Unique Urbanity: Pittsburgh's Strip District
Located just northeast of Downtown Pittsburgh, 'The Strip” is a narrow one-half mile strip of land sandwiched between the Allegheny River and a mountain of a hill.
Once lined with late 19th century residences and heavy industry, Smallman Street became the home of the Pennyslvania Railroad’s massive produce terminal in 1926. This led to several auction houses and wholesalers opening along the street between 16th and 21st Street by the 1920s. Since the early 2000s, Smallman has redeveloped into a corridor featuring a mix of wholesalers, lofts in former factory buildings, infill office, residential and commercial uses.
The Pittsburgh Produce Terminal, officially called The Pennsylvania Railroad Fruit Auction & Sales Building, the Pittsburgh Produce Terminal was completed in 1926 by the Pennsylvania Railroad. The 155,000-square-foot building spans four city blocks, due to it originally being served by railcars carrying fruit and produce that would then be auctioned off or sold to local grocery stores and restaurants. Nominated in January 2013 to become a City Historic Landmark by Preservation Pittsburgh, the Pittsburgh Urban Redevelopment Authority recently agreed to lease the structure to Chicago-based McCaffery Interests for 99 years. McCaffery intends to invest $100 million redeveloping the terminal at 1600 Smallman Street into retail, office space, an open-air market, chef incubator kitchens and flexible community outdoor space.
17. Listed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places, the St. Stanislaus Kostka Church was completed in 1892.
18. 20th Street and Smallman Street.
20. In the early 20th century, the intersection of Smallman Street and 21st Street became the hub of the wholesale produce business in Pittsburgh. Today, the intersection is the home of an innovative food hall concept called Smallman Gallery. The combination of a food hall and small business incubator, Smallman Gallery consists of two bars, four restaurant concepts and 200 seats.
23. 24th Street & Smallman Street. In 2008, a parking garage with street level retail space was added to the Cork Factory Lofts mixed-use redevelopment site.
24. Originally built in 1865 for the Phoenix Brewing Company, the Otto Milk Company used this building as a processing and storage factory. In recent years, it has been redeveloped into a $14.7 million, 58 unit market-rate condominium complex with assistance $390,000 Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) loan funds.
26. The Heinz History Center occupies a warehouse originally built for the Chautauqua Lake Ice Company in 1898.
27. Homewood Suites by Hilton was built as an infill hotel development in 2015.
28. This seven-story, windowless building was completed in 1930 for the New Federal Cold Storage Company. In recent decades, the Robert Wholey & Company operated its wholesale division out of the building. New York-based JMC Holdings recently purchased the 336,000-square-foot building for mixed-use redevelopment.
31. The 297-unit Cork Factory Lofts occupies buildings constructed for the Armstrong Cork Company in 1901. At its height in 1930, the cork factory employed 1,300 workers.
32. The Armstrong Cork Company closed this factory in 1974. In 1996, the property was acquired in a bankruptcy court sale and eventually designated as a historic landmark in 2004. In 2005, the former factory was redeveloped into the Cork Factory Lofts
Article by Ennis Davis, AICP. Davis is a certified senior planner and graduate of Florida A&M University. He is the author of the award winning books “Reclaiming Jacksonville,” “Cohen Brothers: The Big Store” and “Images of Modern America: Jacksonville.” Davis has served with various organizations committed to improving urban communities, including the American Planning Association and the Florida Trust for Historic Preservation. A 2013 Next City Vanguard, Davis is the co-founder of Metro Jacksonville.com and ModernCities.com — two websites dedicated to promoting fiscally sustainable communities — and Transform Jax, a tactical urbanist group. Contact Ennis at firstname.lastname@example.org