Panther Hollow residents extend their deepest gratitude to Mayor Ed Gainey for his decision to abandon the Mon-Oakland Connector project that would have constructed a roadway through Panther Hollow and Four Mile Run, to connect Hazelwood Green to the University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University. Truth and justice have prevailed.
That important decision signifies a new consciousness at City Hall that upholds the dignity of city residents. Should Mayor Gainey continue on this Pathway of Dignity, he will surely be remembered and revered as one of the great mayors of the City of Pittsburgh.
We extend our deepest gratitude to all those individuals who saw the injustice of this project from the very beginning and provided support. They helped us to move forward even when the outlook seemed insurmountable.
We are most grateful to the courageous Four Mile Run residents who cared just as deeply for their neighborhood as we stood together in solidarity, and for organizations such as Pittsburghers for Public Transit. Their fearless and continuously strong actions were vital to this triumph.
We are also grateful to those who opposed us, and to those who chose silence and offered no support. They only strengthened our resolve and determination to end the injustice.
The means to an end is more important than the end itself. When individuals are confident in their own abilities to achieve success, they proceed with harm to none. Words were the primary means to the end to achieve this triumph; thousands of words were used from the very beginning when this project first became known to the community on August 29, 2015, in an article in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
The next step is for Oakland organizations to unite with one another, as well as with the mayor and his administrators, to demand hundreds of millions of dollars or more in compensation, from the University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University, for the severe impact they have had on their host community.
The monies received will be used to realize the shared vision of residents, and of the mayor and his administrators, for a new beginning for Oakland’s community.
The Litchfield Consciousness, one of the most destructive for a residential community hosting a university, should never exist in any city, university, or certainly any urban environment. Tragically, it is deep-rooted in the University of Pittsburgh where it originated and in the city of Pittsburgh which is the university’s host. What follows is a thoughtful examination of that consciousness with all of its resultant chaos, devastation, pain, and suffering brought to the host community.
Edward Litchfield was chancellor of the University of Pittsburgh from 1956 to 1965. He was an outsider to the community, as all of the university’s past chancellors have been, who attempted to dictate how the community should live and even whether the community should exist or not.
During his short tenure, he set in motion a wave of ruination for Oakland’s residential community, which continues to fight to maintain its identity and very existence today. He was dismissed by the university trustees in 1965, in part due to placing the university in financial debt. He passed away two years later, but his consciousness is still very much alive today within the university and throughout the city.
Panther Hollow Project
On June 6, 1963, Litchfield unveiled his plan that was known as the Panther Hollow project. It was described as a 21st Century Research Park that would be one of the “architectural wonders of the world,” and become the “nucleus of the nation’s first 21st century city.” The initial phase was to begin at Fifth Avenue and expand down Neville Street, at a width of up to 900 feet and a length of one mile. The project would have cut through Panther Hollow, eradicating the neighborhood and reducing it to rubble. His plan was to build a 21st century “city within a city” while destroying the existing neighborhood within a neighborhood.
His intention was to then continue the project through the Four Mile Run neighborhood in Greenfield, eradicating it as well, until it reached the banks of the Monongahela River.
The main purpose was to create useable income-producing space for the University of Pittsburgh. The plan stated: “The Panther Hollow project was conceived and developed for a high economic purpose: to lay the foundation for and to help build a new and urgently needed supplemental industrial complex in Pittsburgh and the surrounding region.”
Panther Hollow Community
The history of Panther Hollow, one of Pittsburgh’s first Italian neighborhoods, is the quintessential story of the immigration experience in America. Early settlers began arriving in the late 1800s, largely from the two small towns of Gamberale and Pizzoferrato – humble peasants in search of honest work and a new life. They were skilled bricklayers, cement finishers, and laborers who built most of the neighborhood. They constructed homes, cemented the sidewalks, and dug out mud two feet deep to build a red brick street for their neighborhood. The women cared for their own families as well as for the welfare of numerous boarders in this new neighborhood. It became a close-knit community in which no one was a stranger and everyone knew their neighbors.
