Statement before Glenn
City Planning Commission: P.O. Box 1041
Nomination of Five Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15230-1041 U.S.A.
for City Telephone:
Historic Electronic Mail: < firstname.lastname@example.org >
Web Site: < http://www.andrewcarnegie.cc >
Good afternoon. I am Glenn A.
Walsh of 633
Mt. Lebanon. Today, I am representing no formal organization.
First, I want to commend the
Pittsburgh History and Landmarks Foundation for nominating the Hazelwood, Homewood, Lawrenceville, Mt. Washington, and West End Branches, of The Carnegie Library of
Pittsburgh, to the status of City Designated Historic Structure. With the
successful completion of this designation process, all original, Andrew
Carnegie-built library buildings, which have been used as libraries in Pittsburgh this month, will be protected by the Pittsburgh
Historic Review Law.
This is important, because it
is the system of neighborhood library
branches throughout the City, originally envisioned by Andrew Carnegie,
which is of major historical significance. Andrew Carnegie, through his very
generous library funding, popularized the neighborhood branch library system,
not just for Pittsburgh, but for the world. And, it all began right here in Pittsburgh!
In his letter to the Mayor
and City Councils on February 6, 1890, Andrew Carnegie offered these library buildings to
the City and said, “All of these should
be thoroughly fireproof, monumental in character and creditable to the city.” Andrew
Carnegie provided these wonderful buildings to be monuments of literacy and
learning for each of these neighborhoods, each to be recognized by the people
as a special place where a person can improve their lot in life.
Indeed, the branches in
Hazelwood, Homewood, and Lawrenceville were constructed with large
auditoriums. And, the Hazelwood Branch was even given a beautiful stained-glass
dome, above the original mahogany circulation desk! Andrew Carnegie made sure
that each of these libraries, purposely built as detached structures, was not perceived
by the public as just another establishment in a retail district.
Unlike other cities, such as New York and Baltimore which each had four or five neighborhood library
branches, Andrew Carnegie proposed a neighborhood branch library plan which
would effectively serve the entire City of Pittsburgh! In the 1890 letter, he also said, “Such branches, I think, should be
established in the various districts of the city, probably one in Birmingham, another in
Temperanceville, another in East Liberty, a fourth in
Lawrenceville, perhaps a fifth in the older part of the city.” However, once planning for neighborhood branch
libraries had begun, additional library sites were quickly secured in
Hazelwood, Homewood, and Mt. Washington. In fact, the Hazelwood and Mt. Washington branches were among the first built, both opening in
Most of these libraries have
been focal points for their respective neighborhoods for more than a century,
with the Homewood Library building being a focal point for the Homewood-Brushton
community for more than 93 years! These buildings, each a gift to each
neighborhood from local steelmaker and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie, are a
matter of neighborhood pride. And they are among the most distinguished
buildings in each community; they are truly icons of the neighborhood.
neighborhoods, such as Hazelwood, Homewood, Lawrenceville, Mt. Washington, and the West End, encounter
many challenges to their financial viability and livability. Monumental
buildings, such as the five libraries nominated for historic designation, serve
as part of the foundation of each neighborhood, helping to counter the social
forces which lead to neighborhood disintegration and deterioration. Indeed, as
centers of culture, these libraries have assisted in bringing neighborhood
Providing protection, by
designation as a City Designated Historic Structure through the Historic Review
ordinance, of these very valuable neighborhood assets, the City of Pittsburgh would be affirming that these monumental buildings
should continue their leading role in neighborhood revitalization. This would
certainly meet the goals, of the City Planning Commission, to promote established
planning, development, and land use objectives for the City of Pittsburgh.
Hence, the designation of these five libraries as City Designated
Historic Structures deserves your positive and enthusiastic recommendation to
Pittsburgh City Council.