412)-454-6000

Hours:10AM TO 5PM

Monday            10AM–5PM

Tuesday            10AM–5PM

Wednesday      10AM–5PM

Thursday          10AM–5PM

Friday                10AM–5PM

Saturday           10AM–5PM

Sunday              10AM–5PM

 

In addition to the institutional operations, the African American Collection has a committee of dedicated community volunteers, the African American Advisory Committee that assists with educational and public programming and serves as the History Center’s liaison to the African American community of Western Pennsylvania.

MISSION STATEMENT

 

The African American Collections are dedicated to the preservation, dissemination and interpretation of the life, history, and culture of Africans and African Americans in Western Pennsylvania. This work is accomplished through research, artifact and archival collecting, consulting, educational programming, exhibitions, and public outreach.

 

The emphasis of the African American Collection is to collect historically and culturally significant materials written, owned, generated by, created, used and/or related to African American people, living or deceased.

 

To donate materials to the African American Collection, please contact Samuel W. Black, director of African American Programs, at 412-454-6391 or swblack@heinzhistorycenter.org.

August Wilson Center for African American Culture

August Wilson Center for African American Culture is a U.S. nonprofit arts organization based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania that presents performing and visual arts programs that celebrate the contributions. 

Address: 980 Liberty Ave, Pittsburgh, PA 15222

Phone: ((412) 471-6070

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The sleekly modern August Wilson Center offers multiple exhibition galleries, a 472-seat theater for performances in all genres, an education center for classes, lectures and hands-on learning, and dazzling spaces for community programs and events.The African American Cultural Center is the non-profit organization that owns the August Wilson venue.

AFRICAN AMERICAN ARTS

1.African American Art Gallery -  Category: Arts & Culture -   105 Nassau St, New York, NY (212) 233-0422

2.Bill Hodges Gallery -  Category: Arts & Culture -   24 W 57th St # 606 - New York, NY (212) 333-2640.

3.Brooklyn Underground Railroad Museum -  Category: Arts & Culture -   227 Duffield St, Brooklyn, NY (347) 731-5481

4.Canvas Paper and Stone Gallery -  Category: Arts & Culture - Canvas Paper and Stone Gallery is a contemporary fine art venue located in Harlem NY. -   2611 8th Avenue - New York, NY (212) 694-1747.

5.Duke Ellington Circle -  Category: Arts & Culture -   110th Street and Fifth Avenue, Manhattan, New York 

6.Hatch-Billops Collection Inc -  Category: Arts & Culture -   2491 Broadway # 7 - New York, NY (212) 694-1747  

7.Heart of Brooklyn -  Category: Arts & Culture -   789 Washington Avenue, Brooklyn, NY (718) 638-7700

8.Kenkeleba Gallery -  Category: Arts & Culture -   214 East 2nd Street - New York, NY (212) 674-3939..

9.Marth Henry Inc. Fine Art -  Category: Arts & Culture -   400 East 57th Street, Suite 7L - New York, NY (212) 308-2759 ..

The Afro American Music Institute

The Afro American Music Institute is a 501(c)3 charitable organization.  You tax deductible contribution keeps our lessons and programming including The Boys Choir Of Pittsburgh, Jazz Lab and Summer Music Intensive affordable.  Make either a monthly donation or a one-time gift in any amount. 

Address: 7131 Hamilton Avenue Pittsburgh, PA. 15208

Phone: (412)-241-6775

Hours:10AM TO 5PM

Monday             4PM–8PM

Tuesday             4PM–8PM

Wednesday       4PM–8PM

Thursday           4PM–8PM

Friday                4PM–8PM

Saturday           10AM–4PM

Sunday             CLOSED

​Free and open to the public. (Donations gratefully accepted.) 

Afro American Music Institute celebrate 34 years in the community by reviving the Saturday Music Forum hosted by Bashir Ansari, vocalist and pianist. Come spend a Saturday afternoon in a wholesome atmosphere. From 1 - 4 PM, AAMI offers an Open House. 

