It is often said that to find your way around Pittsburgh, you need to be able to navigate by landmarks that are no longer there. To get to your destination, you may have to “turn right at the old bakery” or other extinct landmark. Though maddening to newcomers, these phantom places may remain in the collective memory for years and can be meaningful connections to a community’s past.
What happens when no one remembers a major ecological landmark, like say, a stream? Negley Run, like most of the streams in the City of Pittsburgh, is invisible to us today. The stream once connected Squirrel Hill to the Allegheny River, but today there is no collective memory of the stream and very few clues in our urban fabric. Change was unavoidable in Negley Run –located on a relatively flat area east of the city, the East End was farmed and later urbanized. The incoming waves of residents considered the water as a resource or a nuisance that had to be controlled and, beginning in the early 1800’s, the stream was systematically rerouted, straightened, channeled, and covered.
Negley Run Was Here is an effort to discover the traces of Negley Run and to understand how it shaped our community in the past and to speculate on what it could mean today. Negley Run Was Here is a project of Living Waters Of Larimer.
Our team leads group tours along the two branches of Negley Run’s historic path, which border Larimer on its eastern and western edges. The tour maps are available for download so that you can explore the landmarks through a self-guided tour at your leisure. Below are download links for the two maps for the Larimer Branch (western edge) and Silver Lake (eastern edge).