Economic Development Musings

The Mayor’s “Propel Pittsburgh Commission” had our second meeting this week, this time smack in the middle of Lawrenceville’s Design Zone. Most of the meeting time was taken up with election of officers (not including your humble correspondent, I’m sorry to report, but we did get a good slate of people). The memorable thing, though, was when some representatives from the Lawrenceville Corporation took us on a brief tour of some of the Design Zone businesses. We saw three boutiques that have opened next to each other: one sells expensive clothes, one sells shoes to go with those clothes, and one sells furniture to sit on while wearing your expensive shoes and clothes. As we heard about these boutiques and the LC’s role in helping them, a young punk-looking person bicycled by and shouted at us to “Stop the gentrification of Lawrenceville!” (with a smattering of applause from a few other youths gathered nearby).

Whoever our bicyclist was, he had a point. The clientele of these shops, according to our tour guide, comes primarily from Sewickley and Fox Chapel, with the runner-up being the East End. Those are NOT people who are going to up and decide to buy a house in Lawrenceville. In the meantime, the folks who *do* live in Lawrenceville, both young and old, get to see neighborhood businesses fancy shops selling merchandise they have little use for and can’t afford. It’s not the bland sprawl of strip malls and Wal-Marts, but it’s still a process that has the potential to harm a neighborhood. Just as importantly, from the perspective of what the Mayor’s Commission is supposed to do, this kind of upscale business development may not help keep young people in Pittsburgh. First off, young people are usually not wealthy — it doesn’t help to create services that we can’t afford. Second, the prime issue (both per informal conversations with friends and the city’s own data) is jobs. High-end boutiques and artist lofts don’t create substantial numbers of jobs, and the jobs they *do* create are low-paying retail with minimal opportunities for career advancement.

Pittsburgh needs to grow our economy to survive. Maybe there’s more to this development that was shown in our brief visit, but the businesses we saw on that tour are unlikely to give us the kind of growth we need.

26 Comments so far

  1. Bram R (unregistered) on October 26th, 2007 @ 3:32 pm

    Alik, you are well and fully redeemed.


  2. Kelly Hoffman (unregistered) on October 26th, 2007 @ 5:00 pm

    Thank you for giving us the opportunity to show off Lawrenceville. As we noted, Lawrenceville is a very diverse community and the high end boutiques in the sixth ward are just a few of the hundreds of businesses in Lawrenceville. We also have many affordable, neighborhood serving businesses such as gift shops, barber shops, banks, restaurants and more. The shoppers coming in from the areas you list are supporting our local economy and independent business owners, some of whom live in Larwenceville. What attracts people to buy a house in a neighborhood includes vibrant, clean and safe business and residential districts, affordable housing,and other amenities (e.g., location, proximity to work, etc.)An increasing number of young people are moving to Lawrenceville for those exact reasons. The term “gentrification” means there is no room a certain class of people – that people are priced out of the neighborhood. Lawrenceville is nowhere near that threshold-there is a large variety of housing types and a wide range of prices. There is not a one-size-fits-all strategy for neighborhood revitalization and unfortuntely we didn’t have time to talk to you about all of our other programs and the other sections of Lawrenceville. The purpose of our tour was to show you the successes that Lawrenceville has had with creating a vibrant business district. As we noted, there are still a lot of challenges that Lawrenceville is facing and the community is working on addressing them. Finally, the “young punk looking kid” on the bike was actually an older man and you might be referring to the young punk looking kids in front of Inka Dinka Doo, a great tattoo shop we work closely with and we are proud to have in Lawrenceville.


