History of Summer Hill
By Bridget Fertal
On the fringe of Pittsburgh’s Northside, rural-like homes and small estates form the neighborhood of Summer Hill. The area was once part of its borderlands, Ross and Reserve Townships, but was included into Pittsburgh’s Northside on October 31, 1922.
This neighborhood contains the Ivory Avenue district and the Harpen Hilltop development area, but these two places were not always adjoined under the term “Summer Hill,” which was coined in the 1970s.
“In the early 1960s, when I worked as a mailman, I delivered mail to all of the sections that are now called ‘Summer Hill,’” John Canning, a local historian, said. “In those years, there was a noticeable burst of homes built after World War II on streets that were constructed off the Ivory Avenue/ Mt. Troy Road/ East Street as well as a whole new section of homes on the hills on the east side of East Street. This was before I-279 was built.”
Pittsburgh’s Urban Redevelopment Authority and the Pittsburgh City Council launched the construction of “Harpen Hilltop,” a 51-acre area on which 373 homes and a 272-unit high-rise for retirees was built in response to the building of I-279, which caused many homes in East Street Valley to be demolished.
In 1977, The City of Pittsburgh Department of Urban Planning’s amassed the areas of Harpen Hilltop and the Ivory Avenue district in its “Neighborhood Profiles,” marking the distinction of Summer Hill for the first time.
Since 2000, Summer Hill’s population has remained around 1,000 people. Summer Hill is home to the SHCC, which embodies the community and organizes events.
“The Summer Hill Citizens Committee (SHCC) is the official neighborhood group representing citizens of Pittsburgh’s upper North Side neighborhood of Summer Hill,” the SHCC Facebook page reads. “The SHCC meets on the 3rd Tuesday of every month, with exception to May, July and August, at 6:30 p.m. in the community room of our neighborhood partner, WPXI. All residents and those having business with the group are welcome.”