Several weeks ago the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported that plans are in the works to change the traffic pattern around the former Allegheny Center. Gone will be the unneeded four lane highways in the middle of the City's oldest neighborhoods and in return we'll have more sensible, livable streets with two-way traffic, a bike lane, and something a bit more hospitable for pedestrians.
But we shouldn't stop there. John Redick's 1788 street plan may be irrevocably altered but the current four-lane highways slated for a road diet occupy the same space as four streets of Allegheny City's original grid. These streets (and the street names they replaced) are:
- N Commons = Erie St.
- S Commons = Stockton Ave.
- E Commons = Sandusky St.
- W Commons = Arch St.
When Allegheny Center was created out of the razed buildings of Allegheny City in the 1960s, the focus was on creating a new center of gravity, independent from the historic neighborhoods across the park. And this meant that old street names had to go, replaced by new ones that emphasized the surrounding park and severed the connection to the surrounding communities. But it is in those communities that fragments of the original street plan, and the historic street names, remain.
Part of Stockton Ave. exists in the southern lead up to Deutschtown. Sandusky St. leads to the 7th St. Bridge. Arch St. runs the length of the Mexican War Streets.
The proposed changes to make the current streets friendlier and more livable is wonderful and long overdue. And as we did with the former Penn Circle, let's use this opportunity to bring back the historic street names and take a small step to knitting the North Side back together.