  3. Kelly Hoffman (unregistered) on October 26th, 2007 @ 5:00 pm

    Thank you for giving us the opportunity to show off Lawrenceville. As we noted, Lawrenceville is a very diverse community and the high end boutiques in the sixth ward are just a few of the hundreds of businesses in Lawrenceville. We also have many affordable, neighborhood serving businesses such as gift shops, barber shops, banks, restaurants and more. The shoppers coming in from the areas you list are supporting our local economy and independent business owners, some of whom live in Larwenceville. What attracts people to buy a house in a neighborhood includes vibrant, clean and safe business and residential districts, affordable housing,and other amenities (e.g., location, proximity to work, etc.)An increasing number of young people are moving to Lawrenceville for those exact reasons. The term “gentrification” means there is no room a certain class of people – that people are priced out of the neighborhood. Lawrenceville is nowhere near that threshold-there is a large variety of housing types and a wide range of prices. There is not a one-size-fits-all strategy for neighborhood revitalization and unfortuntely we didn’t have time to talk to you about all of our other programs and the other sections of Lawrenceville. The purpose of our tour was to show you the successes that Lawrenceville has had with creating a vibrant business district. As we noted, there are still a lot of challenges that Lawrenceville is facing and the community is working on addressing them. Finally, the “young punk looking kid” on the bike was actually an older man and you might be referring to the young punk looking kids in front of Inka Dinka Doo, a great tattoo shop we work closely with and we are proud to have in Lawrenceville.


  4. Kelly Hoffman (unregistered) on October 26th, 2007 @ 5:01 pm

    Thank you for giving us the opportunity to show off Lawrenceville. As we noted, Lawrenceville is a very diverse community and the high end boutiques in the sixth ward are just a few of the hundreds of businesses in Lawrenceville. We also have many affordable, neighborhood serving businesses such as gift shops, barber shops, banks, restaurants and more. The shoppers coming in from the areas you list are supporting our local economy and independent business owners, some of whom live in Larwenceville. What attracts people to buy a house in a neighborhood includes vibrant, clean and safe business and residential districts, affordable housing,and other amenities (e.g., location, proximity to work, etc.)An increasing number of young people are moving to Lawrenceville for those exact reasons. The term “gentrification” means there is no room a certain class of people – that people are priced out of the neighborhood. Lawrenceville is nowhere near that threshold-there is a large variety of housing types and a wide range of prices. There is not a one-size-fits-all strategy for neighborhood revitalization and unfortuntely we didn’t have time to talk to you about all of our other programs and the other sections of Lawrenceville. The purpose of our tour was to show you the successes that Lawrenceville has had with creating a vibrant business district. As we noted, there are still a lot of challenges that Lawrenceville is facing and the community is working on addressing them. Finally, the “young punk looking kid” on the bike was actually an older man and you might be referring to the young punk looking kids in front of Inka Dinka Doo, a great tattoo shop we work closely with and we are proud to have in Lawrenceville.


  5. kelly (unregistered) on October 26th, 2007 @ 5:09 pm

    One more thing: while the “high end lofts” might not create jobs they do generate much needed tax revenue for the City of Pittsburgh…one more facet of economic development.


  6. nadia (unregistered) on October 26th, 2007 @ 5:21 pm

    I live in Lawrenceville and I love the boutiques – I might not be able to afford some of the stuff, but not everything is super expensive. Also, these boutiques come together and organize events – like Final Fridays (tonight) which celebrates Lawrenceville culture and recruits younger people to the neighborhood. The boutiques serve more roles in community development than one might think.


  7. Alik Widge (unregistered) on October 26th, 2007 @ 5:54 pm

    Kelly: Thanks for adding your thoughts to this discussion. I’m still finding this somewhat confusing, though. How does it help the neighborhood grow if someone from Sewickley comes in, spends $500 on clothes in one or two shops, then hops back in the car and leaves? The tax revenue argument is valid on a city-wide basis, but how does it help Lawrenceville? How does that money get to the neighborhood-supporting businesses that we’re talking about? It’s a more sustainable solution than, say, a Waterfront/SouthSideWorks model, but what’s the part of the picture I’m not seeing here?

    Obviously, Lawrenceville is far from gentrified in the technical sense of that word, as you mentioned during your presentation. But what’s going to happen to keep it from going in that direction? It sounds like you folks at LC have thought about this — what’s the plan? Or, put another way, if that guy on the bike were reading this, what would you tell him?

