Main Street, Lawrenceville, in 2001

Main Street, Lawrenceville

No neighborhood has changed more than Lawrenceville in the past two decades—but only demographically. In 2001, Lawrenceville was a cheap working-class neighborhood whose long business district was full of abandoned storefronts, except at the still-thriving core around the intersection of Butler and Main Streets. (Butler, of course, is the main street; the Pittsburgh area is full of Main Streets that aren’t the main street of anything.) Then the artsy types discovered it and briefly made it into the artists’ colony of Pittsburgh; then their rediscovery of the neighborhood caused rents and real-estate values to rocket upward, sending the artists scurrying to Garfield and other cheaper places while people with money moved in.

But through those rapid changes, the back streets of Lawrenceville have hardly changed at all. The artists and their moneyed successors moved in because they liked the neighborhood the way it was, and they have been careful to maintain it that way. The houses are better kept on average now, but they were never badly kept, as we can see in this picture from about 2001. Except for some more fashionable polychrome paint schemes on a few of the houses, this view is almost exactly the same today.

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