A Brief History of Hazelwood
Hazelwood is bordered by Greenfield, Oakland, Squirrel Hill, Glen Hazel and of course, the Monongahela River. In 1758, under the Stanwix Treaty with Native Americans, a large bit of woodland was bought for $10,000 and included Hazelwood and Greenfield. The name Hazelwood comes from the large amount of hazelnut trees that once were found along the Monongahela. The first settlers in Hazelwood were Scottish, settling in what locals referred to as “Scotch Bottom.” One of the original settlers, John Woods, built his estate called “Hazel Hill” in 1784 (it still stands today!). B.F. Jones built the first track of railroad in the Hazelwood area, which ended up separating it into two sections and coining the phrase “from the other side of the tracks.” Finally, in 1869, Hazelwood was initiated into the city and by 1870, steel, railroading, river trade and boat building gave Hazelwood an economic boom.
By the ’50s, the neighborhood housed hundreds of businesses and many European immigrants lived there. When the Civic Arena construction, African American families began to make the community their home. Unfortunately, when the steel industry began to decline Hazelwood did as well. The city’s very last steel mill, Hazelwood Coke Works, closed in 1998.
John Woods’ home, “Hazel Hill,” is the second oldest stone building in Pittsburgh after the Fort Pitt Blockhouse. Hazelwood has since been working to become better as a community. Abandoned buildings have been razed and children’s areas like the Lewis Playground have been updated for the young people in the area. There are many youth programs in Hazelwood and neighboring Glen Hazel. The multiple churches in the area help with building neighborhood pride and spirit. The history of Hazelwood is one of fascinating twists and turns, and is still being written today!