    Nadia: The role of shops like this in supporting community events is important, and is something I hadn’t considered. Thank you.


  8. Matt H (unregistered) on October 26th, 2007 @ 8:38 pm

    Good discussion.


  9. Ed Heath (unregistered) on October 27th, 2007 @ 8:33 am

    You would prefer dollar shops, gold and jewelry shops, nail places and CD/DVD outlets? Actually, I believe Lawrenceville has some of these, as well as some small used car places, some restaurants and three or so slightly seedy grocery stores. And a technology-type area and some oil distribution kind of facilities. Lawrenceville, in fact, has a pretty decent mix of industry and retail, but not every boutique store front can be a bio-tech start up.
    I’ve heard this argument before, that the high end stores along Butler are hostile to the neighborhood, employ few people and only attract shoppers from out of the area. But they do attract shoppers in, adding Lawrenceville to East Liberty as a new shopping *destination*, and helping it compete with Squirrel Hill, Shadyside and Oakmont in the East End specialty boutique arms race. If your standard is that every business needs to appeal to young people potential home buyers, every store needs to be Ikea, Home Depot or Baby USA. And that’s certainly not sustainable. Plus, once your home buyers move in, they may decide to move on a few years, as their cheap starter house has worn thin, and all the businesses in the area cater to a younger, cheaper crowd. And, yeah it’s nice to be able to walk to work, but who wants to work in Home Depot all their lives.


  10. Alik Widge (unregistered) on October 27th, 2007 @ 11:09 am

    Ed: Obviously, not so much what *I* would prefer, as what the people who live there would prefer. (Although when I do go to Lawrenceville, it’s to drink beer at the Moose, bowl at Arsenal, and once in a while to eat at Thunderbird, all of which are more on the “undesign” side of Butler.)

    The bigger issue is what you just raised: the “specialty boutique arms race”. It is not possible for every single neighborhood to be a shopping destination for the whole city, nor is it desirable. As we learned from War Games, the only way to win that game is not to play.

    And there are a lot more businesses that attract a young homeowner (speaking from personal experience) than Ikea and Home Depot. Less-than-seedy grocery stores. Restaurants. Coffee shops. Maybe a bookstore. A bit of park for kids and dogs. This is why I settled in the East End — all of those things are in two to four blocks’ walk from me.


  11. elmo topp (unregistered) on October 27th, 2007 @ 2:30 pm

    When the coming economic depression arrives these boutiques will be the first to close. How many starter shops have already opened and closed on Butler Street? The place is haunted and will never be what you folks dream it will be. I think its funny when a loft owner goes out on his or her balcony in the morning with their latte and breathes in diesel fumes coming off the trailer trucks on a heavily used state route called Butler Street. I have yet to see groups of swells beating it on foot past the massive Arsenal School up a long block past the indigenous people waiting for the bus or heading to Wendys. Forget it, that gentrified Lawrencville is a dream cooked up by real estate agents and get rich quick house flippers. It might become a bedroom community for hospital workers in need of a place nearby to sleep between shifts. No one will shop in Lawrenceville for trinkets. Its a bad experience forpeople who buy that stuff. In the meantime junk houses are selling for 100 grand on 45th street. I just have to laugh. The regular folks who live on the not so desirable streets and in the alleys will out live the art galleries and then we can all finally go back to normal.


  12. Nadia (unregistered) on October 29th, 2007 @ 12:22 pm

    Seriously Elmo – what is your vision for Lawrenceville? You must have some enlightened point of view that you are willing to share with us…and what does it mean to go back to normal?


