Protecting and Preserving Our Two Neighborhoods

On July 29, 2018, residents and supporters of Panther Hollow and The Run held a protest rally at the monument site in Panther Hollow, and then proceeded to walk to The Run. The purpose of the protest was to send an unequivocal signal to city, university, and foundation leaders that this proposed roadway, from the old Almono site in Hazelwood (now called Hazelwood Green) to Oakland, is neither wanted nor needed by our two communities. Speeches were given in Panther Hollow and The Run. The following is one of those speeches.

July 29, 2018

By Carlino Giampolo
Panther Hollow

I would like to thank the residents of Panther Hollow and The Run, as well as all of our supporters, for being here today for this historic gathering. We unite as one to urge city administrators, foundation leaders, and university leaders to end the plan to build a roadway through our two neighborhoods.

Panther Hollow, one of the first Italian neighborhoods in the city of Pittsburgh, is a cultural treasure. This historic neighborhood should be protected and preserved, not threatened with an ill-conceived roadway. The Italian history of Panther Hollow is the quintessential story of the immigration experience in America that dates back to the 1880s when immigrants, mainly from the two towns of Gamberale and Pizzoferrato in the region of Abruzzi, settled here.

That first generation of humble, honest, hard-working immigrants came in search of a new life and brought with them their Italian traditions. In 1900, over 200 Italians lived on this street, and by 1920, that number grew to 470. Many of the early immigrants built their own homes and created a self-contained community with six stores, two banks, a travel company, cows and a milk company, vegetable gardens, and wine vineyards. Families looked out for one another and it was a place where everybody knew each other’s name. A detailed history of our neighborhood is on the website: www.PantherHollow.us

This is not the first time that Panther Hollow has been threatened with an ill-conceived development plan. In 1963, University of Pittsburgh Chancellor Edward Litchfield proposed a 21stCentury Research Park that would have begun at 5thAvenue and Neville Street, and continue through Panther Hollow and The Run until it reached the banks of the Monongahela River. In Panther Hollow, 60 homes would have been destroyed and over 250 Italians displaced. In addition, Central Catholic High School would have been destroyed, depriving any future students of graduating from there. The second generation of Italians, that of my parents, prevailed and Litchfield was defeated.

It is now up to us, the succeeding generations of our ancestors, whether you live here or not, to protect and preserve our historic neighborhood.

To those who propose this roadway, I have already provided numerous solutions that would not impact our two neighborhoods. Four roadways already in existence can be used instead: Second Avenue to Brady Street, Second Avenue to Bates Street, Greenfield Avenue to the Greenfield Bridge onto the Boulevard of the Allies, and Greenfield Avenue to Swinburne Street. In each of those alternatives, the travel time from Saline Street and Greenfield Avenue until you are in Oakland is, well, less than 10 minutes. This destructive roadway plan, which would save only a few minutes in drive time, is convenient for the universities and foundations, but devastating for our two historic communities. I have also suggested simply to employ express buses from the old Almono site to Oakland. These are just two of 12 suggestions that are on the website www.SavePantherHollow.com.

I had also asked 10 of the top city, university, and foundation leaders who support the roadway, to please provide to us in detail all of the benefits to the Panther Hollow community, especially to the elderly residents who have lived here their entire lives, and who wish to live the remainder of their lives here in dignity and peace.Those leaders failed to provide any benefits. They all chose silence.

We all know who benefits the most:

They are the University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University. These are institutions of higher education. Should they not also have leaders of higher intelligence who can creatively figure out how to help the Hazelwood community without destroying Panther Hollow and The Run?

The roadway also benefits the foundations who own the old Almono site in Hazelwood. These foundations spent nearly $10 million dollars on the purchase of that property as well as for studies to support the proposed roadway. Would that money not have been better used to help the disenfranchised in our city?

The roadway also benefits our Italian mayor’s political ambitions. Should he not be using his energies to protect and preserve our historic Italian neighborhood, and to support efforts to enhance the neighborhood by building an Italian Cultural Center here? Should Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald, whose mother-in-law was born and raised here, not do the same?

This neighborhood is sacred to us. We deeply honor and highly respect the legacy of our ancestors who came before us and sacrificed to make Panther Hollow a special place. They may very well be looking down on us, saying: keep on, keeping on, for your cause is just.

We will. We will stand tall, stand proud, stand out. We will triumph. There will be no roadway through Panther Hollow and The Run.