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Pittsburgh : a tale of two cities

 

In the season 3 of the TV show weeds, one of the main character claims that " There are many safe and ethnically diverse neighborhoods in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania." Quoting every neighborhood, the show screenwriters forgot one : Homewood.

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Once a thriving neighborhood, Homewood has been left out of the general urban renovation policies known as Renaissance I and Renaissance II.

First, the neighborhood was affecting by « redlining » policies : maps created by banking institutions in order to classify neighborhoods between those fitted for investment or not… such as Homewood. That led to a perverse effect as « red » neighborhoods were usually black neighborhoods, following the history of segregation in america, in this case, economic segregation.

Second, the Martin Luther King riots in 1968 led to the white flight out of Homewood, white people leaving the neighborhood to suburbs. Nowadays, Homewood is affected by a multiplicity or urban issues such as a lack of public transports as people have difficulties going to Homewood or leaving the neighborhood at certain hours. 
The neighborhood could be considered as a « food desert » as they are limited grocery stores offering simple foods at an expensive price.  

Finally, criminality is also a problem, one of the coffeeshop of the neighborhood accepts only credit cards as a way to deal with eventual robberies. As one would walk in the neighborhood, feelings of loneliness and sadness would hit you : vacant lots surrounding habitated houses, or whole line of blighted houses with just one where somebody is living

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Homewood is best described as an island of decay in a sea of prosperity as other Pittsburgh areas are doing way better as well as the city itself has now turned from the industrial city towards one trying to organize itself around innovating technologies 

However, the neighborhood is not abandonned, in fact, it is composed of around 7 or 8 community organizations that try to raise awareness, estabishing goals for it, and even leading some community organizations to some « DIY urbanism » which is taking care of your neighborhood by yourself. 

Concerning the city as a whole, there is an interest for the neighborhood, as some parts are being renovated : green lawns, white barriers, clean houses for instance.  
When facing this reality, inhabitants would call these parts of the neighborhood « a whole different world » 

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The point is that the city of Pittsburgh is not trying to develop the neighborhood, as development includes social issues. 
In other words, the city only tries to bring back economic capital, avoiding social issues leading to expulsions in Homewood. 

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