Spring Garden is a thin, almost crescent-shaped neighborhood on Pittsburgh’s North Side. The neighborhood sits in a pretty deep valley between Troy Hill and Spring Hill and is mainly composed of the few hundred meters of land on either side of Spring Garden Ave, the neighborhood’s main thoroughfare.
There’s a popular theory in urban studies that suggests that neighborhoods that are isolated by either natural (valleys, rivers, hills) or man-made (highways, dead-end streets) phenomena are increasingly likely to experience poverty, crime, and blight. Spring Garden, essentially tucked into a narrow valley with very few streets linking it to other neighborhoods, would be a good example for those who subscribe to neighborhood isolationist theories of urban poverty and decline.
house on a hill
While Spring Garden Ave is the neighborhood’s main thoroughfare, most of the houses in Spring Garden are stuck onto the sides of the hills that create the valley. Despite being less than a mile away from downtown Pittsburgh, the area has a decidedly Appalachian feel. As you head north away from the city, the houses become less densely spaced and it feels less suburban than straight-up boondock-ish.
spring garden avenue
Spring Garden Avenue is a long and twisting road that runs through the neighborhood. Towards the south end of the street, vacant buildings line up against one another. As the road snakes north, more vacant buildings pop up here and there, along with a dilapidated (and yes, partially vacant) strip mall. The theme here is vacancy.
spring garden ave part deux
Despite popular opinion (probably formed while reading my last downer of a post on vacancies) Spring Garden Ave is not all abandoned. For nearly 65 years, Artcraft Wood Products has been creating custom moulding at their beautiful plant.
And a bit further down the road, Marshall’s BBQ is possibly a functioning restaurant. But not while I was there.
The Germans who settled Spring Garden, and many other Pittsburgh neighborhoods, erected some incredible houses. Voskamp Street, doubtless named after one of the settling families, is the southernmost street in Spring Garden and the closest to East Allegheny, also called Deutschtown. Unfortunately, many of the once-proud houses are abandoned.
parting shot: spring garden
‘No Outlet’ signs are pretty common in Spring Garden because so many of the streets that branch out from Spring Garden Ave end at the foot of a hill where proper roads aren’t feasible. So there is no outlet. And when there is no outlet, things can kind of get stuck in a rut. Things fester, and decay and soon there is not even a need for an outlet because there’s nothing to let out.