In 1900, over 200 Italians were living in Panther Hollow, and in 1920, at the height of the Italian immigration experience in America, the population grew to approximately 470. When Litchfield decided that Panther Hollow didn’t deserve to exist next to his university, three generations of Italians lived there – the first arrivals who came at the turn of the century, their children, and their grandchildren.
Litchfield was insensitive to that sacred history, and when he announced his grandiose expansion project, the community sprung into action. An organization called Citizens Against the Ravages of Urban Renewal was formed. Eugene “Jeep” DePasquale, whose parents were among the early settlers, travelled to Washington D.C. and spoke before the U.S. Senate on behalf of the organization. Another descendent of the early settlers, Nicholas Diulus, expressed the sentiments of the community when he said that you couldn’t give him enough money to move out of his home and his neighborhood, and that he would fight the project to his last drop of blood.
In 1965, the Panther Hollow project failed.
The Panther Hollow project. (Click on the images to see a large version.)
The Litchfield Consciousness
Since Litchfield’s attempts, history has shown that the Litchfield Consciousness has continuously been deeply engrained within the University of Pittsburgh and the city of Pittsburgh. The university now owns over 100 buildings in the neighborhood, and is currently purchasing new property. Meanwhile, the decline of the longtime residential population is approaching 90% since the university moved from the North Side to Oakland in 1908.
It is important to understand the key components of the oppressive Litchfield Consciousness. The Panther Hollow project illuminates the fact that the keystone of that consciousness is the devaluation of human dignity and the elevation of economic profit as the highest priority. The cornerstone of that consciousness is that of domination, manipulation, and instilling fear.
The Panther Hollow project was an attempt of ethnic cleansing – later extended to residential and elderly cleansing – not cleansing that results in physical death, but rather results in the death of the hopes and dreams of those whom it severely impacts.
The Litchfield Consciousness doesn’t permeate the entire being of a person. It is an insidious consciousness that is compartmentalized and activated in matters pertaining mainly to the expansion plans of the university. It causes a person to lose his or her moral compass. Some individuals who possess the Litchfield Consciousness are considered stalwarts in society, and deserve praise for their many contributions. They can be found attending, preaching, and leading singing in churches, donating to charities, and volunteering to help the needy, among many other wonderful good deeds.
The Litchfield Consciousness, although abhorrent and destructive, was fully accepted and embraced by the University of Pittsburgh. Edward Litchfield was given the high honor of having buildings named after him. The three tallest and largest dormitories of the university bear his name – Litchfield Towers.
The Consciousness Spreads
South Bouquet Street – In 1958, during Litchfield’s reign, the university purchased the iconic Forbes Field for a little over $3 million with the stipulation that the Pirates would play there until Three Rivers Stadium opened. An article in the University Times quoted a university director of public relations referring to that purchase: “. . . the plan was to eliminate the Oakland community in all directions surrounding the site of Forbes Field.”
The article went on to say: “In 1967, to expedite Pitt’s expansion, the General State Assembly (GSA) stepped in and, invoking eminent domain condemned all the buildings in the two-block area south of Forbes Avenue between Oakland Avenue and South Bouquet Street, and sent eviction notices to tenants and business owners there, many of whom were long-term occupants. The GSA also declared that only academic buildings could be developed in the two-block area, a position that became important later.” The two-block area referenced above was located across the street from Forbes Field.
In 1971, the university demolished Forbes Field. Prior to the university’s invoking eminent domain and demolishing Forbes Field, over 200 longtime residents and only about a dozen students were living on South Bouquet Street. Today, only two longtime residents and about 800 students live there. Eminent domain is meant to be exercised for the public good, not for the selfish interests of a university. The invoking of eminent domain was a catastrophic social injustice. The residential cleansing of South Bouquet Street, including many of the elderly whose families had called it home for generations, is almost complete.
That street is one example of the domination and manipulation inherent in the Litchfield Consciousness. University administrators knowingly used manipulative lies to the community by saying that constructing two Bouquet Garden dormitory buildings in that eminent domain area would remove students from the residential neighborhood. They used the same lies to justify the construction of dormitory buildings in other parts of Oakland, while at the same time increasing their student enrollment to nearly 30,000 students.
