Here are two pictures especially for trolley geeks. These 4200-series Siemens cars (this one is number 4232) were bought in the 1980s and completely rebuilt in the 2000s. They make up about two-thirds of the fleet. They are very similar to the later CAF cars, but easily distinguished by the two headlights in the center (rather than at the sides) and the “cyclops eye” high beam mounted on the roof. Of course, they are also easily distinguished by being numbered in the 4200 series; the CAF cars make up the 4300 series. This car is southbound on the Red Line, heading for central Beechview.
The picture above gives us a good look at what old Pa Pitt calls the “Pittsburgh door,” the extra street-level doors that have to be added to all Pittsburgh trolleys to deal with our odd combination of platform-level stations and street-level stops.
Another moving still picture, this one of sunset light on steam rising from a chimney in Beechview.
Little glimpses of the downtown skyline pop up unexpectedly in hilltop neighborhoods. Here, from a back street in Beechview, we see Mount Washington, with the U. S. Steel Tower and the BNY Mellon Center poking their heads up behind the hill.
It’s a magnificent early spring, and the magnolias are already in bloom. This tree was in full flower beside Fallowfield Avenue in Beechview.
Suburban riders on the Red Line, if they have ever lifted their eyes from their iPhones for a moment, must have noticed the peculiar anomaly of Beechview: a tidy and pleasant residential neighborhood with an almost abandoned business district. A good part of the abandonment was the result of a scandal-ridden failed urban-renewal project, in which the city gave millions to a private developer who vanished with most of the money.
But now the mess is nearly sorted out, and storefronts in Beechview are filling up with interesting and useful businesses.
The big accomplishment was finding someone to open a new supermarket, which will anchor the whole business district. The owner of the new Market on Broadway already has some experience operating a successful urban market in Oakland, the Market on Forbes.
A new neighborhood coffeehouse gives the locals a place to gather and gossip.
This 1920s-vintage storefront has been beautifully restored for the new Crested Duck Charcuterie, which will be an interesting addition to a neighborhood more accustomed to spaghetti and meatballs in a church basement.
A neighborhood artist has taken over this little building that was abandoned when the ESB Bank moved to larger quarters across the street.
Eventually, this clothing store will have a name other than “Grand Opening.”
All these new businesses face an uphill struggle; most new businesses fail, and Beechview residents themselves, who learned to go elsewhere for shopping, will have to be lured back to their own business district. But Beechview, aside from a strong sense of community, has one great strength most other neighborhoods lack: the Red Line, which brings rail transit right to the center of the business district. Perhaps some of those suburban riders will glance up from their iPhones, see the new Beechview, and start to think of it as a place for dining and shopping.We’ll see.