A Brief History of East Liberty
East Liberty is a diverse neighborhood in Pittsburgh with a notable skyline—the East Liberty Presbyterian Church. The history of East Liberty began around the time of the American Revolution, when it was a free grazing area in Allegheny County a couple miles from the city of Pittsburgh. Interestingly enough, the name East Liberty came from Old English usage of a liberty as a plot of land on the outskirts of town (or in this case, just east of Pittsburgh).
East Liberty began to develop commercially in 1843 when German founder of Highland Park Alexander Negley’s granddaughter Sarah Jane Negley married Thomas Mellon. Mellon made a fortune selling or renting land near East Liberty that Sarah Jane inherited. He then used those funds to finance Pittsburgh’s burgeoning industries. It was Mellon who made it his goal for East Liberty to become a place for bustling transportation in the ‘burgh (Pittsburgh’s first trolley lines passed through East Liberty!).
In 2014, USA Today named East Liberty one of the 10 best up-and-coming neighborhoods in the United States—pretty cool! East Liberty also has some contest winners in their mix. In a contest sponsored by Verizon Wireless for the “Best Church Choir in America,” the Remnant Choir from Mt. Ararat Baptist Church took second place and $20,000 in prize money.
While this is not exactly “fun,” it turns out positive—during the 1960s, East Liberty became a neighborhood down on its luck. There were over 500 businesses in the neighborhood at the end of the ’50s but by 1979, only 98 remained. It has since undergone a renaissance and become a thriving retail and business. The history of East Liberty is being rewritten in modern times.