Sunday, July 16, 2006

Pittsburgh, town of niches.

Tonight I went to dinner at a friend's house in Manchester (North Side), and spending time there reminded me of how many special niches there are throughout the diverse neighborhoods of Pittsburgh. It should go without saying, but I feel compelled to note that you don't have to be a millionaire to find an extraordinary living arrangement in this city.

The North Side is a mixed income part of town, with housing options ranging from low income projects to magificent restored Victorian-style homes. My friend, who works as an engineer in the high-tech sector, lives in an apartment in a refurbished paint company building. His place would fit naturally in the pages of Home and Garden. It was redone (probably) in the late 80's or early 90's, and has a multi-tiered sprawling layout with efficiency and simplicity worked into its design. It has at least two separate bedrooms, with other areas that could be used as such. There is an outdoor patio accessible from the kitchen/dining area that is surrounded on three sides by other living areas, including an exposed bath and separate two-head shower. The remaining side has large windows cut from the original brick of the exterior of the house, and it is all open air above. Accessible by spiral stairwell from this patio is a rooftop deck, with a full 360 degree view of downtown, the river, multiple neighborhoods and the surrounding hills . It is an incredible rarity in a town with this topography to have this kind of view. In addition there is an elevator, reserved solely for the private use of this apartment, that leads to an indoor two-car garage and private driveway.

All of this comes for a price that would get you a tiny, rundown, one room hovel in the worst part of Manhattan. Although this is certainly a special living space, I have seen others that, while clearly different, were certainly as extraordinary. I have a friend who used to rent very cheaply a riverside dwelling with its own dock. Another lives a short drive from the city in a castle, with a private pond, acres of trees and several large meadows. She works as an artist. I have been to many parties of acquaintances in refurbished industrial buildings that have left me in awe. Friends and family have purchased large stately homes in transitional neighborhoods for eminently reasonable prices.

The upside about living in a city that has passed its manufacturing peak is all the unique locations for living, work and play. These things are available (for purchase) in this city for middle and upper middle level income brackets. If you are willing to put some time and patience into the search, you too can find a space to buy or rent that will astound people from out of town.


Blogger Susan Constanse said...

That sounds magnificent. There are some really beautiful buildings in Manchester. During Renaissance II, many of them were sold for the price of the title transfer and a lot of artists moved into that area. That was back in the late 70's and early 80's.

7:44 AM  
Blogger Merge Divide said...

Yeah... ever since I moved to Pittsburgh I have been hearing that the North Side/Manchester will be the "next big thing". Unfortunately it is just too spread out, and still has too many rough patches, to get anything really concentrated happening. It does have its gems however.

10:33 AM  
Blogger John Morris said...

I think the North Side is my favorite part of Pittsburgh. But mostly I go to just dream about what it could be and should be.

7:44 AM  
Blogger Merge Divide said...

Yeah well... just don't be daydreaming too much... you're liable to find yourself with a piece of night stuck in your throat, and your body sprawled out on the pavement with your empty pockets turned inside out.

1:33 PM  
Blogger John Morris said...

Should have opened a gun store on the north side.

5:32 PM  

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