by Kelsey Shea
Even when Steelers’ chairman Dan Rooney was working in Ireland as a U.S. ambassador, his thoughts and efforts were still in the Northside.
Together with local historian Carol Peterson, Rooney co-authored the book “Allegheny City: A History of Pittsburgh’s North Side,” which was published on May 1 by the University of Pittsburgh press.
“My hope is that we can generate some interest in the neighborhood and attract money and talent to start bringing the Northside back,” said Rooney about the book.
“Allegheny City” documents the vast history of the Northside from American Indian history in the area and George Washington’s time here to the construction of the stadiums, Carnegie Science Center and the National Aviary in the ’90s.
“The book is based on Mr. Rooney’s knowledge and recollections and my 20 years of experience as a historian,” said Peterson. “It’s got to be one of the most comprehensive books about Northside History.”
The book touches on Allegheny City’s early development, the effects of the industrial revolution, Allegheny City’s annexation, the ill-conceived mid-century development and the growth of the North Shore as a tourist destination.
Peterson and Rooney first collaborated when Peterson was asked to do a house history for the Rooney’s home in Allegheny West.
Rooney again contacted Peterson about collaborating on the book project, which the two began in 2007, but progressed slowly due to Peterson’s health issues and Rooney’s four-year relocation to Ireland.
But six years later, both authors are pleased with the final product and hope that it will appeal to a wide audience of readers interested in history, the region and of course the Rooney family itself.
“It’s doing well in its little niche market,” said Peterson. “It’s got a reasonably diverse audience.”
The book’s afterword ends on a positive note and looks forward to the Northside’s future and examines the neighborhood’s current attributes like strong neighborhood organizations and Allegheny General Hospital.
“The Northside’s coming back,” said Rooney, who hopes to see more importance placed on Allegheny Commons Park in the future.
Rooney and Peterson will be the guest speakers at the Allegheny Commons Park community update on May 22 in Babb Inc.’s ballroom at 850 Ridge Ave.