Forbes Avenue – The Litchfield Consciousness permeates this street. University administrators are fully aware that the community cannot attract young families or grow a neighborhood when its business district is destroyed by the presence of student dormitories and other university–related buildings. During the current administration, massive dormitories have been – and continue to be – under construction on Forbes Avenue. In addition, the university announced that it is spending $1.9 million to purchase the Allegheny County Health Department Medical Building next to the future student housing site. This purchase is a part of their plan to turn that street into an alleged innovation center. The Litchfield Consciousness continues, with Litchfield’s original words “research park” simply being replaced by “innovation center”.
University of Pittsburgh Faculty – The university faculty is an example of the Litchfield Consciousness that not only dominates and manipulates but also instills fear in others. A culture of fear fills the university. Faculty members are too fearful to say what they honestly feel in matters pertaining to university expansion. When Litchfield announced his Panther Hollow project, not a single faculty voice publicly opposed the plan. Today, none of the 5,000 faculty members has publicly spoken out in opposition to the university’s uncontrolled growth that is decimating the residential community of Oakland. It is phenomenal that 5,000 intelligent faculty members all apparently think alike on matters pertaining to the university’s uncontrolled expansion.
The Mayor – In 2015, the city announced a plan, reminiscent of the Litchfield Consciousness, to build a roadway through the neighborhoods of Panther Hollow and Four Mile Run in order to connect the old Almono site in Hazelwood to the University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University. It would have eventually accomplished what Litchfield had initially wanted to do: eradicate these two neighborhoods. The Litchfield Consciousness attracts the like-minded. The disgraced former leader of Uber was in consultation with the mayor to use the roadway for that company’s autonomous vehicles. The mayor often speaks of his Italian roots and his grandfather’s immigration experience, as well as his desire to protect Pittsburgh neighborhoods. However, the roadway initiative he advocates is a continuation of the Litchfield Consciousness in which glory, greed, and economic profit take precedence over human dignity.
City Council – Pittsburgh City Council members have passed hundreds of bills in the last ten years, but never even attempted to introduce a bill to end the uncontrolled growth of the University of Pittsburgh. The city council is an example of this basic truth: Individuals who choose to dominate, manipulate, or instill fear need victims. The Litchfield Consciousness cannot exist unless there are those who are willing to fall victim to that consciousness. The massive excavation taking place now on Forbes Avenue by a developer from Dallas, Texas to build more students housing is another example of the council’s role as victims. The developer mentioned in a public meeting that he could not do the same project in California because the state laws prevent him from doing so. The Litchfield Consciousness thrives when there are willing victims and good people who choose to do nothing.
Allegheny County Executive Director – At the forefront of the new grandiose plan to make Pittsburgh the innovation center of the world is the executive director of Allegheny County. He is the main supporter for the Allegheny Council approving the University of Pittsburgh’s purchase of the above mentioned medical building on Forbes Avenue. He is also a fervent supporter of the roadway initiative, despite the fact that his mother-in-law was born and raised in Panther Hollow. Sensitivity and empathy to the wants and needs of a community, especially the elderly, are not a priority of the Litchfield Consciousness.
Pittsburgh Foundations – The old Almono site in Hazelwood is owned by three of Pittsburgh’s largest foundations – Heinz Endowments, Richard King Mellon Foundation, and the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation. These foundations are also at the forefront of the roadway initiative through Panther Hollow and Four Mile Run. These leaders’ actions are an example of how the Litchfield Consciousness is compartmentalized. These foundations give millions and millions of dollars to worthy organizations, ensuring their leaders are esteemed in the city. Recently, the Heinz Endowments announced a major donation for a Mister Rogers Neighborhood project. Mister Rogers Neighborhood is as sacred to its followers as Panther Hollow and Four Mile Run are to their longtime residents.
