Pittsburgh’s Larimer- A Legacy Neighborhood Poised for Rejuvenation

The neighborhood takes its name from William Larimer, who after making a fortune in the railroad industry, built a manor house overlooking East Liberty. His daughter married a Mellon who eventually sold off the land for real estate speculation. German immigrants came to Larimer in the later half of the 19th century leaving a mark with the still standing St. Peter and Paul gothic church (featured in the Dogma movie).  By the early 1900s Italians from Abruzzi, Calabria, Campania, Sicily and Northern Italians became the dominant ethnic group. These settlers were slightly better-off than their Bloomfield kinsmen and therefore built somewhat nicer detached brick homes with small yards. Larimer was Pittsburgh’s Little Italy until the 1960s when residents began moving to the suburbs and other Pittsburgh neighborhoods (most notably Stanton Heights and Morningside).  Urban renewal efforts in adjacent East Liberty and new housing projects helped accelerate Larimer’s deterioration.

Larimer used to be a thriving, dense community with distinct commercial districts along Larimer Avenue and Lincoln Avenues supplementing the thriving shopping hub of East Liberty. Frankstown and Hamilton Avenues along Larimer’s southern border hosted numerous industrial and warehousing plants. Sadly much of the fabric was removed with the neighborhood’s decline, especially its commercial districts. Larimer used to have a population of around 10,000, which meant a density of 25K per sq mile. Now it sits at around 2,000 souls.

Even with all this deterioration, Larimer has great urban bones. Its sits next to the revitalizing East Liberty complete with new apartments, shopping, and convenient access to the Bus Way. Google has set up shop on Larimer’s southern border creating the Bakery Square development (a mixed of office, apartments, and retail), and entrepreneurs are slowly filling empty warehouses along Hamilton and Frankstown (i.e. Eastend Brewing Company, Absolute Ballroom,  KLVN Coffee Lab, and Red Star Kombucha.) Thus Larimer remains a very walkable and transit rich community. With a robust revitalization strategy, Larimer could easily become a viable urban community.
Click here to view my full Larimer Album on Flickr
URBAN STRENGTHS

* Great public transit and good access to major jobs centers (i.e. downtown, Oakland, and esp. Bakery Square, which resides in Larimer).
* Several bike stations site on Larimer’s southern edge (i.e. Bakery Square) and two dedicated bike lanes run along the district’s edges on Negley Run and E. Liberty Blvds.
* Decent amount of families here and generational diversity.
* Good recreational amenities including the Kingsley Center, several community gardens, playgrounds, and pocket parks.
* Neighborhood amenities are concentrated in Bakery Square and adjacent shopping areas in East Liberty. This includes a target, several grocery stores, several restaurants & cafes, Staples, and several retail stores. This is all within a mile for most residents. Some amenities also opening along Hamilton and Frankstown Rd as warehoused get repurposed (i.e. dance studio, cross training, East End Brewery, auto parts and contracting supply stores).
* Other than a couple art galleries cultural amenities are concentrated in Bakery Square and adjacent East Liberty. 

URBAN WEAKNESSES

* High poverty rate including 1/3 of the population with a AHI of around 35K.
* Listed for-sale product is limited. Generally lower end product but an increasing about of renovated product selling in the 100Ks. Most homes still selling below 100K.
* Significant amount of blight and abandonment remain in the neighborhood. Rental product is very limited. High end units however, are now available across the street from Larimer on Penn Ave.
* Limited racial and economic diversity.
* 2 public schools located within Larimer but not highly rated. Several other schools nearby in adjacent East Liberty, Homewood, and Shadyside with mixed ratings. 

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