Oakland (Pittsburgh)

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Neighborhoods of Pittsburgh
Former Borough
The University of Pittsburgh's Cathedral of Learning dominates Oakland's skyline.
The University of Pittsburgh's Cathedral of Learning dominates Oakland's skyline.
Country United States
State Pennsylvania
County Allegheny
Time zone Eastern (EST) (UTC-5)
 • Summer (DST) EDT (UTC-4)

Oakland is the academic and healthcare center of Pittsburgh, one of the city's major cultural centers, and is Pennsylvania's third largest "Downtown". Only Center City Philadelphia and Downtown Pittsburgh can claim more economic and social activity than Oakland.[1] The neighborhood is urban and diverse and is home to several universities, museums, and hospitals, as well as an abundance of shopping, restaurants, recreational activities and students. Oakland is home to the Schenley Farms National Historic District which encompasses two city designated historic districts: the mostly residential Schenley Farms Historic District and the predominantly institutional Oakland Civic Center Historic District. It is also home to the locally designated Oakland Square Historic District. The Pittsburgh Fire Bureau has Fire Station No. 14 on McKee Place and Fire Station No. 10 on Allequippa Street in Oakland.


Oakland is officially divided into four neighborhoods: North Oakland, West Oakland, Central Oakland, and South Oakland. Each section has a unique identity, and offers its own flavor of venues and housing. Oakland is Pittsburgh's second most populated neighborhood with 22,210 residents, a majority of these residents being students.

North Oakland

North Oakland can be loosely defined as the area of Oakland between Neville and Bouquet Streets, encompassing all of Craig Street and running north to Polish Hill. The Cathedral of Learning, the engineering or midsection of the University of Pittsburgh campus, and the Craig Street business district are in North Oakland.

RAND's Pittsburgh center is located in North Oakland as well as the long time RIDC business incubator on Henry Street.[3] North Oakland is also home to the Schenley Farms Historic District and many mid-rise condominium and apartment buildings.

Central Oakland

Central Oakland is bordered by Schenley Park, the Boulevard of the Allies, Fifth Avenue, and Halket Street. Many students at the University of Pittsburgh who decide to live off-campus reside in this neighborhood. Many of its homes are historic masonry structures dating from the turn of the century. The area is sometimes mistakenly called South Oakland. Its Main Business District runs along Forbes and Fifth Avenue, and contains a diversity of restaurants, retailers, and financial services. These businesses are organized by the Oakland Business Improvement District (OBID). Smaller business districts in Central Oakland provide additional dining options along Atwood Street and Semple Street. It is also the location of the relatively isolated and historic neighborhood of Panther Hollow which runs along Boundary Street in Junction Hollow as well as the Oakland Square Historic District.

South Oakland

South Oakland runs along the Monongahela River and forms a triangular shape between the Monongahela River, the Boulevard of the Allies, and the western bank of Junction Hollow. Magee-Womens Hospital of UPMC and the Pittsburgh Technology Center are major landmarks of this neighborhood. The neighborhood is split between a riverfront flood plain to the southwest and a plateau to the northeast. The plateau is divided into two primarily residential areas which are separated from one another by Bates Street, which runs up a valley from the flood plain to the plateau. The residents of the neighborhood on the north side of Bates Avenue self-identify their neighborhood as Oakcliffe. The flood plain was previously packed with industrial sites such as the Pittsburgh Works Consolidated Gas Co. and the Jones & Laughlin Steel Co.,[4] but presently, the Pittsburgh Technology Center hosts facilities such as the Entertainment Technology Center of Carnegie Mellon University.

It is important to note that some residents of Central Oakland misidentify that neighborhood as being part of South Oakland. In other words, the border between Central Oakland and South Oakland is much further south than is believed by some residents. The area between Forbes Avenue and Boulevard of the Allies is officially part of Central Oakland. Articles in some news media also make this error; for example, a column about street cleanliness near the University of Pittsburgh used the term "South Oakland" to describe an area entirely within the boundaries of Central Oakland.[5]

South Oakland can be reputed to be a student neighborhood, but in fact, only 36.9% of its population is between the ages of 18 and 24, compared to Central Oakland's figure of 74.1%.[6] This discrepancy is largely due to the fact mentioned above that the area between Forbes Avenue and the Boulevard of the Allies—which houses many undergraduate students—is commonly misidentified as being in South Oakland, when in fact it constitutes the heart of Central Oakland.

South Oakland was the childhood home of Andy Warhol, and later the residence of fellow pop artist Keith Haring. Haring had his first art show while living in Oakland. NFL Hall of Fame Quarterback Dan Marino was also born in Oakland, not far from Warhol's home. Dan Marino Field on Frazier Street was named in honor of its native son. Although they were not contemporaries, Warhol and Marino actually grew up on the same block and their former houses are merely a few doors down from each other.

West Oakland

West Oakland, the smallest of the four districts, is bordered by Fifth Avenue in the south, DeSoto Street in the east, the Birmingham Bridge to the west, and Allequippa Street to the north. Carlow University and most of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center can be found there.

Commonly misidentified

It should be noted that although the campus of Carnegie Mellon University and parts of Schenley Park, including Phipps Conservatory & Botanical Gardens and Flagstaff Hill, and are often popularly referred to as being located in Oakland, and are located with the 15213 zip code, they are technically located in the adjacent neighborhood of Squirrel Hill North. The border between Oakland and Squirrel Hill goes along Junction Hollow.