The Media – One of the most formidable protectors of our basic rights is the media: men and women entrusted with accounting for the integrity and identity of our residential communities. Tragically, the media has never conducted an ongoing, in-depth investigation of the University of Pittsburgh which is systematically destroying the residential community of Oakland. Their inaction is another example of how the Litchfield Consciousness can instill fear in others. It is safer for them not to rock the boat and possibly jeopardize the revenue they receive from the university and its supporters, not to jeopardize their relationship with university administrators who are a source of information, or not to potentially uncover wrongdoing which could tarnish the image of the university and the city. It is safer to remain silent and sit by idly as a residential community – which they had been entrusted to serve – vanishes before their very eyes.
Oakland Organizations – University administrators can provide a long list of all they do for Oakland organizations and the community. However, it is astounding that none of them, or very few if any, of their 5,000 faculty members live in Oakland. All of these individuals could live nearby and walk to work, but choose not to live in a neighborhood that they have helped to create. The university’s generosity is very much akin to a dominating husband who showers his wife with gifts in order to maintain control over her. The wife may even deny the abuse, or even defend the husband, when others bring the abuse to light. The deep fear instilled by the Litchfield Consciousness can lead Oakland organizations to mask, deny, or ignore any wrongdoing.
Litchfield Consciousness Begins to Erode
In 2015, when the city announced plans for its roadway initiative, one of the foundation owners of the old Almono site was the McCune Foundation. They have since sold their interest to the Richard King Mellon Foundation. The leaders decided not to continue involvement in an initiative that would severely impact two neighborhoods. Kevin Acklin, the mayor’s chief of staff and a strong advocate of the roadway initiative, announced his resignation effective in January 2018. He was born and raised in South Oakland and attended a high school with many young men of Panther Hollow. Subra Suresh was president of Carnegie Mellon University in 2015 and another strong advocate of the roadway initiative. CMU is deeply infected with the Litchfield Consciousness and their administrators have laid a path of destruction in North Oakland. Suresh resigned in 2017 and doing so became the shortest tenure of any president of that university. He moved to Singapore with his wife. Karina Ricks was hired as the director of the newly formed city Department of Mobility and Infrastructure. On October 6, 2017, she took a public action that was unheard of: she made a decision that went against the plans of the universities, city, foundations, and their supporters. She chose not to apply for a federal grant for monies that could be used for the roadway initiative.
When individuals take actions to prioritize human dignity, and do the right thing simply because it is the right thing to do, they gain self-respect and earn the respect of everyone who shares those beliefs. Thus, the Litchfield Consciousness begins to erode.
Communities get destroyed when good people choose to do nothing.
The Litchfield Consciousness is an outdated consciousness that will have no place in a world becoming new. Not simply an improvement of the same old world, but the beginnings of a New World. Choice is seminal to that change.
The Litchfield Consciousness has always been a conscious choice. Therefore, it will also be a conscious choice of good people to end this destructive consciousness. Choice alongside beliefs are the most powerful raw materials for creating this new world.
What will you choose to do to end the Litchfield Consciousness?
On July 29, 2018, residents and supporters of Panther Hollow and The Run held a protest rally at the monument site in Panther Hollow, and then proceeded to walk to The Run. The purpose of the protest was to send an unequivocal signal to city, university, and foundation leaders that this proposed roadway, from the old Almono site in Hazelwood (now called Hazelwood Green) to Oakland, is neither wanted nor needed by our two communities. Speeches were given in Panther Hollow and The Run. The following is one of those speeches.
July 29, 2018
By Carlino Giampolo
I would like to thank the residents of Panther Hollow and The Run, as well as all of our supporters, for being here today for this historic gathering. We unite as one to urge city administrators, foundation leaders, and university leaders to end the plan to build a roadway through our two neighborhoods.
Panther Hollow, one of the first Italian neighborhoods in the city of Pittsburgh, is a cultural treasure. This historic neighborhood should be protected and preserved, not threatened with an ill-conceived roadway. The Italian history of Panther Hollow is the quintessential story of the immigration experience in America that dates back to the 1880s when immigrants, mainly from the two towns of Gamberale and Pizzoferrato in the region of Abruzzi, settled here.
