What the East Side Development is Doing for Shadyside and East Liberty

Shadyside is like a toaster. Warm coffee shops and tanning salons crisping the mid to upper class white folk to a toasty darker peach. East Liberty is like heavy makeup in the rain. Where a neat and clean business area once sat, various influences rained down on its storefronts and apartment complexes to become fabulous streaks of the black culture, stores with names like Hip Hop City and Thangs n’ Bangs.

The two neighborhoods are bumped right up against eachother, but the bus way / train tracks made for few bridges to and from each neighborhood and they developed on their own. Never really mixing. Posh decorative pillows on one side and an afghan with holes on the other.

But now, somewhat unnaturally, there has become a middle ground: East Side. Now, there is no such thing as East Side, really, at least not as a neighborhood. There’s South Side. That’s a neighborhood. North Side, yep a neighborhood. Oakland, Mount Washington, Bloomfield. All neighborhoods. But East Side is merely a strip mall thrown into the middle of the city. Suburban sprawl stuffed back into the urban jungle. It’s basically a grocery store, a Walgreens, a liquor store and a book store. Oh, and of course a Starbucks. It’s all chain stores and parking lots. I should hate it, as the big businesses come in and help to squash the last place that mom and pop could hope to survive, in the gritty streets of ghetto and the boutiques of the bourgeois.

But I don’t. Really. At all.

Because what I’ve seen there is so interesting. East Side baristas serving coffee to CMU professors. Shadyside hipsters ringing up the ghetto fabulous. Mr. Black and Mrs. White standing in the same lines, buying the same products, holding the same doors open for eachother. It’s a successful merging of both sides of the tracks and I can’t wait to see if it continues to develop that way.

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