If you want to showcase your abilities, Afro-American Music Institute is the place! Bring your friends and family to listen to and appreciate the arts in our community from 4 - 7 PM. Then return, every 4th Saturday of the month, to experience and enjoy live entertainment by the present and future stars who walk among you. For more information,

call 412-241-67

City of Pittsburgh Sites (3)

Beulah Baptist Church

  • 201 Chalfont St.

  • Pittsburgh, PA 15210

  • Region: City of Pittsburgh

Brief History

Organized in 1901, the congregation built a wood-frame church in 1911 to provide moral, social and spiritual leadership to blacks in the area. A fire in 1946 destroyed the building, and a new church was built the next year. At its height in the 1940s and 1950s, the congregation included 125 members, but has since dwindled considerably.

Bigham House

  • 655 Pennridge Rd.

  • Chatham Village

  • Pittsburgh, PA 15211

  • Region: City of Pittsburgh

Brief History 

Identified as one of the many Underground Railroad stations in the Pittsburgh area, this site housed escaped slaves from the South who were seeking freedom in the North.

Billy Eckstine (1914-1993)

  • 5913 Bryant St.

  • Pittsburgh, PA 15206

  • Region: City of Pittsburgh

His smooth baritone and distinctive vibrato broke down barriers throughout the 1940s, first as leader of the original bop big-band, then as the first romantic black male in popular music. Began singing at the age of seven and entered many amateur talent shows. Was hired by fellow Pittsburgher Earl "Fatha" Hines to join his Grand Terrace Orchestra in 1939 and by 1943, gained a trio of stellar bandmates—Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Parker, and Sarah Vaughan. After forming his own big band that year, he hired all three and gradually recruited still more modernist figures and future stars including Dexter Gordon, Miles Davis, Fats Navarro, and another Pittsburgher, Art Blakey. The Billy Eckstine Orchestra was the first bop big-band, and its leader reflected bop innovations by stretching vocal harmonics into normal ballads.

Hit the charts often during the mid-'40s, with Top Ten entries including "A Cottage for Sale" and "Prisoner of Love." Made the transition to string-filled balladry with ease and recorded more than a dozen hits during the late '40s, including "My Foolish Heart" and "I Apologize." Returned to jazz roots, making several albums during the early '60s (one with his son Ed who was the president of Mercury). Appeared on Motown for a few standards albums during the mid-'60s. After recording very sparingly during the '70s, made his last recording, Billy Eckstine Sings with Benny Carter, in 1986. He died of a heart attack in 1993.

African American History

Take a journey through more than 200 years of the African-American experience in southwestern Pennsylvania. One hundred sites of local, regional and national significance are represented in this first-ever tour guide of African-American history in the region.

The goal of this guide of African-American historic sites in the region is to inform the public about the extensive history and also to draw attention to the need for preservation and reuse of many of the sites featured.

Visitors to Pittsburgh, long-time natives, and students are encouraged to use this site guide as a resource for exploring the rich depth and breadth of African-American history—from the Underground Railroad to the jazz era.

 

This list is not designed to be exhaustive but to represent a cross section of sites with major significance to the development of the Pittsburgh region’s African-American community. This project, compiled by the Young Preservationists Association of Pittsburgh, was supported by a grant from thePennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission and the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development.

City of Pittsburgh Sites

Allen Chapel AME Church

  • 1810 Fulton St.

  • Pittsburgh, PA 15233

  • Region: City of Pittsburgh

Brief History

This black congregation was founded in the 1860s in the Hill District at Arthurs Street. In 1889, it moved to Manchester as one of the first black churches in that community. Considered to be one of the most valuable community landmarks, this is one of the oldest AME churches on the North Side and has long served to unite blacks in Manchester through moral and social leadership.

Ammon Recreation Center

  • 2217 Bedford Ave.

