Above: The tile map was installed on the Rita’s building this week.
by Kelsey Shea
East Ohio Street packs a lot of history in a few blocks that most Northsiders don’t even know.
The first Clark Bar was made at the Corner of East Ohio and Middle streets, it borders the oldest park west of the Allegheny River and Avery College founder Charles Avery grew up a block off the street.
Together, the Deutschtown Merchants Association and the Northside Leadership Conference are working to celebrate that history with the Deutschtown Heritage Project, which will install signs, maps and plaques that will create a casual walking history tour in the business district.
“You don’t have to go far to find some fantastic history here,” said Barbara Burns of the DMA.
Local artist Anders Anderson of Red Clay Tile Works in East Liberty installed the first major part of the Deutschtown Heritage Project this week.
An 8” x 7” tile map that features 24 landmarks throughout Historic Deutschtown was installed on the side of the Rita’s Italian Ice building at the corner of East Ohio Street and Cedar Avenue.
“The past surrounds us here in Historic Deutschtown and throughout the Northside,” said Ed Graf, Deutschtown Merchants Association and building owner. “We have numerous iconic buildings that hold historical significance and although this map is in no way inclusive of them all, it is a tribute to beautiful architecture and the rich cultural past of our neighborhood.”
The DMA and the NLSC hope that the heritage project will help instill a sense of pride in Deutschtown neighbors, even if they aren’t of German Heritage.
“We have lost some of the pride that we should have in this neighborhood,” said Burns. “A community that has a sense of its history is empowered to do things today to ensure its future.”
Burns hopes that the incorporation of the neighborhood’s history into the business district will bring new patrons to local businesses in the neighborhood.
“To me, the greatest compliment that someone can give is ‘Hey did you see what they did on East Ohio Street?,’” said Burns.
The next phase of the project includes the installation of plaques on buildings with information about their history and German shields known as wappens that will hang from the streetlights on East Ohio Street.
Brochures and a Deutschtown Heritage Project website will also be created to complement the building signs.
The map was funded by Rivers Casino, the Northside Leadership Conference and City Council President Darlene Harris’ office.
The second phase of the project will be funded in part by a matching grant from the state.