Observatory Hill


Vibrant neighborhoods don’t just happen. They’re the result of years of hard work and effort. Investing time and money is an important part of strengthening our stellar neighborhood.

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Summer 2017 Newsletter
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In The News

Observatory Hill Development Corporation Receives Housing Opportunity Funds

At their January 2019 board meeting, the URA approved Housing Opportunity Fund and Housing loans to be granted to our Five Points Development Project which includes the renovation of three abandoned buildings in our business district.  3917, 3923 and 3925 are being renovated for both commercial and residential spaces. Two of the residential apartments will be rented to households with incomes at or below 31% of the area median income and the other four will be rented to households with incomes at or below 50% of the area median income.  Thank you to the URA for supporting our project!

Read more about it here: Public Source

Observatory Hill Development Corporation Receives State Grant

We thank Senator Wayne Fontana and State Representative Adam Ravenstahl for their support in helping our development corporation receive a state grant for $75,000.  This critical grant has closed the funding gap that was needed to begin the revitalization of our three buildings in the commercial district.  Check out the article in the Post Gazette for more details.

The Pittsburgh Post Gazette

OHI board members gathered with our neighbors, business owners, funders and local politicians as we marked the kickoff of our much anticipated facade restoration which is part of the $1.7m revitalization project slated for our commercial district.

We thank everyone who took the time to attend and we thank all of our supporters who are working in partnership with us to make this revitalization possible.  Check out these articles: 

Hops Gardens Planted on Bonvue Street

Hops gardens have been planted on the two vacant lots located on Bonvue Street adding some interesting and unique green space.  Check out all the details in this article from The Northside Chronicle written by Alyse Horn.

The Northside Chronicle

Bonvue Street Revitalization Ground Breaking Ceremonies

The wait is finally over!  In November 2016, we celebrated the kick off of our multi-million dollar real estate revitalization project on Bonvue Street.  Check out the news articles covered by the Northside Chronicle and the Pittsburgh Post Gazette.  Now, who wants to buy a house?


Pittsburgh Post Gazette

Northside Chronicle

Baytree Community Garden Awarded Sprout Fund Grant

Thank you to the Sprout Fund for their grant of $1,050 towards our ongoing effort to transform a vacant lot into a garden and a gathering space. We are working with the Riverview United Presbyterian Church to share garden beds to grow fresh vegetables for their community food bank. OHI hopes to add cozy nooks to this large space by adding seating and picnic tables so that friends and neighbors can gather.  With this funding, we will purchase additional raised garden beds, soil and fencing. 

The Sprout Fund: 18 Projects Awardees

A Profile in Redevelopment

For several years now, we have worked to get our ducks in a row to breathe new life into neglected areas of our neighborhood.  As we target our business district and Bonvue Street for these revitalization projects, we keep an eye on preservation.  

Check out this article by Courtney Linder as she takes a look at what our community leaders are doing to lead this effort.

Preserving Pittsburgh's Historic Homes

Bonvue Street Revitalization Approved for Funding by the URA

We celebrate this huge step forward in our next phase of our revitalization projects.  We could not do this important work without the help and support of our city officials and of those who have partnered with us on our journey.  We are thankful to the Urban Redevelopment Authority, to the Northside Leadership Conference and to the Northside Community Development Fund. Without these groups, we would not have the funding or the support to make these vital projects happen.

Here's Justin Criado's article from the March 2016 edition of the Northside Chronicle with the full scoop.

Observatory Hill Housing project approved by URA

 Pipitone Group Volunteers Beautify Observatory Hill

The Pipitone Group of Observatory Hill used a day of community service to help beautify the Northside neighborhood they’ve called home since 1998. The volunteer hub of the city of Pittsburgh, servePGH, and the Observatory Hill, Inc. (OHI) were also part of the efforts, which included putting up new signage at three different locations Tuesday, Sept. 12, 2015.

Read the complete article by the Northside Chronicle.

Northside/AGH Partnership Celebrates 25 Years!

Northside Chronicle

In 1989 the groundbreaking AGH Northside Partnership Agreement provided a context in which a mutually beneficial relationship could grow between Allegheny General Hospital (AGH) and the Northside community establishing a framework for a series of initiatives. Every two years since, Allegheny General Hospital and the 15 neighborhood groups organized through the Northside Leadership Conference have reaffirmed their commitment in a manner that responds to a changing environment. Central to this series of agreements is a commitment to communication, consultation and cooperation between AGH and the Northside Community.

The first of its kind in the region, the Agreement outlines six initiatives which allow the Partners to work together in good faith to realize their common goals for housing, education and employment, economic development and health of the communities.

Neighborhood Re-Investment

Allegheny General Hospital lends its support and technical assistance to neighborhood groups involved in the development of projects that address concerns affecting the physical landscapes near the Hospital proper. These neighborhood projects include purchase and infill of vacant or blighted properties and façade and streetscape improvements. Most recent improvements include the renovation of the Aeberlie building at the corner of North Avenue and Sandusky Street, and the Parkhurst Street Improvements.