  13. Elmo Topp (unregistered) on October 30th, 2007 @ 10:53 am

    Normal is people, average people WORKING and living IN their neighborhood. I invite you to tour the area down by the river. Start at the Ice House at the bottom of 43rd street. A large building that sits nearly empty that used URA money to support an arts community. The old Heppinstahl factory recently torn down, now a two blocks long empty field. The new warehouses below Butler Street in the 10th ward also nearly empty. All this space that should be filled with light manufacturing jobs.Instead you have community organizations trying to attract tiny specialty shops and art galleries to a neighborhood thats difficult to walk.Nearly the whole south side of Butler street in the 9th ward is taken up with massive buildings like the old boys club,arsenal school,Leslie Park.That limits walking from shop to shop down by half.People are fatigued by the end of the cookie tour or house tour. Butler Street will never be the kind of shopping street that Walnut or East Carson is. So I say leave it alone.Don’t fall for the vision of Lawrenceville organizations. Come here and tour it for yourself.
    Come here at night when its as scary as Camden New Jersey. Drive through the 10th ward at 11pm, see the vision.Getting back to that question, the URA had special funding to redo store fronts but nothing to attract the kinds of jobs regular working people can do. So here is my vision: A Butler street filled with stores that meet the everyday needs of people living in the neighborhood. Stores that provide the goods and services people travel to Walmart for. All these new shops, owned and operated by people who live IN Lawrenceville. A business district patrolled by police who LIVE in Lawrenceville,the stores patronized by neighborhood people because it keeps the money thats turned in the neighborhood right here. The most popular shop on Butler Street right now is Starrs. They sell milk bread pop and lottery tickets. The back of the building collapsed so they had to close for awhile. Starrs serves the majority of Lawrenceville residents who aren’t into trolling the swell shops and galleries.The boutique,coffee house and gallery owners are suffering here. There aren’t enough customers for what they are selling. Ride past these shops, look in the windows, no one there except some evenings. Many of them are only able to stay open because their partners work an outside job and keeps the place propped up with that outside income. This is not the time or the place for these kinds of businesses. The only reason they are here is because they were tricked by community groups and real estate agents,tricked into thinking that this was a ground floor oppertunity. It won’t ever be what they promised when they sold the houses and storefronts and lofts for more than they were worth. It was a scam vision that these people were sold. its not real and won’t be real in our lifetime. Its time to get real, lead normal lives Don’t put up facades for people to act out their dreams of being great artists or writers in be real go to New York. Our neighborhood is becoming a stage set. Don’t walk down Butler street, walk the length of Eden way down behind it.You’ll see that
    the backs of the fixed up buildings with beautiful fronts have terrible backs, in bad condition, and most of the fixed up buildings are when viewed from the back, empty. Next ask the people how thick the layer of soot gets as it covers everything in their homes from the trucks on Butler Street. And if you live here or are just visiting, you are breathing it in. Imagine sitting outside on Butler street in front of a cafe and eating this soot along with your food.
    Lets not pretend that its not true. Leave Lawrenceville to the ironweeds that grew up there or who can’t afford to move anywhere else. Don’t rub the trinkets coveted by the more affluent or the art better appreciated by the educated in their faces.
    Let us go back to normal while you enjoy all that Shadyside, South Side,Squirrel Hill and the White Island in East Liberty have to offer. Lawrenceville doesn’t need a vision, the majority of her residents can’t afford one and that ok by us .


  14. PRO LV (unregistered) on October 30th, 2007 @ 1:37 pm

    WOW. I don’t even know what to say. If Starrs was the most popular shop, why didn’t the New York Times include them in their piece about Lawrenceville being a go-to destination? It’s not a stage. Do your research. Your thoughts are formed by bitter beliefs and jaded perceptions, and Lawrenceville will move on without you.


