As with most Pittsburgh neighborhoods, we think of East Liberty as a distinct place with finite boundaries. But the East Liberty Valley is something broader and more amorphous, an undulating plain between the hills of Stanton Heights and Highland Park that encompasses not only East Liberty but also Morningside and the Highland Park neighborhood, as well as parts of Shadyside, Bloomfield and Friendship.
The valley's history is being championed by the East End/East Liberty Historical Society and the East Liberty Quarter Chamber of Commerce, both in a book published last year and a new effort to use history to attract visitors to the community.
"We want to host a major event in East Liberty in 2010 to commemorate the whole valley," said Paul Brecht, director of the chamber.
Two years ago, the historical society and the chamber teamed to produce a tour of historical points of interest in the valley. The 2010 initiative -- the date has no special significance -- also will include a tour, but the two groups are soliciting other ideas for ways to recognize and celebrate the neighborhood.
Tomorrow from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., the public is invited to bring suggestions to a wine-and-cheese gathering at 200 N. Highland Ave. Guests also will be able to view rare books and historic photographs and postcards related to the community.
"Pittsburgh's East Liberty Valley," an Arcadia Publishing book written by historical society members, documents the community from the days of earliest settlement.
Some of the first land patents had names that still echo on the landscape, such as Heth's Delight and Lemmington. Jacob Negley laid out the village of East Liberty in 1817, with the intersection of Penn and Frankstown avenues at its heart.
The book also documents many historic homes and streets, businesses and bridges, churches and schools; some of the notable men and women raised there and the massive demolition of urban renewal and creation of the pedestrian mall. It ends on a bright note, with Mayor Richard Caliguiri driving a horse-drawn wagon to celebrate the reopening of Penn Avenue to traffic in 1986. Too bad he never lived to see the demise of the high-rise that straddled Penn, a building he once said he'd like to drive a bulldozer through.
Brecht said the first printing of "Pittsburgh's East Liberty Valley" -- 4,000 copies -- sold out in less than a month; it's good news that it's again widely available.