"Sugar Top" and the "Cobblestone Jungle": Urban Redevelopment in Pittsburgh's Hill District 1955-1959

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"Sugar Top" and the "Cobblestone Jungle": Urban Redevelopment in Pittsburgh's Hill District 1955-1959

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Title: "Sugar Top" and the "Cobblestone Jungle": Urban Redevelopment in Pittsburgh's Hill District 1955-1959
Author: Steiner, Lilian McKibbin
Advisor: Friedman, Andrew
Department: Haverford College. Dept. of History
Type: Thesis (B.A.)
Issue Date: 2010
Abstract: From 1955 to 1963, the city of Pittsburgh implemented a redevelopment movement to remove the Hill District, a slum that stood between the city's two central neighborhoods. The Pittsburgh Redevelopment Movement viewed the mostly African American Hill District as a "blighter barrier" to the city's modernization. Thus, Mayor Lawrence and his government chose the Hill's lower class region, the Lower Hill, as the construction site for a Civic Arena and "Cultural Acropolis" in an attempt disintegrate this slum. The 1950s Hill District held the majority of Pittsburgh's African Americans, however it was not an enclave of black unity or solidarity. The Hill District became a space in which class struggles waged until the Civil Rights Movement, when the black middle and lower classes united as a race in response to redevelopment's threats. This study unpacks the Hill District black middle class's allowance of the Lower Hill District's destruction until 1963, when the community declared that redevelopment could continue "Not Another Inch." The Pittsburgh Courier, the black middle class's newspaper based in the Hill District, is the primary source examined by this thesis. The Courier was based in the Hill District and reflected the ways in which the black middle class imagined its class identity and its relationship with the Hill District's lower classes. Its articles revealed the counterconsciousness that caused the black middle class to adopt Pittsburgh redevelopment rhetoric and refuse to seek community solidarity along racial lines. The change in the Courier's portrayal of urban redevelopment in 1963 ended the black middle class's adoption of redevelopment rhetoric and revealed a new "black" discourse. The purpose of this study is to tease out the Pittsburgh redevelopment movement's counter-history: the history of how the Hill District ultimately redefined Pittsburgh redevelopment. This thesis examines the change in the Pittsburgh Courier's responses to the urban renewal movement, but also the change in the Urban Redevelopment Authority's actions. I will unpack the ways in which the Civil Rights and Pittsburgh redevelopment movements ultimately created a Hill District identity of "blackness." This study reveals the intricate and contradictory effects of urban renewal.
Subject: Urban renewal -- Pennsylvania -- Pittsburgh -- History
Subject: Discrimination in housing -- Pennsylvania -- Pittsburgh -- History
Subject: Hill District (Pittsburgh, Pa.) -- History
Subject: Race relations -- Pennsylvania -- Pittsburgh -- History
Terms of Use: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/us/
Permanent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10066/5247

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2010SteinerL(Abridged).pdf Abridged Thesis 3.088Mb PDF
2010SteinerL_HConly.pdf Thesis (Haverford users only) 10.00Mb PDF
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Citation

Steiner, Lilian McKibbin. ""Sugar Top" and the "Cobblestone Jungle": Urban Redevelopment in Pittsburgh's Hill District 1955-1959". 2010. Available electronically from http://hdl.handle.net/10066/5247.

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