East Liberty is a diverse neighborhood in Pittsburgh with a notable skyline—the East Liberty Presbyterian Church. The neighborhood’s history 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 area’s name comes 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).

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The community 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 this neighborhood!).

East Liberty

In 2014, USA Today named this changing neighborhood 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.

East Liberty

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 area with many new commercial and residential products developed or under development.

12 thoughts on “East Liberty”

  1. When I was growing up in the late 40’s/early 50’s, my grandmother always took the family to Joyce McClements for dinner. There was a bakery(?) on the right when you came in the door and the dining room was in the back. And leave it to a kid to remember this. The toilet seats in the ladies room lifted automatically into an ultraviolet(?) casing.

    1. Chris Sanker Maglich

      In the 50’s and early 60’s my father, John Sanker ( Sanker’s Bakery in Garfield/Stanton Heights) supplied the baked goods for Joyce McClements restaurant. As a young child I sometimes got to go with him to make deliveries. He made a special cake for them that we called “Joyce Cream Pie.” It was a domed shape cake with layers of cream filling/vanilla cake iced with a marshmallow cream, then covered entirely with fresh shredded coconut. It was very popular & yummy. I haven’t thought about that in years!!

  2. I remember when they closed Penn Avenue to traffic and created that awful Penn Circle that went around the business area. In my opinion that was the cause of the decline. It’s nice to see that the area is coming back. I left Pittsburgh in 1970, but have been back a few times to visit.

  3. Betty Murphy Oswalt

    I graduated from West Penn Hospital School of Nursing in 1952. Is the hospital and Nurses Home still there? 4900 Friendship Ave.

  4. Joanne garone melucci

    I would go to east liberty every sat and go into each fives an dime. We would eat at Murphy’s and get a hot beef sand with gravy when I was 16 I worked in Murphy’s shoe dept until I grad from high school

  5. Does anybody remember the Villa De marilac. It was a nursing home run by nuns. My great aunt was in charge. Her name was sister Theonella. My great grandma was also a resident. We used to visit all the time back in late 60s and early 70s.

    1. Are you talking about the Little Sisters of the Poor? They had a place on Penn Avenue near Aiken, if I remember.

      1. No I have the name right, also remember a Stumpfs market. I don’t remember the street name but it was up on a hill. I will have to google it. The Mother was Mother Gregory. I believe they may have been connected

  6. It is on Stanton avenue. Apparently still there by way different. I I’ll have to look up it’s history

  7. Richard L Tambellini

    My family moved me to Pittsburgh when I was 13. I attended many baseball games at Forbes Field and understood what “Chicken on the Hill” meant. Anyone else???? Also, from my memory banks: 1) We had to drive through the Liberty “tubes” daily, 2) Back in the day, the sky was much darker (steel smoke), 3) Appeared on the Paul Shannon adventure hour several times for Scouts or Muscular Distrophy back yard carnivals, 4) and yes, I recall frequenting Penn’s Market with my dad to buy the day’s produce. Finally – In all my travels, never have found real Italian Bread like in Pittsburgh – Thin crisp crust, soft white center. ’nuff said!

  8. East Liberty was recognized as early as 1819 Jacob Negley and his wife Barbara Ann Winebiddle
    started a school house later to become East Liberty Presbyterian Church

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