Larimer is a neighborhood that has, apparently, seen better days.

William Larimer, who made his fortune in railroads in the Pittsburgh area before moving westward and founding a little town called Denver, CO, built a manor house in the area. Larimer’s daughter married James Mellon, son of Thomas (yes, that Thomas Mellon) and the land that eventually became the neighborhood of Larimer was incorporated into Mellon’s holdings. After initially being settled by German immigrants, Larimer saw an influx of Italian immigrants. So many, in fact, that the neighborhood was Pittsburgh’s original Little Italy. (Than you, wikipedia)

During the 1960s, Larimer experienced textbook white flight and now the area is home to a largely African-American population. The housing stock is beautiful, though there seem to be nearly as many abandoned properties as lived-in ones. Gang tags (as well as some gorgeous graffiti) are on many of the buildings; houses, warehouses, churches etc.

Despite the sometimes bleak atmosphere, Larimer has several public gardens with painted artwork. There are murals that adorn blighted buildings. And underneath years of neglect and decay, many of the houses and buildings still retain their original beauty

urban decay in larimer

Larimer is filled with houses that are abandoned and in various states of disrepair.

stagno’s bakery

According to a man I spoke with, the Stagno family was one of the prominent Italian families that lived in Larimer. In 2007, a man was fatally shot in front of the bakery in broad daylight. The bakery is no longer operational.

larimer graffiti

Many of the buildings in Larimer are covered in crude gang tags. Some of the buildings, however, feature beautiful pieces like these.

our lady help of christians catholic church

This church that sits on Meadow Street has remained empty for some years. Originally catering to the large Italian population, the church was later used for smaller black congregations until ultimately ending up vacant.

A passerby noticed me taking a picture and came to speak with me. He told me that he once attended a service in the church 20 years ago. We talked for a bit about the changing neighborhood demographics and how unfortunate it was that the church had remained empty all these years. He shook his head and said, “It’s a shame that some folks leave and they think souls don’t need saving anymore.”

signs of life

Larimer isn’t uniformly bleak; there are several community gardens.

75 years? sonny must have a lot of money

parting shot- larimer

It’d be silly to think that by biking around the streets for a few hours, I’d be able to capture the essence of a neighborhood. Honestly, I don’t know what I’ll be able to capture besides a a couple pictures and some random thoughts by just spending a few hours in a place. My goal is not to provide a thumbs-up/thumbs-down rating of each neighborhood, or to list all the cultural spots, or to take every beautiful photograph, or to talk with every resident and get a true understanding of each neighborhood. I don’t think one can get a true understanding of a place by being there for an hour, or a day, or a week or even a year. My goal is…well maybe I don’t quite have one. I want to see Pittsburgh, neighborhood by neighborhood, day by day, and then, maybe, I can begin to put together some goals/themes/ideas for this blog. But for now, it’s just one neighborhood at a time.


2 Responses to Larimer

  1. Anonymous says:

    I really appreciate the fact you did not criticize the neighborhood as being ghetto or talking down. You mentioned that was not your goal to rate each neighborhood but to capture it for what it is. Major Kudos!

  2. Pingback: The “Mean Streets” of Pittsburgh – Criminal Elements

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