City Stories

The East Side of Pittsburgh

east side pittsburgh ghetto

The East Side Pittsburgh Ghetto Story

Pittsburgh’s largest side, the East Side is the heart of the Pittsburgh ghetto as the area expands from the Hill District to Wilkinsburg while having numerous ‘hoods and urban communities in between.

During the era of Pittsburgh’s gang bangin’ days Bloods, Crips, and the LAW gang (Larimer Avenue Wilkinsburg) ran the East Side by creating one of Pennsylvania’s most active communities.

While being the most active section within the Pittsburgh ghetto, the East Side was once home to blocks like Alley Mob and Formosa Way or cliques like the Hazelwood Mob and the LAW Gang, as previously stated.

east side pittsburgh ghetto

Bentley Drive of Addison Terrace in the Hill District.

The once heart of the streets of the Pittsburgh East Side was the old housing projects, from the Hill District’s Allequippa Terrace and Addison Terrace to Garfield Heights to the Pennly Park Apartments, aka the East Liberty Towers.

The reputation of the Pittsburgh ghetto on the East Side included the community of Homewood, which is broken down into Downtown, Uptown, and the Mohler Projects and one of the city’s first areas to have Crip gangs.

A once rival to Homewood was Lincoln Avenue, a former Crip neighborhood that is located in the Lincoln Lemington Belmar community with subsets or ‘hoods like 2-4-7 or the Afghan Projects of Lemington Heights.

east side pittsburgh

Lincoln Avenue gang graffiti 

Garfield, a large Blood ‘hood that once consisted of the Garfield Heights housing project and Aiken Avenue was also known for feuds with numerous East Side areas, especially Larimer Avenue.

Another Bloods neighborhood was the East Hills housing complex, rebuilt during the mid-2000s this area changed during the 1970s as many of the former residents left the area and by the 1990s the community was established as East Hills would feud against the surrounding neighborhoods.

east side pittsburgh ghetto

East Hills gang graffiti

The link between Larimer Avenue and Wilkinsburg, which is home to areas like Trillside and City Bound, is unknown but the two neighborhoods became one of Pennsylvania’s most known gangs.

These areas have changed drastically from previous generations and it should be noted that the city is not active with gang bangin’ and above is the notion of what the streets were like during the 1990s and 2000s, not the 2010s as new generations have moved on.

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History of Pittsburgh East Side

In the heart of Western Pennsylvania is the city of Pittsburgh, nicknamed the “Steel City” for how important the steel industry was to the city’s growth and to the story of the Pittsburgh ghetto.

The beginning of Pittsburgh’s black history started with the Hill District, which was once known as the “Harlem of Pittsburgh” and the heart of the city’s African-American culture during the early and mid-1900s.

A mural painted on a vacant row house in the Hill District that visualizes Jazz and the community’s once entertainment district

After the city built the Civic Arena in the lower Hill District, many people were forced to relocate to different parts of the city and most moved into Homewood and nearby neighborhoods of the East Side, as well into most of the city’s housing projects.

The East Side has the most history with the historic Hill District community that was known for entertainment and the city’s black business district, basically a very successful and supportive area of black excellence.

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Today’s East Side Pittsburgh

Today the East Side of Pittsburgh is heavily changing as the city’s black population in the neighborhoods within the city limits are moving into other communities like Penn Hills or Mon Valley, which are outside of the city. 

While in the Hill District, most of the community’s housing projects have been mostly demolished or rebuilt, while blocks from Bedford to Wylie have been either left for vacant or been gentrified.

pittsburgh gangs pittsburgh ghetto east side pittsburgh

The demolishing of the Reed Roberts housing complex of the Hill District, once home to the Reed Rude Boyz

Garfield, which has had a black population for generations, is experiencing gentrification along Penn Avenue that will eventually work its way into the heart of the Garfield neighborhood.

Around Larimer Avenue, the East Liberty area, which was a once famous shopping district until white residents left the area during the 1960s and 1970s, is one of the most gentrified and sought-after areas.

east side pittsburgh ghetto

Homewood, an example of East Side Pittsburgh neighborhoods before gentrification and redevelopment

The future of the East Side Pittsburgh urban communities and neighborhoods seemed to be destined for gentrification as the white residents who left the inner city by the 1960s and 1970s are anticipating their move back into the area.

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*Note: All information is provided either through people of the community, outside sources, and/or research. Some information might not be current and/or 100% accurate.

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