  15. Elmo Topp (unregistered) on October 30th, 2007 @ 3:41 pm

    You forgot to mention that Pittsburgh is the most livable city. I’m not bitter. I feel bad that people with vision come here and are lied to and that some of them, kind gentle people who only want to create something nice loose their hard earned money and are in the end forced to close up shop and leave. Check out the list of shops that were here just three years ago and see how many still exist. Stop pretending. We’ll all do better if you face the truth. Don’t be deluded into thinking that the New York Times knows better than you or I do when it comes to Lawrenceville.Maybe you feel secure in your ability to hide from the meaness of these streets. I can only go by what I see and hear every day while they get to talk to to the cheer leaders, the real estate flippers, the community organization people paid to promote this place. After an hour or two with them and the quick tour of the shops they collect their fee, fly off and start typing. Yes Lawrenceville will move on, but not in our lifetime.It doesn’t change until it changes for everyone here not just the few people who read the Times. Next time I write I’ll give you the names of real people who have been victimized by all of this PR and the names of your neighbors who were killed or robbed in the streets all around here. Perhaps you will be shocked into the reality of life in these three wards. Maybe others will think and ask questions before they rush to invest here. Lets start with the sadness of the memorial flowers at the corner of 44th and Butler street that we pass by each day. Does the Times know why they are there?


  16. Kelly (unregistered) on October 31st, 2007 @ 4:35 pm

    I just need to point out that 3 of the 4 full time employees of the Lawrenceville Corp live in Lawrenceville so we are the “normal” people that live here. I personally live in the 10th Ward and I have been to Camden and I can tell you that they are not the same.


  17. elmo topp (unregistered) on November 2nd, 2007 @ 7:25 pm

    I never said anything about “normal people” I spoke of a normal situation, normal conditions, a normal everyday life. When you arrived in Lawrenceville to take your job with the Lawrenceville Corporation I’ll bet you decided to rent. You didn’t buy a house in the 10th ward did you? No you didn’t, nor would you. You won’t be here in two years. You don’t like all the prostitution and drugs in YOUR neighborhood but you never speak about it. You wouldn’t dream of warning a potential business owner of these problems right? You tell them how great it is but you see, thats not ethical, its not being honest.
    I’ll bet you get worried when you have to go from the car to the house when you get home after dark and that you would never walk Butler Street in the 10th ward after 9pm.


  18. Ken (unregistered) on November 4th, 2007 @ 1:19 pm

    Wow, i just read this discussion, and I have to say….Elmo, i think you need to be tickled.

    It’s sad to think that some residents here feel this way, but it is definatly understandable, i know how it must seem to you, and how you might feel alienated. Reality is, it is the nature of change, we all feel it sometimes.

    But alow me to tell you what I think, whether you agree, identify with, or just plain old throw it out the window is no concern to me.

    My fiancee, I and, her three kids all share a house here in L-vill.

    I bought this house 4 years ago in October. We love it, we love everything about it. I started renovating it from day one, and i still have a long way to go, but i have shaped it up quite nicly i believe, we all have our own spaces.

    We are artists, we have a world wide website showcasing some of our work called blubrix.com, and are members of the design zone.

    This house gives us the space to live, work, and play in that we needed. I use the attic for my space to paint, and Christina has an office of her own to do her graphic arts on computers. I also have a dayjob, I work in a corporate office of a furniture company in crafton. As much as I hate the idea of working for “the man” i know what i have to do for sustainability.

    The kids love it here because we have a small back yard for them to play in, and arsenal park is just accross the street. Two of the children go to Woolslayer School, and the other to Rogers, and are all three are honor students.

    We can’t always give them everything they want, but we strive to give them everything they need. I dont see how someone can make the argument that a sustainable middle class stature is something we shouldnt strive for.

    We love being able to either walk or drive though Allegheny Cemetary, especially in the fall when the leafs change color.

    We love the affordability of housing, not just in this neighborhood but in this city.

    I love that I can sit on my sofa in my livingroom, see the new childrens hospital out of the front window, and see the PPG building downtown out the back window with just a turn of the head.

    I love being in the middle of things, being so close to downtown, so close to the new hospital, and being in the middle of a neighborhood that has a bright future.

    I like being able to take the kids trick or treating on Halloween, each and every year so far we walk over to Butler and Fisk, walk up Fisk untill we get to Penn, then walk over to Main street, walk down it, all the while talking to all the young and older people who have bought in to this beautiful area, before we go home and the kids can dive into the bounty of candy they picked up and will last them untill next Halloween

    I love being able to walk to a bar for a pint of beer, we can sit down on a stool next to anyone and talk about anything.

