One of Pittsburgh’s largest neighborhoods, Lawrenceville is located northeast of downtown and sits along the city’s riverfront. Founded by William Foster, the father of composer, Stephen Foster, it is named after Captain James Lawrence, a hero of the War of 1812. Lawrenceville is the home to fine dining, vintage clothing and furniture stores, art galleries, and eclectic coffee shops. Flaneur might eloquently dub Lawrenceville “a neighborhood in transition.” A film we watched in Discussion class called, “Mombies,” comically portrays Lawrenceville as a “hip” or trendy area experiencing an influx of young parents pushing strollers. Implicit in this portrayal of Lawrenceville is that the neighborhood is dichotomous — that the differences between its diverse residents hurt neighborhood relationships, or at least complicate them, rather than help them.
While there is no doubt that the neighborhood of Lawrenceville has evolved over the years, my understanding of the neighborhood is now substantially different from the original impressions bestowed to me via class readings and films. I have come to learn Lawrenceville as a neighborhood in which young and aspiring artists may live happily next door to an older, snow-shoeing couple. Coffee shop owners know their customer’s names and favorite drinks. In several of the shops on Butler, owners set up large tables overflowing with their neighbor’s business cards and flyers for neighborhood events, like “Art All Night” and “The Blossom Tour.” My impression of the neighborhood is that it seems to have evolved from a poorer, struggling, crime ridden neighborhood, into a caring community, whose residents support and care for one another – despite glaring differences in age, dress, and interests. As volunteer, artist, and local resident, Debbie Bobeck, once told the University of Pittsburgh’s “Original” magazine, in Lawrenceville, “You can wear red, and purple and blue here and no one will look twice” (Issue 6, 105).