Oakland History

The name Oakland first appeared in 1839 in a local paper called Harris' Intelligencer. The area got its name from the abundance of oak trees found on the farm of William Eichenbaum, who settled there in 1840. Oakland developed rapidly following the Great Fire of 1845 in downtown Pittsburgh, with many people moving out to suburban territory. By 1860, there was considerable commercial development along Fifth Avenue.

In 1868, Oakland Township was annexed to the City of Pittsburgh.[7] Twenty-one years later, Mary Schenley gave the city 300 acres in Oakland for a park. Officials bought another 100 acres from her for "Schenley Park." And Mary Schenley gave another gift: land for Schenley Plaza. At Schenley Plaza, industrialist Andrew Carnegie built a library, museum and concert hall complex, which opened in 1895.

In 1917, Teddy Roosevelt visited the neighborhood.[8]

Oakland has long been considered Pittsburgh's university center. Carnegie Mellon University is the result of a 1967 merger of the Carnegie Institute of Technology, founded in Oakland in 1900 by Andrew Carnegie, and Mellon Institute, founded in 1913 by Andrew W. and Richard B. Mellon to conduct industrial research. The University of Pittsburgh, which is heir to the Pittsburgh Academy that was incorporated in 1787, relocated to Oakland in 1909 from its campus that was then in Allegheny.

Some of the most impressive architecture in Oakland is on Pitt's campus. In 1925, work began on what was then the world's tallest educational building, the 42-story Cathedral of Learning. Although the Cathedral of Learning is now the fourth-tallest educationally purposed building in the world, it remains the world's second tallest university building, the tallest educational building in the Western Hemisphere,[9] and the second tallest gothic-styled building in the world.[10] Oakland is also home to the university's French-Gothic revival Heinz Memorial Chapel and St. Paul Cathedral, the seat of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh. It is also home of the main branch of the Carnegie Library, the Carnegie Museum, and Phipps Conservatory.

Baseball fans might know Oakland for the beloved Forbes Field, which was built in 1909 as the third home to the Pittsburgh Pirates and first home to the Pittsburgh Steelers. While Forbes Field was closed in 1970, some remnants of the ballpark still stand. Pirates fans gather on the site each year on the anniversary of Bill Mazeroski's World Series winning home run on October 13, 1960.

The Decade nightclub was a staple of the neighborhood in the 1970s and 1980s.[11]

Oakland facts

  • Oakland's University of Pittsburgh Medical Center pioneered modern organ transplant surgery (home of Dr. Thomas Starzl). In 1955, the first effective polio vaccine was developed by Dr. Jonas Salk at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.
  • WQED, Pittsburgh's PBS station and the first community-sponsored television station in the United States, has been located in Oakland since 1954, although it moved from its original building to a new, larger one in 1970. WQED's first building, which had originally been the manse of a neighboring church, is now the Music Building of the University of Pittsburgh's main campus. Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood, the nationally syndicated children's show, was taped at WQED's studios in Oakland.
  • WDTV-TV, now KDKA-TV, the region's first television station, went on the air at the Syria Mosque in Oakland on 11 January 1949. The event, aired on all four TV networks of the time DuMont, CBS, NBC, and ABC, was the first to "network" East Coast and Midwest TV stations into a modern "television network" of Pittsburgh and 13 other cities from Boston to St. Louis.

Oakland attractions


The skyline of West, Central, and North Oakland as viewed from Flagstaff Hill

See also


  1. 1.00 1.01 1.02 1.03 1.04 1.05 1.06 1.07 1.08 1.09 1.10 1.11 1.12 Although adjacent to Oakland, these attractions are technically just within the official border of Squirrel Hill North although they are almost always popularly considered to be located in Oakland.


  1. Powell, Albrecht. "Oakland - Neighborhood of Pittsburgh". About.com. Retrieved 2012-12-11.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 2.7 "PGHSNAP 2010 Raw Census Data by Neighborhood". Pittsburgh Department of City Planning PGHSNAP Utility. 2012. Retrieved 21 June 2013. External link in |publisher= (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. Wilhelm, Kathy (July 25, 1985), "Incubators help hatch new firms", Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Pittsburgh, PA<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. "Real estate plat-book of the city of Pittsburgh : from official records, private plans and actual surveys, Volume 1. Plate 15". G. M. Hopkins & Co. 1904. Retrieved 19 October 2011.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. O'Neill, Brian (11 December 2011). "Can Pitt get SOUL (i.e., South Oakland Urban Litter)?". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved 11 December 2011.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. Bloom, Albert W. (Jan 14, 1953). "Pittsburgh today made up of many villages". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. p. 23. Retrieved 2 December 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. http://bradystewartphoto.photoshelter.com/image/I0000TJ5bDxT9mYY
  9. "Moscow State University, Moscow, Russia". Emporis. Retrieved 2 August 2010.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. "Cathedral of Learning, Pittsburgh". SkyscraperPage.com. Retrieved 2012-12-07.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  11. https://news.google.com/newspapers?id=PBkeAAAAIBAJ&sjid=6mEEAAAAIBAJ&pg=5076%2C3190859
  • Toker, Franklin (1994) [1986]. Pittsburgh: An Urban Portrait. Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press. ISBN 0-8229-5434-6.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links

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