    We can walk to fast food, fine food, convienence stores, or high end boutiques and art galleries. I might not always purchase the things that they have, but at least I have the option.

    I have lived in a few other neighborhoods in this city, i considered a bunch of factors before i settled on this, but after coming here several times to take photographs of the area, i fell in love with it.

    I dont know if there was a single thing that drew me here, i believe it was all of it combined that made it an easy decision.

    The past, the present, the future, the intrigue of the people, the opportunity, the architecture, affordibility, the great green spaces, proximity to the river, bridges, walking-biking trails, etc etc.

    I think it is for these reasons that other people will settle in Lawrenceville. It is going to take a good mix of all kids of people, all sizes shapes and income levels.

    This neighborhood is the biggest, and there is room for everyone. We can not give up, we need to keep believing and keep the dreams alive.
    Keep pushing forward, and striving for better.

    These days America is built on great advertising campaigns, the better the slogan the better, or easier you can be fooled into buying something you dont need or will never use.

    I have always been a believer that honesty is a better way to advertise, and I dont beileve in a lot of the B.S. out there, but what I do believe in is this city, this neighborhood is a very good thing on a very promising path.

    There are going to be some failures, some buisnesses will open and close, some will last a lifetime. It’s the vision and opportunity that allows people to open these buisnesses, and sometimes they are short lived for a variety of reasons…..i mean could you imagine a telegram office on 40th and butler instead of Wendys?

    I believe it is great here, i believe it is only getting better, and it is definatly a product i will continue to endorse.

    (I do also appologise for all of my bad spelling and puctuation, I have never very good at that.)

    thanks,
    ken


  19. elmo topp (unregistered) on November 5th, 2007 @ 12:55 am

    I am certainly glad that you are here in Lawrenceville and that you enjoy living here.
    I hope you will re-read my posts in the comments.
    The problems here aren’t caused by the people who are moving here to live and work. The problem is that community organizations, real estate people, and other people who are trying to profit off the spin paint a rosy picture and hide the truth about the neighborhood from their clients. I noticed in your comment that you did’nt mention any of the problems the community faces on a daily basis.I realize that its possible to isolate oneself and hang out at the house, but most of your neighbors need to walk down Butler street to do their shopping. they aren’t as mobile as maybe you are. They step around the used condoms and needles that litter the sidewalks for blocks. What saddens me is that you don’t acknowledge any of these problems in your comment, like the murder of a young man at 44th and Butler street. Maybe you don’t know about that. His friends leave flowers at the corner because they miss him, or the murder of a young innocent girl near 52nd street and Butler. Maybe you don’t let these things phase you. Maybe you don’t even know or acknowledge that things like that can happen here,but they do. Sure you’re busy doing your art, raising your kids, and you don’t think much about it.The quality of life isn’t all that good for many of the people you are living with here in the neighborhood. Eventually their lives and their condition will effect you.I know that doesn’t seem possible right now but the time will come, and then what will you think? Will you wish you had become a bit more involved in the community, that you did things to help improve it for everyone and not just for yourself? You might say that you never realized how bad it was in Lawrenceville. But it is bad for many people.I believe that its wrong to attract people to a community without giving them all the facts. I also think that its not right to isolate yourself from the problems of your community. People with empathy and compassion will understand what I’m saying. You might be one of those folks who believe its “everyman for himself” If the economy is any indication you would be far better off to abandon that philosophy. But if thats the case and you could care less then I feel sorry for your wife and kids.In a community filled with so many people with so few opportunities, with so few successes,you would think, you would hope that those more fortunate would care enough to make sure their neighbors weren’t left behind. Tell me, why do you see Lawrenceville, your newhome as “a product i will continue to endorse”. You describe your new found community as a PRODUCT? Is that all it is?. I talk about the community in terms of its people. I don’t think anyone with the means to buy in should be tricked or lied to. Every new shop is someone’s dream, not just for financial success. Shopkeeping is much more than that. Its serving the customer, sharing products you think people will enjoy. People don’t open little shops to earn fantastic livings, they enjoy people. There are other reasons. Its wrong to crush their hopes and dreams and thats what happens here in Lawrenceville to many shopkeepers. Why talk them into a situation here that just doesn’t work for most who have tried it. I hope you continue to enjoy being here but if suddenly you decide for some reason or another to leave, well, I understand. Thats the American way these days isn’t it. By the way your comment about the spelling was very hurtful. Would you be proud to tell your children how you made a fool out of someone who couldn’t spell or punctuate or… just happened to be typing very fast on a malfunctioning keyboard.

