Established in 1972, the Squirrel Hill Urban Coalition gives voice to the hopes and concerns of our residents, institutions, businesses and visitors and works to preserve, improve, and celebrate the quality of life in our vibrant urban Squirrel Hill neighborhood. Our mission is implemented through a long range planning process, fostering community-based initiatives in the areas of education, public safety, transportation, parks and open spaces, plus commercial, institutional and residential development. Volunteer-supported committees provide leadership to our community by studying, debating, and advocating positions on issues affecting our neighborhood’s vitality.
Milestones & History
Key milestones in the history of SHUC cover a range of issues, including but not limited to education, public safety, business district improvements, land use, parks and recreation, and long range planning. A timeline of some of these milestones is set forth below.
1972 – 1979
- Organized and implemented cooperative efforts between the City and the Forbes Avenue businesses between Murray and Shady to replace the water and sewer infrastructure, repave Forbes, and widen and repave the sidewalks.
1980 – 1989
- Opposed the construction of a ten story high rise on Northumberland Street across from the Schenley Park Golf Course, which led to the present townhouse development.
- Organized the opposition to the City’s plan to lease the Schenley Golf Course to a nine-hole commercial venture that proposed fencing, a lighted driving range, and liquor license. This opposition effort ultimately facilitated the restoration and the management of the Golf Course to Carnegie Mellon University (CMU).
- Developed a Cooperation Agreement between SHUC and CMU for an aesthetic and neighborhood friendly parking garage at Forbes and Beeler Avenues, as well as provided for community review and input into other building projects on its campus.
- Acquired the Wightman Elementary School for use as a Community center for multiple community based activities and programs. Subsequently sold the building to the Carriage House Children’s’ Center, who rehabilitated the building.
- Successfully opposed the Pittsburgh School District’s plan to stop busing students to Colfax Elementary School from the western part of Squirrel Hill
1990 – 1995
- Initiated a long-range planning process, which resulted in the publication of a long-range planning and development proposal for the City of Pittsburgh’s 14th Ward.
- Introduced the concept of the extension of Frick Park to the Monongahela River and the residential development of the Nine Mile Run slag dump, which was part of the long- range plan, to then, City Councilman, Bob O’Connor. O’Connor brought this development concept to the attention of Mayor Tom Murphy who implemented the Summerset Development at Frick Park and Parkland Nature Preserve along Nine Mile Run.
- Successfully opposed the Pittsburgh School District plan to eliminate the Scholars Program at Taylor Allderdice High School.
- Working with the City, developed and implemented a pedestrian safety traffic light and crosswalk along Forbes Avenue in the business district, as well as a crossing system at the Forbes and Murray, and Forbes and Shady corners.
- Developed and implemented the Squirrel Hill Citizens Patrol, a neighborhood crime prevention program, with the City Police Department.
- Represented the community views and concerns in order to retain the Giant Eagle grocery store on Murray Avenue in Squirrel Hill, which led to a store renovation.
- Represented the community concerns and interests regarding building proposals by the Jewish Community Center (JCC), the Jewish Education Institute (JEI) and the Jewish Agency on Aging (JAA) which resulted in a reconfiguration of the originally proposed expansions. The final plan resulted in the Darlington Avenue JCC building, Weinberg Terrace, an assisted living facility on Bartlett Street, the renovation of the former St. Philomena School into the Community Day School, and new and renovated facilities on Browns Hill Road, at the Charles Morris Nursing facility.
1996 – 2007
- Organized the opposition to the original development plan for the Summerset Development at Frick Park, resulting in a less dense and more aesthetic residential community.
- Lobbied against changes in Title I funds allocation that would have distributed funds based on the socioeconomic level of the neighborhood in which a school was located, and not on the actual population of the school. Minadeo, Colfax, Linden and Reizenstein would have been deprived of any such funding based on that funding formula.
- Supported the creation of the Colfax Spanish Academy and expansion to K-8.
- Successfully worked to reduce the density of the Beechwood Commons development project.
- Organized and supported the CAN IT program, which contributed to a cleaner business district.
- Helped to orchestrate the design and implementation of the mural located in the Starbucks parking lot on lower Murray Avenue.
- 2005: Instrumental in reinstating the Bach, Beethoven and Brunch Sunday morning concerts in Mellon Park.
- Organized and supported the Squirrel Hill Litter Patrol, a grassroots effort by community residents to eradicate litter from the business district and residential streets.
- Instrumental in creating the Squirrel Hill Skate Park on Hobart Street
2008 – Present
- SHUC began securing funding for improvements to the Gateway and Business Corridor via a Design Center grant that allowed us to bring on an architect and landscape architect to seek feedback from the community.
- 2008: Received the $20,000 Grant from the Design Center to form the SHUC Gateway Committee and hold a series of community meetings “to produce a comprehensive design that creates a welcoming and engaging entrance corridor for visitors and residents coming from the Parkway into Squirrel Hill”. The resulting sketchbook laid out plans for streetlights on Murray Avenue, a welcome sign at the Parkway entrance, adopting the Forgotten Garden, creating a respite plaza at Phillips and Murray, and business corridor improvements including the planting of new trees.
- 2009: New trees planted on Forbes Avenue.
- 2010: Adopted the Forgotten Garden at Parkway entrance.
- 2010, 2012, and 2013: New streetlights put in on Murray Avenue from Forward to Forbes.
- 2012: Received a $15,000 grant to provide a construction drawing with improvements at 4 nodes as identified by community: build a welcome sign, construct a respite corner at Phillips and Murray, build out a respite area at Beacon and Murray, renovate the Post Office parklet at Darlington and Murray.
- 2013: Clock dedicated at O’Connor’s Corner. Received a $3,600 Duquesne Light grant for light fixtures at the Post Office Parklet. Received a $15,000 URA grant for a new welcome sign for Squirrel Hill. New murals on buildings on Nicholson and Beacon Streets at Murray Avenue.
- 2014: Received a $1,800 grant from the Grable Foundation for mosaic artist supplies.
- 2015: The post office parklet was renovated by a construction crew provided by Public Works.
- 2016: Ten Squirrel Hill bike racks were donated by a neighborhood businessman.
- 2017: Received a $150,000 CITF grant from Allegheny County and a $25,000 grant from Colcom Foundation for O’Connor’s Corner project.
- 2018: Received a $75,000 Greenways, Trails and Recreation Program (GTRP) grant from the state for O’Connor’s Corner. The plaza at Murray and Beacon was completed by a private developer.
- 2019: Received a $25,000 grant from the Jack Buncher Foundation for O’Connor’s Corner.
- 2021: Received a $1,500 Love Your Block grant for streetscape improvements at Murdoch and Kamin Streets. Put in respite benches on Forbes and Murray Avenues.
- 2021: Dedication and ribbon cutting of O’Connor’s Corner.
- 2022: O’Connor’s Corner completed with Tree Pit grates and a repainted clock.
For fifty years, the Coalition has been an active and important link in the community. It has served as a sounding board for new ideas, as well as a “watchdog” in the areas of public safety, education, residential quality, the business district, and parks and open space. With its focus on the quality of life in the 14th Ward, SHUC continues to monitor activities and future developments in the community through a range of standing committees.
If you would like to become a member, volunteer for committee work, join us for special events, or contact us for any other reason, we welcome you to do so! We will be in touch!