Education Initiatives

Over 20 AGH employees serve as mentors to Northside Public High School students through its partnership with the Pittsburgh Public School's Start on Success program. Students work with their mentors daily to receive job readiness training and hands on experience in a modern workforce setting. Other initiatives include the Stranger Danger Awareness program in which high school students teach Northside elementary students about stranger awareness, the Allegheny Women's Biotechnology Workforce Collaborative which provides tuition and resources for Northside women interested in earning a degree in medical science, and other health career ladders available to both Northside residents and current AGH employees.

Mortgage and Marketing

AGH sponsors yearly neighborhood tours for hospital employees to visit cultural and neighborhood attractions on the Northside. The Partnership also promotes Northside neighborhood events through the use of its newsletters, communications, and displays. Homebuyer education is provided through the Workforce Home Benefit Program.

Health Improvement Initiatives

Established in 2001 by AGH and the NSLC, the Northside Health Improvement Partnership (NSHIP), whose members include AGH, NSLC and its member organizations, and other healthcare and social service providers, views its mission as measurably improving the overall health status and quality of life of Northside residents. Programming includes Access to Healthcare initiatives, the Northside Youth Summer Guide and the Northside STRIDE Walking Program.

Neighborhood Employment

AGH is committed to providing residents of the Northside community priority in hiring for new positions provided all other qualifications are equal. The goal of this prioritization is to promote the economic vitality of the Northside by increasing the number of Northside residents at work in the hospital. AGH also provides job listings to the Employment Center located at the NSLC in order to assist them in reaching qualified applicants from the Northside area.

Local Purchasing Initiatives

AGH purchases products and services from Northside businesses whenever possible. In addition, vendor fairs are held bi-annually for Northside merchants to showcase and sell their products at AGH.

Related links

North Side-Allegheny General bond still strong after 25 years (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)
Neighborhood Bonds: A Partnership Between Allegheny General Hospital & the Northside (WESA, Essential Pittsburgh)

City may complete Riverview Soccer Field by end of October

by Kelsey Shea, The Northside Chronicle
October 3, 2013

Observatory Hill could have the soccer field it’s been waiting for more than 10 years by the end of this month.The City has evened the ground, installed lights and built a retaining wall and bathrooms at the site of the future Riverview Soccer Field on Mairdale Avenue.  If all goes well, the City will have an official ribbon cutting by the end of October.

“We really want to make a splash,” said Pittsburgh Director of Operations Duane Ashley, who wants to celebrate the completion of the long-awaited project with some style.  The project to build a soccer field and recreation center behind Perry High School began in 2003 after a study showed that there were too few soccer fields within City limits.

Click here for the rest of the article.

Northside Business Owner Named Community Hero

July 13, 2013
(article taken from The Northside Chronicle)

Several employees at the Observatory marketing and communications firm, Pipitone Group, took a plunge for charity today.

Pipitone president and CEO Scott Pipitone was named the first-ever Pittsburgh Small Business Community Hero by Direct Energy and Pittsburgh Magazine for his work in the Northside community.  Pipitone employees and community members celebrated with a block party on Perrysville Avenue this afternoon and took turns trying to dunk their boss who was set up in a dunking booth.  Proceeds from the block party will benefit The Presbyterian Senior Care Foundation and the Good Grief Center for Bereavement Support.

Among several other community projects, the Pipitone Group helped fix up a monument in Historic Deutschtown last year.

Related Links about Scott Pipitone Community Hero Award:

Tribune Review Article
Direct Energy Announcement
Pipitone Group Blog

'Admiral Perry' Mural

By Jacob Axelrad / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

1. "Admiral Perry" by Kyle Holbrook and Joy Taylor, 3919 Perrysville Ave., Perry North.

Across the street from Perry Traditional Academy stands a mural of its namesake, Admiral Oliver Hazard Perry. Painted by a team of Pittsburgh artists led by Kyle Holbrook, 35, and Joy Taylor, 23, it depicts the famed commodore from the War of 1812 against the British and is dedicated to the Battle of Lake Erie.

Scenes of naval battle flank either side of Perry, who occupies the mural's center, dressed in military uniform. To his left are the words, "Don't give up the ship." To his right: "We have met the enemy and they are ours ..."The artists, working with students from Perry, completed the mural as part of the Moving the Lives of Kids (MLK) Community Mural Project, a nonprofit dedicated to involving kids in public art projects during the summer months. The goal was to encompass the history of the neighborhood and its high school.

Click here to read more.

Pittsburghese song a hit on YouTube

By Kitoko Chargois / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Singer and songwriter Ron Romanovsky speaks Pittsburghese and he's not afraid to admit it. He may have left Pittsburgh when he was 19, but whenever he comes back for a visit, it doesn't take long for him to start saying "meer" instead of mirror, "cahch" instead of couch or to invite people to "stawp aht da haus."

