At the end of the 2010 East Liberty Community Plan planning process, participants were asked to imagine what people might write in 2020 about the changes that had taken place in East Liberty over the past two decades.
Today, 12 years later, much of what they said turned out to be prophetically accurate. As we prepare to launch an updated East Liberty impact report (stay tuned!), we are introducing a new series called “Revisiting the Vision.” In it, we will take a look at some of the points from East Liberty’s community plans and see what has been achieved as well as the work that still needs to be done.
Point One: Eliminating Blight and Vacancy
In the 2010 East Liberty Community Plan, stakeholders wrote:
“In the 1990s, our neighborhood was synonymous with blight and vacancy. Today, as a major destination for Pittsburghers and tourists alike, East Liberty is enjoying a neighborhood vibrancy that has been dormant for over two generations.”
It was also noted in the plan that:
“A negative perception continues to plague the commercial core due to unclear plans for vacant spaces, less than vibrant night life, poor maintenance, a perception of crime, loitering, unattractive sidewalks with no place to sit, unhealthy street trees, and poor lighting.”
Take a walk down Penn Avenue in 2022, and you’ll find a mix of new stores, bars, and restaurants—from Brew Dog to Bonobos—alongside old favorites like Jamil’s Global Village and Holland’s Specialty Shop.
Next to this influx of new business activity, crime has plummeted.
As detailed in East Liberty’s crime studies, between 2008 and 2012, crime in East Liberty’s residential neighborhood fell by 49% and residential housing values rose by 120%.
This crime reduction is significantly greater than what occurred, on average, in the City of Pittsburgh during that period, and is also noticeably greater than that observed for comparable neighborhoods in close proximity to East Liberty.
The benefits of this strategy are still being reaped today as crime continues to decline in East Liberty. From 2011 to 2021 alone, offenses decreased by a staggering 44%.
East Liberty in 2022 is once again a neighborhood of choice that attracts a diverse mix of people from around Pittsburgh to live, work, and play.