Editorial: Historical landmarks in the Strip District must be preserved

By The Pitt News Editorial Board

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The Strip District, Pittsburgh’s historic shipping and import region, could potentially lose part of its rich legacy because of a comprehensive renovation initiative.

Buncher Co. proposed plans to alter the Pennsylvania Fruit Auction and Sales Building, a 1,533-foot produce terminal in the Strip District, in an effort to clear one-third of the structure to make a path to the Allegheny River. The company argued that they would rehabilitate the aging terminal during the process. The renovation is part of a $450 million Riverfront Landing residential and office project.

However, Pittsburgh’s historic review commission and the planning commission both voted in favor of giving the building historic designation in a move to preserve the produce terminal because of its significance to the culture of the Strip District.

Both commissions noted valid reasons to designate the structure a historical landmark, as it adds to the rich culture the Strip District has fostered for decades.

As of yesterday, City Council has been introduced to a resolution to officially recognize the terminal as a historic landmark. City Council must enact the resolution and preserve one of the Strip District’s seminal structures, impacting the social aspect of the overall area.

“This is an iconic image of what Pittsburgh is and what it was and continues to play a role and significance in our architectural makeup in this city,” said Ernie Hogan, the city historic commission’s acting chairman.

By eliminating one-third of the structure to pave a path to the Allegheny River, Buncher would demolish an integral structure that identifies the Strip District. The five-block-long structure represents a distinct style and design that is unique to the area of Pittsburgh. It is associated with important cultural and social aspects in the city’s history, including landmarks like the 16th St. Bridge, the Market at Fifth and Forbes Field Wall, and exemplifies a pattern of neighborhood development and settlement crucial to the Strip District’s foundational qualities.

“It speaks to a unique, rich, historic piece of Pittsburgh, which is our wholesale produce district,” noted Sarah Kroloff, who nominated the terminal for historic status. “I would be concerned about tearing away the very pieces of what made this area … [what] it is today.”

The building’s significance in the Strip District is monumental. It must be considered a historical landmark to preserve the cultural richness of the Strip District and, therefore, of the city of Pittsburgh.

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