Allegheny City Gallery saves memories of old North Shore
April 10, 2016 12:00 AM
Rudy Ujhazy, 83, looks over a display of photographs from “the Ward” with his sister, Maggie Ushazy McDonough, 82, at the first reunion of the Hope Harveys Football Club on Saturday at the Allegheny City Historic Gallery on East Ohio Street. The Hope Harveys began in what was then known as Pittsburgh’s First Ward and commonly known as “the Ward,” which encompassed what is now called the North Shore.
Steelers chairman Dan Rooney and his wife Patricia look over an old Hope Harveys’ team photograph at the reunion of the Hope Harveys Football Club.
Bill Gandy, right, founder of the Allegheny City Historic Gallery on the North Side with his family, from left, son, Willy James, 21, wife Kim and daughter Sydnie, 15, in the lobby of the gallery during the reunion.
Rudy Ujhazy, 83, who grew up in what was once "the Ward," gets a closer look of a display of photographs at the Allegheny City Historic Gallery.
By Daniel Moore / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Rudy Ujhazy calls his father, Joseph, the “North Shore’s last survivor.”
Just before the Great Depression hit, Joseph Ujhazy founded a meat and grocery business in Allegheny City that outlasted the hard times and thrived for four decades. Then came Three Rivers Stadium and Interstate 279.
“The stadium construction and highway construction forced him out” in 1969, Mr. Ujhazy recalled. “His was the last parcel that was purchased by the (Urban) Redevelopment Authority.”
Mr. Ujhazy, an 82-year-old resident of Leet who said he’s working on a book about his father, was one of dozens to cram into the Allegheny City Historic Gallery on Saturday to swap stories and catch up.
The gallery, which opened last year with a mission to preserve the history of Pittsburgh’s North Side through a collection of photographs, held a reunion for former residents who remember life before the city’s development swept into “the Ward,” an affectionate colloquial name for Allegheny City.
“The Ward is what you see here; it’s a group of people,” Mr. Ujhazy said. “It was a place to live, but the people always stayed together” after the transformation.
The reunion featured photographs of the Hope Harveys Football Club, which played the first professional football in Pittsburgh in the 1920s under the direction of the late Art Rooney and is considered the unofficial beginnings of the Steelers. Pittsburgh Steelers chairman Dan Rooney stopped by to look at some of the photos.
Mr. Rooney, a former U.S. ambassador to Ireland for the Obama administration, declined to talk much about the Steelers or politics. Also an author of Allegheny City’s history, Mr. Rooney said he was glad his favorite photograph, taken of him and his family, was part of the display.
“It’s nice that they’re doing this, bringing people down here,” Mr. Rooney said. “It’s wonderful to come see the pictures, but also the people here. As you can see, it’s very crowded.”
The walls and tables of the gallery, a narrow section of real estate along East Ohio Street, were covered with black-and-white photographs capturing the construction of roads, bridges, inclines and stadiums on the North Side, as well as sketches of new neighborhoods from city planners. The history drew complicated feelings from the attendees, who largely have scattered among suburban neighborhoods.
By 1957, “they were starting to buy everything up, my mother’s house, everything, then they starting tearing everything down,” said Josie McClelland, a 76-year-old resident of Fineview, where she moved about 50 years ago. “Everybody that lived in the Ward would say, ‘If we could go back, we’d all move back,”’ she said. “That’s wonderful, that place was.”
The gallery regularly holds special events to promote discussion about the North Side, including a book signing earlier this month with author James Broadbent, who wrote about how the government acquires land for development in his book “Right-Of-Way Man: Clearing the Path for our Nations Highways.” It also sells books, gifts and authorized prints.
Bill Gandy, owner of the gallery, said he is looking to expand to a larger space soon as collectors share more photos with him.
Daniel Moore: email@example.com, 412-263-2743 and Twitter @PGdanielmoore.
Correction: April 10, 2016: In an earlier version, Dan Rooney's wife was misidentified in a photo. Her name is Patricia.
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