That first generation of humble, honest, hard-working immigrants came in search of a new life and brought with them their Italian traditions. In 1900, over 200 Italians lived on this street, and by 1920, that number grew to 470. Many of the early immigrants built their own homes and created a self-contained community with six stores, two banks, a travel company, cows and a milk company, vegetable gardens, and wine vineyards. Families looked out for one another and it was a place where everybody knew each other’s name. A detailed history of our neighborhood is on the website: www.PantherHollow.us
This is not the first time that Panther Hollow has been threatened with an ill-conceived development plan. In 1963, University of Pittsburgh Chancellor Edward Litchfield proposed a 21stCentury Research Park that would have begun at 5thAvenue and Neville Street, and continue through Panther Hollow and The Run until it reached the banks of the Monongahela River. In Panther Hollow, 60 homes would have been destroyed and over 250 Italians displaced. In addition, Central Catholic High School would have been destroyed, depriving any future students of graduating from there. The second generation of Italians, that of my parents, prevailed and Litchfield was defeated.
It is now up to us, the succeeding generations of our ancestors, whether you live here or not, to protect and preserve our historic neighborhood.
To those who propose this roadway, I have already provided numerous solutions that would not impact our two neighborhoods. Four roadways already in existence can be used instead: Second Avenue to Brady Street, Second Avenue to Bates Street, Greenfield Avenue to the Greenfield Bridge onto the Boulevard of the Allies, and Greenfield Avenue to Swinburne Street. In each of those alternatives, the travel time from Saline Street and Greenfield Avenue until you are in Oakland is, well, less than 10 minutes. This destructive roadway plan, which would save only a few minutes in drive time, is convenient for the universities and foundations, but devastating for our two historic communities. I have also suggested simply to employ express buses from the old Almono site to Oakland. These are just two of 12 suggestions that are on the website www.SavePantherHollow.com.
I had also asked 10 of the top city, university, and foundation leaders who support the roadway, to please provide to us in detail all of the benefits to the Panther Hollow community, especially to the elderly residents who have lived here their entire lives, and who wish to live the remainder of their lives here in dignity and peace.Those leaders failed to provide any benefits. They all chose silence.
We all know who benefits the most:
They are the University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University. These are institutions of higher education. Should they not also have leaders of higher intelligence who can creatively figure out how to help the Hazelwood community without destroying Panther Hollow and The Run?
The roadway also benefits the foundations who own the old Almono site in Hazelwood. These foundations spent nearly $10 million dollars on the purchase of that property as well as for studies to support the proposed roadway. Would that money not have been better used to help the disenfranchised in our city?
The roadway also benefits our Italian mayor’s political ambitions. Should he not be using his energies to protect and preserve our historic Italian neighborhood, and to support efforts to enhance the neighborhood by building an Italian Cultural Center here? Should Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald, whose mother-in-law was born and raised here, not do the same?
This neighborhood is sacred to us. We deeply honor and highly respect the legacy of our ancestors who came before us and sacrificed to make Panther Hollow a special place. They may very well be looking down on us, saying: keep on, keeping on, for your cause is just.
We will. We will stand tall, stand proud, stand out. We will triumph. There will be no roadway through Panther Hollow and The Run.
Carlino Giampolo, the unofficial mayor of Oakland, has loved his community for more than thirty years, which is why he’s fighting the city’s most recent expansion project and pledging to “Save Panther Hollow.”
Giampolo has long campaigned against the University for the preservation of his community in Panther Hollow, a tiny neighborhood which lies along Boundary Street in the Junction Hollow valley below Oakland.
Now, he wants to raise awareness for another campaign against a proposed transportation corridor through Junction Hollow and the Panther Hollow neighborhood.
That road would connect Oakland and its universities to Almono, a former steel mill site in Hazelwood, along the Monongahela River. A coalition of Pittsburgh foundations and nonprofits plan to redevelop Almono into a prime destination for new housing and office space.
According to preliminary plans, if the city builds this transit link, it will run along South Neville Street in Oakland, down from its intersection with Forbes Avenue at South Neville Street, and onto Boundary Street through Panther Hollow. It would continue onto a proposed road along the existing bike trail through Panther Hollow before reconnecting with Boundary Street as it enters Greenfield.
