South Pittsburgh Reporter - Serving South Pittsburgh Since 1939

By Margaret L. Smykla
Contributing Writer 

South Side Voices project will celebrate Carson Historic District

 

January 23, 2018



It is the buildings on East Carson St. that will be the 2018 focus of South Side Voices: Stories on Carson.

To celebrate the 25-year anniversary of the East Carson St. City Historic District designation, South Side Community Council (SSCC) and the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh-South Side (CLP-SS) are collecting stories about the street.

“The idea behind the project is to give South Siders an avenue to talk about South Side – past, present, and future,” Juliette Rihl, a Coro Fellow in Public Affairs said at the Jan. 17 informational meeting held at the library. 

She is working with the SSCC in partnership with the CLP-SS on the oral history project. Funding is from the Heinz Endowment. 

“When we realized that the historical designation was 25 years, it became a good way to start the project and focus on buildings,” SSCC President Barbara Rudiak said.

The South Side Voices oral history project is tentatively envisioned as being on-going, with future projects focused on, for example, the Slopes, parks, bridges, churches, and more.

“Once we do the buildings project for a year we might have an interest in keeping Voices, and speak with residents about music or art or churches on the South Side.

“That way, our stories are more focused,” Ms. Rudiak said.

The plan is for the finished buildings project to appear digitally; as a potential CLP-SS exhibit; incorporation into the Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation walking tours; as a public art portrait project; and more.

There may also be a ticketed fundraising event at City Theatre during which some of the stories would be told.

Among the buildings for which stories are sought are: the South High School apartments; Esser’s Floral Shop; Club Café; The Market House; South Bank Galleries; Amazing Books; Starbucks; Carson City Saloon; Beneficial Building; Nakama; Maul Building; The Milkshake Factory; PNC; Fat Head’s Saloon; CLP-SS; and Mallorca.

“But any building that falls within the historic district of East Carson St. is a building of interest,” Ms. Rihl said.

Anyone with a story is encouraged to come to one of two story collection dates at CLP-SS, 2205 East Carson St. from Noon to 4 p.m. on Feb. 18 and March 18. Participants may also bring old photos, articles, documents, and more.

For more information, residents may stop at the library during the annual South Side Soup Contest from noon to 3 p.m. on Feb. 17 and speak with Ms. Rihl. They may also email her at jrihl.fellow@coropittsburgh.org.

Questions may also be sent to southsidevoices@southsidecommunitycouncil.org .

Following the two story collection events, the focus will be mainly on transcription, editing, and publication.

Ms. Rihl said she hopes to cut down each story to a two-to-three minute audio clip, with the full interview archived.

Besides celebrating the 25th anniversary of the historic district designation, Ms. Rihl said the purpose of the project is to preserve East Carson St.’s rich history and to promote South Side as a vibrant and multifaceted community.

Everyone who makes up the diverse fabric of the South Side is encouraged to share their stories: lifelong residents, business owners, students, former residents, and new faces.

“We don’t want to always be talking about long-time residents,” Ms. Rudiak said.

“Everyone can contribute to stories about the South Side. We want to be broad.

“Kids can have stories to tell, as can students and people who lived here a short time,” she said.

Ms. Rihl has been meeting with people with stories to tell for about 10 weeks, and who refer her to other people, to whom she plans to reach out.

“We have a list of names, some of which I have heard over and over again, which is good,” she said.

Ms. Rihl will be working with the SSCC on the oral history project until the end of April when her fellowship ends.

“We appreciate that Juliette works on this Tuesdays through Fridays so she is able to make contact with the Pittsburgh History and Landmarks Foundation and the universities, and learn how to actually record.

“She connected with Duquesne University and their Public History Program, which has students working on oral history who are available to do internships on this project as part of their studies.

“It also fits with Duquesne’s strategic plan of community involvement,” Ms. Rudiak said.

At the Jan. 17 meeting, Jennifer Taylor, an assistant professor of public history at Duquesne, said she would talk to interested graduate students in an oral history class about volunteering to help develop questions; assist with interviews; help with editing and the final work; and more.

“They may have ideas we never thought of.

“They see a project and take it on and make it their own,” Ms. Rudiak said of students.

Residents may volunteer with marketing, such as placing flyers in establishments, and at tables explaining the project at community events. Contact Ms. Rihl if interested.

“It’s an opportunity for people to get involved who don’t want to pull weeds,” Ms. Rudiak said.

In the same South Side history vein, artist Kelly Carter said at the meeting that she plans to take photos of South Side residents for a public art project, similar to one she did last year on a wall in Braddock.

In this case, the photos would be displayed as a picture mural on a wall by ASCEND Pittsburgh, 2141 Mary St.

Efforts are underway to obtain permission to do the work on the property.

 

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