    You wrote “(I do also appologise for all of my bad spelling and puctuation, I have never very good at that.)
    That sentence was the only one in your comments that contained mis-spellings. Thats ok. I wish I had some of your brains, and that you had some of my heart
    Best of luck, your neighbor,Elmo Topp.


  20. Ken (unregistered) on November 5th, 2007 @ 8:37 am

    Elmo,

    I dont disagree with some of your comments, i agree with some very much.

    first as of the spelling and punctuation thing, i never have been very good at it, and would admit to anyone that i am too lazy to use a spell check.
    I dont even have a drivers license, never really learned to drive, yet we do own a car. I am not ashamed of that either, i just dont feel it needed that i drive.

    Murder, litter, and prostitution happens everywhere, not just Lawrenceville, and not just Pittsburgh.

    It’s sad to admit that, but we are in reality, and this is definatly not suburbia, and hope it never is suburbia like. This is a city neighborhood, and will have city neighborhood problems.

    I participate in the community when applicable, and I can also be seen walking though out the streets with garbage bags picking up litter……especially that of Scott Electric, an electric product and supply company with a huge warehouse accross the street from me.

    Scott electric does have alot of average joes working there, making average income, but one thing they are really good at, is contributing to the garbage on the streets.

    I invite you to any any point of any day come overe here to 39th, and look at the piles of garbage that have blown over here, and S.E. does nothing about to help clean up.

    I also endure their lound banging and clanging all night long from the midnight shift, but you know what…i accepted that when i bought the house and i continue to chalk it up as city living.

    I agree with you, that if the real estate people and going to try and sell this community to people, and even if they are just trying to make some quick commision, that they do show all of the neighborhood….but another sad reality is, no salesperson at any sales job would ever show you the faults of what they were selling. they would not be in sale very long.

    We as consumers in the modern world, should be pretty conditioned, to say “what’s the catch” right? I dont see where we as the potential home buyer would be any different.

    I want to know whats wrong with it first, and i am always sure to mention that when it come up in conversation about the state of lawrenceville, or any other thing i am involved with.

    i was refering to the community as a product only in the sence of it being sold as one, and the honesty of….to break it down in its simplest terms…you can consider in the abstract form all of us as consumers, and everything we own, buy eat and drink as a product.
    If the real estate and “community groups” are going to sell it, it does take more of the human element out of what it really is…a living, breathing walking and talking comunity.
    (I was also trying to link that sentence with the idea that america is built on advertising, maybe that thought did not work so well)

    I know most of my neighbors have been here for decades, they actually still refer to us being “new” on the street since we have only been here 4 years.

    some of those people that have been here for decades are also contributing to the down fall of the comunity….just two doors down, a row house that we are a part of is significantly bowed out….there is barely a lick of morter left in those bricks, and soon it will come a tumblin down, but the residents of the house, who do own it, and have for decades….dont care.

    the south side 15 years ago….no one wanted to touch, untill the artists moved in

    east liberty no one wanted to go to because it was “the ghetto”

    I dont know where lawrenceville will be in 10 years, but i do hope i am here untill I am old and grey…all the things i mentioned about it that i love are true. It is going to go through changes, and we will have to just wait and see what they are and face them as the come.

