A Brief History of the Bluff (Uptown)
The Bluff (Uptown) is a neighborhood in Pittsburgh bordered by the Hill District and is home to Mercy Hospital and Duquesne University. Frontiersmen and colonists originally called the area Ayer’s Hill, honoring the British commander Ayers from the 1700s. The area was then referred to as Boyd’s Hill. The name was said to be (morbidly!) given after a businessman left his office downtown and hanged himself on the hill. Uptown was originally part of Pitt Township but annexed in 1846. A devastating 1845 fire halted efforts at regrowth of the Bluff area, as it obliterated 56 acres. Now, construction to expand Duquesne University has taken place, as well as development of the new PPG Paints Arena.
The Bluff (Uptown) was first developed by an eccentric Brit named James Tustin, who grew a fruit orchard and had an English taste in architecture. A 1915 Pittsburgh Gazette-Times article dubbed the neighborhood “the most beautiful place in Pittsburgh.” Although not exactly a “fun fact,” it is worth noting the neighborhood was affected by Pittsburgh’s 1960s urban renewal campaign, as many said the community has never fully recovered. Its residents today are working to give themselves a renewed sense of identity, as its community is diverse, with Downtown office workers, longtime members, students and health professionals.