Hazelwood is located in the eastern part of the city of Pittsburgh. Greenfield and Oakland border it’s north side, Squirrel Hill and Glen Hazel to the east and The Monongahela River to the southwest.
The year 1758 saw a large portion of land purchased for $10,000 from Native American tribes under the Stanwix Treaty that would later be part of Hazelwood and Greenfield.
Large hazelnut trees that once flourished on the banks of the Monongahela river are the area’s namesake. Settlers at that time were primarily of Scottish descent, settling the area that was known then as Scotch Bottom. This area comprised Four Mile Run (lower Greenfield) to Six Mile Ferry. John Woods, one of the first settlers, was a politician who built Hazel Hill estate in the area in 1784. This estate is still standing, as the second oldest stone building in Pittsburgh, after the Fort Pitt Blockhouse. Hazelwood became known for it’s large tracts of farms which attracted more settling and wealth.
The railroad’s first track in Hazelwood was built by B.F. Jones of the Pittsburgh and Connellsville Railroad, later Jones and Laughlin. This track was set inland out of respect for the residents’ concern for the river bank and the scenic views. Later, separating the neighborhood into two distinct sections… the lower section known as “below the tracks”.
Hazelwood was incorporated into the city of Pittsburgh in 1869 and the following year saw the railway spur into iron, steel, railroading and boat building enterprises.
In the late 19th Century Hazelwood was a populous and vibrant town. The 1950’s saw similar growth, with over 200 businesses. The area was very diverse, with people of Italian, Hungarian, Russian, Polish, Slovak and Irish descent. the 1980’s saw a decline in the steel industry in Pittsburgh, and thus Hazelwood. The neighborhood was the site of Pittsburgh’s last operating steel mill, the Hazelwood Coke Works. It closed in 1998.
The Pittsburgh region’s renaissance has seen an effort to revitalize this historic neighborhood as well with many abandoned buildings razed or repurposed and new ones constructed as well. Parks and recreation areas are getting make-overs. There are currently plans in the works to bring this vital, historic and once vibrant neighborhood back to the glory it saw in building Pittsburgh.