    I can tell you that Lawrenceville will never be the same as it has before.

    thanks,
    ken


  21. Ken (unregistered) on November 5th, 2007 @ 9:42 am

    i was just thinking…

    i walk up and down butler st all the time, for either just walking to enjoy the weather, or to take pictures, or to pick up a pizza….

    maybe im not looking hard enough or in the right places, but i have never seen a used condom, or a needle…..actually i am going out today specificly to look for that with my camera.

    its weird, i do remember finding a half eaten bananna once, and for some reason i think its a popular thing for people to throw slices of tomato from the wendys sandwich on to the sidewalk.

    i will let you know what i find. im on a misson

    thanks
    ken


  22. elmotopp (unregistered) on November 5th, 2007 @ 1:20 pm

    I hope you’re not eating too many Lawrenceville pizzas. The ones at Pissaros are ok but if you want a really good pizza I would suggest Pizza Italia up on Liberty Avenue in Bloomfield. It would be equi-distant from your place on 40th street but the few extra steps will get you a really fine pizza.
    I didn’t get the banana thing. You say that you eat half a banana on Butler street and then they throw tomatoes at you from the Wendys window??? Sounds like a “They Might Be Giants” song. We should have a contest to see who can find the most condoms and needles on Butler street. It could be part of the cookie tour. You should come out for a walk at night not in the daytime, anyone can walk in the day time.
    your pal,
    Elmo


  23. Ken (unregistered) on November 5th, 2007 @ 2:10 pm

    yes,
    i thought you might say that night time, day time thing, however my camera does not work so well in low light, sorry.

    we do get pizza italia all the time, and i like pessaros sauce

    i did post an entry for my findings on my photography walk, however it was “held for approval, from the ownsers of the blog”

    460 pictures, no needles, no condoms, but alot of garbage we need to clean up

    k


  24. elmo topp (unregistered) on November 6th, 2007 @ 5:13 pm

    Well,I counted 14 condoms and only 6 needles but I must admit I didn’t find any on Butler street they were all found in the alleys just above and below Butler. Which reminds me, I need to get my dog some new boots. So,you may be right, that things are improving. When I read your last sentence a thought flashed through my mind. Were you referring to garbage as in trash or to human beings?
    You wouldn’t think of some people as garbage would you? I know some people think that way. I know you don’t.
    your pal,
    Elmo


  25. Ken (unregistered) on November 6th, 2007 @ 6:18 pm

    sorry, i meant 406, not 460

    no, i did not mean people, i meant rubbish, as in cigarette butts, cigarette packs, and fast food wrappers mostly

    i did run into an older gentleman on my journey, who instructed me to look in back alleys, he said “i find needles all the time” was that you elmo?

    i went on some side streets, but the argument was Butler Street, wich by many standards could be considerd clean, and as i had typed in the original post, that was not posted by the moderator….if we as residents would make more use of trash cans and ash trays, we probably wouldnt be having this conversation

    but it is something that any one can see, in just looking, no real estate agent or community group can cover that up……all they need to do is help pick it up.

    i hope i get to meet you sometime elmo, you are my kind of guy

    ken


  26. elmo topp (unregistered) on November 7th, 2007 @ 1:20 am

    No, that older gentleman wasn’t me but they say I do have some influence over the older folks around here, but only because I treat them kindly and with respect, and I pay close attention to what they have to say, besides, who ever heard of an older gent who mis-spells words or writes comments on blogs, that would be PREPOSTEROUS!

    The trash is one thing but I’m far more concerned about the quality of life and how good it can get for all the people living here. The trash doesn’t matter when you realize that there are people, old people, young people, single parents, families living nearby who are going to bed sick or hungry or that someone is up late worrying about their child or their parents or their job. So many people just trying to pay their bills.There are things we can do to help and helping makes the quality of life better for everyone in the community. There are people I wouldn’t even mention these things to. You could never approach them with any of this. Its just sad. Getting to know the people around you, learning about their lives, listening to their stories goes a long way.
    Listening to their troubles and sharing yours with them, even the people you think you have nothing in common with. Thats what the community was like, what it could be like again.I have to go now, my wife is saying “Wake up Elmo, you were having a good dream again”



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