Selling Brookline

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Brookline today is a pleasant city neighborhood whose central avenue, Brookline Boulevard, is the broadest commercial street in Pittsburgh–a fact that will greatly surprise visitors from other cities, where residential streets may well be broader than Brookline Boulevard. In 1905, it was mostly vacant lots, but this advertisement promises a glowing future that–for the most part–actually came to pass. The neighborhood will enjoy even greater advantages when it is taken into the city of Pittsburgh: “the vote has been taken, the matter is officially settled.” The acrimonious annexation of Allegheny was still very much up in the air at that point, and the public would need assurance that Brookline would not present similar difficulties.

Belgian Block in Brookline


Pittsburghers call it “cobblestone,” although real cobblestones are irregular roundish rocks, much harder to drive on than Belgian block. As a pavement, Belgian block is just about ideal for neighborhood streets. It lasts almost forever, it’s attractive, and it slows traffic to a safe pace on a residential street. Since most people think the object of driving is to go as fast as possible, most people hate Belgian block, and more and more Belgian-block pavements are disappearing under smooth asphalt. But there are still hundreds of Belgian-block streets in Pittsburgh and the inner suburbs.

In neighborhoods like Brookline, cheaper brick pavements were used on flat stretches of street. The more expensive Belgian block was reserved for hills, where it gives far better traction in wet weather than brick does.