  • Pittsburgh, PA 15219

  • Region: City of Pittsburgh

Brief History

Built in 1940, this was one of the few recreation centers that the City of Pittsburgh built for blacks in the Hill District. Also used by whites, it is one of the oldest existing recreation centers for blacks in Pittsburgh and had one of the first public outdoor pools for blacks.

Art Blakey (1919-1990)

  • 617 Chauncey St.

  • Pittsburgh, PA 15219

  • Region: City of Pittsburgh

Brief History

A founder of the “hard bop” school of jazz, drummer Blakey grew up here and got his start with Billy Eckstine’s band. Blakey’s group, The Jazz Messengers, featured Hank Mobley, Freddie Hubbard, Horace Silver and Wynton Marsalis. He was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Grammy in 2005.

Avery College

  • 619 E. Ohio St.

  • Pittsburgh, PA 15212

  • Region: City of Pittsburgh

Brief History

Founded in 1849 by Charles Avery (1784-1858), Methodist lay preacher, philanthropist and abolitionist, the college provided post-secondary education for African Americans and served as an Underground Railroad location.

Bedford Dwellings

  • Bedford Avenue

  • (between Somers Avenue and Chauncey Drive)

  • Pittsburgh, PA 15219

  • Region: City of Pittsburgh

Brief History

Completed in 1940, Bedford Dwellings was among the first public housing projects in the nation, was built at a cost of $2,500,000, and could accommodate 1,700 people. According to many black residents, Bedford Dwellings provided insufficient space for residents, many of whom had larger families. Prior to Bedford Dwellings’ construction, Greenlee Field occupied the land from 1933 to 1938 and served as a major playing field for the Negro Leagues baseball sandlot teams. Prior to that, it was the site of Lincoln Memorial Cemetery (c. 1830s).

City of Pittsburgh Sites Continued

August Wilson (1945-2005) Home

  • 1727 Bedford Ave.

  • Pittsburgh, PA 15219

  • Region: City of Pittsburgh

Brief History

The co-founder of Pittsburgh’s Black Horizon Theater, August Wilson wrote ten plays that have been hailed as a unique triumph in American literature. The plays cover each decade of the 20th century and most focus on African-American life in the Hill District. Two of the plays, "Fences" and "The Piano Lesson," won Pulitzer prizes for best drama in 1987 and 1990; "Fences" also won Broadway's Tony Award. The rear of this site is Wilson's birthplace.

Avery Memorial AME Zion Church

  • 3403 California Ave.

  • Pittsburgh, PA 15212

  • Region: City of Pittsburgh

Brief History

Identified as one of the many Underground Railroad stations in the Pittsburgh area, this site reputedly housed escaped slaves from the South en route to freedom in the North, often to Canada. This church was part of the extensive network of anti-slavery holdings in the Pittsburgh area.

Bethel AME Church

  • 2720 Webster Ave.

  • Pittsburgh, PA 15219

  • Region: City of Pittsburgh

Brief History

The first AME church west of the Allegheny Mountains, Bethel AME was organized in 1818 in a downtown home by three freed men, James Coleman, George Coleman, and Abraham Lewis, in an alley near the "Way House" between Third and Fourth Avenues near Smithfield Street. It housed the first school for blacks in Pittsburgh. The congregation moved to Wylie Avenue and Elm after the second church downtown was burned in the fire of 1845. A new structure was built in 1906. The church sponsored the Arnett Literary Society, a black literary club, and owned Lincoln Memorial Cemetery.

City of Pittsburgh Sites

Brown Chapel AME Church

  • 1400 Boyle St.

  • Pittsburgh, PA 15212

  • Region: City of Pittsburgh

Services: Sun: 11am

Brief History

This black church was organized in 1837 to 1838 and was the second AME congregation west of the Allegheny Mountains. It represents the cohesiveness and early community-building skills of blacks faced with limited resources in Allegheny. The church bonded the black community of the North Side and provided moral, social and spiritual leadership.

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MUSIC CONCERTS