“Connecting the [Almono] site to the rest of the community is a priority,” Katie O’Malley, a spokesperson for Mayor William Peduto, wrote in an e-mail.
But Giampolo worries that Boundary Street becoming part of this corridor could destroy the tight-knit Panther Hollow community. Although he initially agreed to an interview, he later declined as he wanted to develop his campaign further before talking with The Pitt News. The Pitt News called him two more times and spoke to him at his home, but Giampolo still declined to comment.
However, Giampolo has publicized his concerns in blog entries on the Save Panther Hollow website.
The project’s announcement “created anxiety, fear and dread, especially for the elderly residents” of Panther Hollow, Giampolo wrote in a blog post on Sept. 24.
“We fully intend to triumph over this proposed roadway,” Giampolo wrote in the post, “and we will do so in a manner in which we uphold our ideals, principles, self-respect and dignity.”
Save Panther Hollow isn’t the first site on which Giampolo has expressed his views on issues within Oakland. On the Oakland Dignity site, he has published numerous essays and open letters about Pitt’s expansion into Oakland, which he considers destructive to the community of permanent residents, and about student-caused problems like noise and litter.
“For far too long, community organizations have allowed the University of Pittsburgh to dictate how residents of the community were able to live,” Giampolo wrote in a December 2013 post on Oakland Dignity.
Paul Supowitz, the vice chancellor for community and governmental relations at Pitt, said he’s familiar with Giampolo’s concerns.
Supowitz said litter is still a problem. Although he said community initiatives like Keep it Clean, Oakland! — a collaborative project with the Oakland Planning and Development Corporation in which students, residents and business owners adopt blocks and keep them litter-free — have improved the situation.
“I do not think we’re satisfied, especially on the litter front,” Supowitz said.
As for the other student-caused problems, Pat Corelli, Student Government Board’s governmental relations committee chair, said he doesn’t think Giampolo’s complaints pertain to most students living in the Oakland community.
“The vast majority of students living off campus are responsible,” Corelli said.
Still, Corelli said there’s not much of a relationship between students and Oakland’s permanent residents. According to Corelli, many students don’t bother getting to know residents, who, in turn, often consider students to be nuisances.
“I think a lot of students have come to the conclusion that we should have more of a sense of community,” Corelli said.
To help build that sense of community, Supowitz said, Pitt issues the Student Guide to Campus Life, a document meant to make students understand they’re not the only ones in South Oakland and that they have responsibilities as community members.
Supowitz also said recent Pitt “block parties” — where students and permanent residents meet — have gotten them to talk to each other and address problems as they appear.
According to Supowitz, he and Pitt try to respond to Oakland residents’ concerns. He said his office has monthly meetings with community groups like the Oakland Planning and Development Corporation, Peoples Oakland and the Oakland Business Improvement District. Although he can’t deny that Giampolo is passionate, Supowitz said Giampolo might have the wrong approach to some local problems. Giampolo doesn’t want to work with established community groups, preferring to act on his own, Supowitz said.
“He’s a person with his head in the right place, but he makes it difficult to work with him because of the way he goes about things,” Supowitz said.
Along with his outspoken activism, Giampolo’s deep history in Oakland make him a figurehead in the community.
The 68-year-old resident has lived in the area for his entire life. He attended Central Catholic High School and graduated from Duquesne University around 1970.
Family members say Giampolo is proud of his neighborhood, which sits relatively unseen at the bottom of Joncaire Street in South Oakland. Italian immigrants from the towns of Pizzoferrato and Gamberale settled into the neighborhood in the late 1800s. Most of those families, including Giampolo’s, still live in that area today.
Giampolo lives catty-corner to his extended family. He also lives across the street from a friend that he’s known for 40 years.
“Down here, it’s a handshake,” said George Casciato, Giampolo’s distant cousin. “In the rest of the world, you have to have contracts.”
A small patch of grass sits in the crook of Boundary Street, the main road through Panther Hollow. Picnic tables striped with red, white and green represent the neighborhood’s Italian pride. The community planted two trees in remembrance of Giampolo’s father, Carl Sr., and his uncle, Bob.
