Allegheny Center History
Allegheny Center is located on the North Side of Pittsburgh. It was established as Allegheny City in 1783 by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania as a 3000 acre tract of land where the Allegheny River merges with the Ohio River. The original plan for Allegheny Center was created by John Redick and featured a 36 block area surrounded by a common area. This common area is still in existence today and is known as Allegheny Commons. It is bordered by the neighborhoods of Allegheny West and East Allegheny.
Allegheny City was intended to be Allegheny County’s official County Seat by the PA Legislature, so the initial central area of the 36 block plan included designes for public buildings and spaces. Among these were a post office and a market house, as well a the Boggs & Buhl Department Store. The main street in Allegheny City was East Ohio Street, running East-West through the center of the district.
Allegheny Center was the main district of Allegheny City throughout the 1800s. It was the home of the Allegheny Post Office, and the old Carnegie Free Library of Allegheny. Pittsburgh annexed Allegheny City in 1907, and it became part of Pittsburgh’s North Side neighborhoods. As Pittsburgh grew, the area began to change. In 1902, the Allegheny Country Club, founded in 1895, moved to Sewickley as the wealthier residents of Allegheny Center migrated towards the suburbs. As the Great Depression swept through the country, businesses in the area began to close and along with World War II, much investment in the area declined. The Boggs & Buhl Department Store, long a favorite, finally closed in 1958.
Throughout the 1950s, community leaders held discussions on revitalizing historic Allegheny City and finally decided on a plan for a “modern” Allegheny Center. Razing over 500 buildings, Alcoa Properties, Inc. invested in a commercial and residential project designed by architects Deeter & Ritchey that became known as Allegheny Center Mall. It originally included a shopping mall, 50 townhomes, over 800 apartments in 4 large buildings and 2 professional buildings. The public square in Allegheny Center was designed as the result of a competition sponsored by the Pittsburgh Urban Redevelopement Authority. This entire project covered almost 80 acres.
Opening in 1965, Allegheny Center Mall was anchored by Zayre, Woolworth’s and Sears. The initial success was fleeting, however, as the project turned a walkable Pittsburgh neighborhood into a concrete urban barrier on top of a parking garage. When I-279 was completed, it also drew more residents to shop in the northern suburbs of Pittsburgh. As the 1990s approached, the stores began to close and give way to more and more commercial space. Today, the Mall is called Nova Place and contains millions of square feet of office space as well as coworking spaces and restaurants.
Main Streets in Allegheny Center
East Ohio Street leads into Allegheny Center from the North Side and I-279. Cedar Avenue, North Ave., Brighton Road, Ridge Street and Merchant Avenue make up the streets ringing this neighborhood.
Parks In Allegheny Center
Allegheny Commons Park is actually most of the area that comprises Allegheny Center. Due to the development in the neighborhood, it has been split into Allegheny Commons, Allegheny Commons West and Allegheny Commons Park North.
Places To Visit in Allegheny Center
Allegheny Center boasts several desirable Pittsburgh attractions. Among them are:
The National Aviary
Founded in 1952, the National Aviary is nation’s only indoor non-profit zoo dedicated to birds and is located in Allegheny Center. It’s home to more than 500 birds representing 150 species and a lot of them are endangered. The Aviary features a walk-through experience unlike any other, and allows you to be up-close and personal with many of the birds they protect.
700 Arch Street, Pittsburgh, PA 15212
The Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh
Since 1983 the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh has been located in the old Allegheny Center post office. Recently ranked as one of the top 10 Children’s Museums in the U.S., it’s a great learning experience for children, adults and families alike!
10 Children’s Way, Pittsburgh, PA 15212
The New Hazlett Theater (in the old Carnegie Library)
Built in 1889 as the first Carnegie Music Hall and threatened with demolition in 1967, the community stepped in and revived the old theater. Named the Hazlett Theater in honor of Theodore L. Hazlett, Jr. in 1980, it was home to the Pittsburgh Public Theater for 24 years. In 2004 it was re-named the New Hazlett Theater and supports the local arts community with a variety of exhibitions and performances.
6 Allegheny Square East, Pittsburgh, PA 15212
Lake Elizabeth in Allegheny Commons Park West
Lake Elizabeth was conceived in 1868 and has been through many transformations since. Drained in 1930 and used as a scrap yard, it was revitalized to it’s current condition in 2002 with a master plan that called for the preservation of the Simonds & Simonds landscape and the restoration of the greater Allegheny Commons.
Read about Lake Elizabeth right here.
Allegheny Center is also just a few blocks from PNC Park, on Pittsburgh’s North Side, and Heinz Field. Along with the Pirates and Steelers, many events are held at each of these venues.
Allegheny Center Zip Code
The entire Allegheny Center neighborhood is located within Pittsburgh’s 15212 zip code.
Pittsburgh Neighborhoods Bordering Allegheny Center
Allegheny East – Deutschtown
Central North Side