On his last visit to Pittsburgh, he teamed up with his longtime friend and fellow musician Janet Pazzynski to produce the music video "Pittsburgh, PA."  The song features Mr. Romanovsky singing lyrics with Pittsburghese in every line as familiar Pittsburgh scenes such as the Roberto Clemente Bridge, the Duquesne Incline and the three rivers flash by.  Ms. Pazzynski lives on Observatory Hill in the North Side, and when Mr. Romanovsky approached her about making a video to the song he had written 15 years ago, she knew it had to be filmed on the North Shore.

"The views from the North Shore are just amazing," she said. "There's so much there, you see ... Mr. Rogers and the stadiums and Bill Mazeroski. There was so much there we could use. It really, really, really represents Pittsburgh.]

"But what is Pittsburgh without the people? Each time Pittsburghese comes up in the song, the video flashes to a Pittsburgher mouthing the words. Ms. Pazzynski makes a few cameos and brought many others into the video.  Click here to read more.

Street lights initiative funded

by William Park
The Northside Chronicle

A city-wide initiative to convert high-pressure sodium streetlights in Pittsburgh’s 32 business districts to LED lights will benefit many areas in the Northside.Installations for new lights have been in progress for the past few months and will be completed by the end of the year.  The targeted streets in District 1 include East Ohio Street, California Avenue, Brighton Road, Lowrie Street and Perrysville Avenue in the Observatory Hill business district.  LED lights, both energy efficient and environmentally friendly, will reduce the district’s energy costs $650,000 a year.

On Perrysville Avenue, lights are also being installed in sidewalks, a safety measure that will make night-time walking easier.While the project will improve public safety, it also “brings about an aesthetic that we haven’t had … in our community for a long time,” said Roxanne Tuinstra, secretary of Observatory Hill Inc.  LED lights have a high color rendering index, which mean that they have the ability to reproduce an object’s color seen under natural sunlight. Sodium vapor lights, on the other hand, have a more yellow tint and also must be replaced more often.  Click here to read more.  

Observatory Hill homes open doors for tour

June 1, 2013
By Kitoko Chargois / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Jeff and Michele Heil hunted through much of the North Hills looking for a house in the suburbs. Instead, they found one in the North Side's Observatory Hill neighborhood.The couple didn't plan to stay long. But 14 years, multiple renovation projects and three children later, they couldn't imagine living anywhere else."We figured we'd live here for just a few years and probably move on to the suburbs, but we just fell in love with the area," said Mr. Heil, who grew up in Mars and married a Ligonier native.

Boasting original woodwork and "Pittsburgh Orange" brick, the Heils' five-bedroom home is one of eight featured houses on Sunday's "The Park in Our Backyard" house tour benefitting Observatory Hill Inc. The tour also includes two landmarks in historic Riverview Park.

Click here to read more.

OHI 2013 House Tour Photos Courtesy of The Northside Chronicle

Click here to view photos.

WQED-TV to Air UNDAUNTED: The Forgotten Giants of the Allegheny Observatory May 9

May 3, 2013
Contact: B. Rose Huber rhuber@pitt.edu 412-624-4356412-624-4356 Cell: 412-328-6008412-328-6008

PITTSBURGH—The public television debut of UNDAUNTED: The Forgotten Giants of the Allegheny Observatory will air at 8 p.m. May 9 on WQED-TV. The hourlong documentary chronicles the history of the University of Pittsburgh’s Allegheny Observatory, founded in 1859. It focuses on the stories of the observatory’s first director and pioneering astronomer, Samuel P. Langley (1834-1906), and telescope lens-maker John Brashear (1840-1920), who would go on to serve on the University’s Board of Trustees and as acting chancellor from 1901 to 1904.

Produced by Pitt alumnus Dan Handley (GSPH ’08), the film is titled UNDAUNTED to reflect the struggle of scientists and technicians who weathered so many failures before making great breakthroughs. The documentary depicts several examples, including that of Brashear and his wife, Phoebe, who spent years creating large refractive lenses for telescopes, only to have some lenses break accidentally. Langley studied solar phenomena, established a way to standardize time for railroad companies, and developed an aerodrome flying machine.  “Langley and Brashear were once household names because of their many astounding accomplishments. I’m hoping to bring back the recognition of what they did to advance science and technology,” said Handley. “This isn’t just a Pittsburgh story; it’s about how a few determined individuals changed the course of world history.”

Click Here to read more.

Observatory Hill abode shows couple's talent for mixing styles

June 2, 2012
By Kevin Kirkland / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Bonny Kwolek says her house, which looks down on the Allegheny Observatory, is the third highest in Pittsburgh. The other two, also in Observatory Hill, may be at a higher elevation, but "they can't have the view that we have," she said.It was a big reason that she and her husband, Jeff Wagner, bought the red-brick Craftsman-style house in 2006. "It took us five minutes. We walked up the steps to the porch, turned around and said 'This is it,' " she said.

They also loved this North Side neighborhood, with its Millionaires Row, green hills, mature trees and charming mix of houses ranging in age from the 1870s to the 1930s. Nearly half of the 10 homes on Sunday's Observatory Hill House Tour are Craftsmans, but only one was the perfect find for Ms. Kwolek and Mr. Wagner -- lots of original features, not remuddled, in a parklike setting.

Click here to read more.