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Garfield History

  • community festivals

    In 1995 Penn Ave from Mathilda to Negley was 70% vacant storefronts. Penn Ave included community festivals with art components and art galleries such as Garfield Artworks which opened in 1992. “The Bride on Penn Ave”, a mural by the late Judy Penzer, was commissioned in 1995 by the Bloomfield-Garfield Corporation (BGC) and completed in 1996. In 1997, The Spinning Plate lofts commissioned a study that indicated that individuals working in the arts made up a large portion of community members in the surrounding areas and were in need of spaces to live and work.

    The Penn Avenue Arts Initiative was created in 1998 as a joint strategy of BGC & Friendship Development Associates to support artists in the renovation of blighted, formerly vacant buildings. This initiative was part of a larger community development strategy that weaves together neighborhoods and facilitates residential, commercial, and cultural projects.


  • community festivals

    Glass Center, Clay Penn, and others open in a second wave of art businesses. New public art is created that exists today. This includes “Tuesday’s Heroic Paragon” (2003), by Kevinn Fung at 4809 Penn Avenue, celebrates the life of Garfield resident Sidney Barlow. As well as “The Gateway”, two large mirror-image stainless steel sculptures mounted on the outside walls of two buildings on either side of Penn Avenue (5149 and 5150) symbolize a bridge between Friendship, Bloomfield, and Garfield by artists Michael Walsh and Jeremy Groznik.


  • Angel of Garfield

    In 2006, Penn Avenue was designated a Main Streets Pittsburgh district. A new wave of art businesses opened including Most Wanted Fine Art and Irma Freeman Center for Imagination. Daviea Davis, Jessica Rutherford, and first-time teenage offenders from Garfield’s Community Intensive Supervision Program (CISP) created a glass mosaic entitled, “Angel of Garfield.” This piece currently resides on the side of Aldi facing Penn Ave.


  • Boom

    The City of Pittsburgh and PennDOT reconstructed Penn Ave from Mathilda to Evaline, creating a new streetscape. Stakeholders worked together to complete a 5-year Master Plan for Penn Ave Business District. After 25 years without a local grocer, The Bottom Dollar store in Garfield opened in June 2014. Garfield Night Market started in 2013 and continues through today. New spaces continued to open including Assemble in 2011, Boom Concepts in 2014.


  • Penn Avenue Garfield

    Aldi decides to buy and open a store at the Bottom Dollar location. In early 2016, development partners ACTION-Housing, Inc. and the Bloomfield Garfield Corporation (BGC) opened the Penn Mathilda Apartments, a new 21,200 square-foot residential and commercial development on Penn Avenue. The three-story building offers four commercial spaces (filled with arts organizations Silver Eye Center for Photography, Assemble, and Level Up Studios) on the ground floor. With half the apartments given veteran preference. A slew of other businesses opened creating a vibrant place to shop, eat and drink, and experience the arts. Boom Concepts is given their own day in the City.


  • Penn Avenue Houses

    Each month, join us for Unblurred: First Fridays on Penn, a monthly art event where various spaces open their doors and showcase artwork and performances across a range of mediums. Guests will experience new art and meet an eclectic array of art makers, old and young, famous and amateur, all within walking distance of each other. The evening brings people of all backgrounds together to socialize and enjoy the entertainment around them. What started as an attempt to revitalize Penn Avenue between Negley and Mathilda has transformed into one of the city’s hottest cultural events.