A small plaque under a white arbor in the parklet lists the surnames of the families who first settled in the area. “Giampolo” is sandwiched between a slew of other Italian names.
Anna Casciato, Giampolo’s aunt, said her nephew wears his Italian heritage “like a banner.”
Giampolo works to keep the community clean. He uses his own money to beautify the area, Anna Casciato said, cleaning up the hillside and planting flowers.
Pitt administrators have also noticed Giampolo’s dedication to keeping Panther Hollow clean. While discussing litter problems in Oakland, Supowitz singled out Boundary Street as a particularly “pristine” area.
George Casciato said his cousin fights for the people in the community. He works to inform his neighbors of what’s going on in Oakland and fights for the surrounding community to respect the native residents in Panther Hollow.
“This is our town,” George Casciato said. “He fought, and has been fighting that forever.”
Anna Casciato also testified to Giampolo’s work ethic.
“He wants to do it all the right way and he never gives up,” she said. “He’s someone who gets an idea and he sticks with it.”
Whether he’s fighting for his community or dancing across the country, family and friends say Giampolo always keeps moving.
“I don’t know if he has spare time,” George Casciato said.
And the city assures that it cares about the people living in the communities that the Almono project might affect, should it come to fruition.
The Urban Redevelopment Authority board of directors recently ratified an application to the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development for a $3 million grant to design the link, according to an Oct. 5 post on Save Panther Hollow.
Although the project is still in the planning stages, O’Malley said any plans for an Oakland-Almono transportation corridor would engage the community.
“Mayor Peduto and Chief of Staff Kevin Acklin care a great deal about the effects that projects have on a community,” O’Malley wrote in an email. “If and when the transportation corridor project comes to light, community stakeholders will be at the table and community feedback will be vital to the process.
This article appeared in the September edition of La Nostra Voce, the official national publication of the Italian Sons and Daughters of America. It was written and submitted for publication prior to any awareness of the proposed road corridor.
By Carlino Giampolo
Panther Hollow was one of Pittsburgh’s first Italian neighborhoods, a place where everyone knew your name or nickname. Early settlers from Pizzoferrato and Gamberale of the Abruzzi region in Central Italy arrived in the late 1800s. Their homes provided shelter not only for their families, but also Italian immigrant boarders who came to America. Nestled in a small valley below the University of Pittsburgh, there was no easy trek to a supermarket, but the neighborhood did have a cow pasture with chickens, vegetable gardens, outdoor bread oven, vineyards, grocery stores and food hucksters most every day.
Though basically a main street boundary with two tiny side streets, Panther Hollow had hundreds of residents, multiple banks, construction yards, coal yard, Italian social club, and an open field for families to pitch tents and celebrate weddings. Dozens of men enlisted or were drafted into World War II while the elderly men at home raised a Victory Garden to support the war effort. The women played as huge a role as the men in establishing the character and personality of the community. From the onset when women stayed home, caring for family and sometimes boarders to the later years of finding jobs outside the home, their gainful work provided for the welfare of their families and the camaraderie of the neighborhood.
In an open field there were trains hauling freight, including stones for the construction of the world’s second tallest university building, the Cathedral of Learning. The stones were then hauled from the neighborhood to the building site by horse-and-buggy and by trucks. The field was also the site for bocce, football, softball, it-taggers and roasting potatoes and marshmallows. Nearby Panther Hollow Lake provided extra recreational activities such as fishing, boating and ice skating. Forbes Field, a five-minute walk away provided more entertainment but also additional employment for residents.
The website www.PantherHollow.us captures on its many links the history of the neighborhood with information. A link lists 141 men’s nicknames and another with 225 women’s maiden names and the names of their spouses. The link PBS WQED showcases a neighborhood broadcast which was nominated for a Natas Mid-Atlantic Region Emmy. Another link is a two hour-narration by a long-time resident. A 2007 plaque reveals 95 Italian family names honoring those who settled in the neighborhood. More than 200 photos, dating from the early 1900s also portrays people and the area. The website will continue to grow because history, names and photos will be added. Panther Hollow is another reason why Pittsburgh has been and will continue to be a special place.