[HOME]

  1. Introduction
  2. Open Letter to the Board of Trustees
  3. University's Response to Open Letter
  4. Response to University
  5. YouTube Documentary
  6. Preuniversity Settlers
  7. Oakland Bill of Rights
  8. Declaration of Freedom
  9. Problems
  10. Solutions
  11. Actions
  12. UPMC
  13. PITT
    SempleFest
  14. Jul. '09
  15. Aug. '09
  16. Sept. '09
  17. Oct. '09
  18. Origin of SOUL
  19. WPXI - Group talks trash
  20. National Disgrace
  21. Gratitude
  22. Support Letters
  23. Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
  24. Pittsburgh City Paper
  25. Media - Broken Trust?
  26. Feb. '10
  27. Jun. '10
  28. Done Deal?
  29. Mayor's Reply
  30. Pitt Fireworks
  31. Pitt Fireworks
  32. Pitt Fireworks
  33. Aug. '10
  34. Sep. '10
  35. Letter to Legislators
  36. Letter to Chancellor
  37. Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
  38. A Call for Compassion
  39. WPXI Coverage
  40. Human Dignity
  41. Letter to the Editor
  42. SempleFest
  43. Request for Apology
  44. The Shame of a University
  45. Firebombs Must End
  46. Call To Action
  47. Fireworks Press Release
  48. Shadow on the Lawn
  49. Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Article
  50. Right-to-Know Law Testimony
  51. University Impact Aid Law
  52. Proposal University Impact Aid Law
  53. Nordenberg Must Resign
  54. Allegheny County Council Testimony
  55. Time for New Leadership Message
  56. Time for New Leadership Testimony
  57. Class-Action Lawsuit?
  58. Nordenberg Must Resign Paid Message
  59. Time for A New Beginning
  60. Letter to the Editor
  61. Letter to the Editor
  62. Pittsburgh City Council Testimony
  63. Pittsburgh Post-Gazette article
  64. A New Paradigm
  65. In Memoriam: Robert "Bob" Casciato
  66. Symbol of Domination
  67. Revised University Impact Aid Proposal
  68. Letter to Chancellor Gallagher
  69. Letter to Chancellor Gallagher
  70. Community Objectives
  71. Letter to Chancellor Gallagher
  72. City Planning Commission Testimonies
  73. Letter to Chancellor Patrick Gallagher
  74. Pittsburgh City Council Testimony
  75. Pittsburgh City Council Testimony
  76. Pittsburgh City Council Testimony
  77. End The Shame
  78. Pittsburgh City Council Testimony
  79. Letter to Chancellor Gallagher
  80. Letter to Chancellor Gallagher
  81. Decimation of an Urban Community
  82. Syndicate
  83. 18 Questions
  84. Dishonest Public Position
 

Enough Is Enough! Trashed street photo.

Preuniversity Settlers
A Call for Social Justice

October 1, 2011

The Panther Hollow neighborhood of Oakland first began to be settled in the late 1880s by Italian immigrants who were humble, honest, and hard-working peasants. They came mainly from two very small Italian towns, Gamberale and Pizzoferrato in the mountains just east of Rome.

These immigrants were labor class American citizens: steelworkers, construction workers, carpenters and brick layers – workers whose children went on to become attorneys, judges, community leaders, physicians, teachers and university professors.

My grandmother arrived in Panther Hollow in 1896 and my grandfather in 1900. My father has lived in Oakland for the entirety of his 95 years.

Two decades after the Italian immigrant settlement of Panther Hollow, the University of Pittsburgh, in June 1909, started its move in earnest from its North Side location to Oakland. Prior to the University of Pittsburgh’s arrival, numerous homes were built in Panther Hollow and the community was quickly moving toward becoming self-sustaining.

When the Cathedral of Learning was being constructed in 1926, many of Oakland’s immigrants contributed to its funding. They, as well as other early settlers of Oakland, welcomed the University as one would welcome a guest to his or her home. No one realized that in the next eight decades, the guest would attempt to become a master.

There are numerous defining moments in the history of the University’s presence in Oakland, but I will mention only a few. In the late 1950s, Chancellor Edward Litchfield stated that his administration was faced with two alternatives – to expand or not to expand. The choice was made to expand. Expansion in and of itself is not bad if it is guided by the principle that the means to an end is more important than the end itself. However, the next half century showed that the expansion was based mainly upon greed and avarice, leading to the detriment of the residential community. Since Chancellor Litchfield’s fateful decision, Pitt and UPMC have acquired approximately 100 buildings in Oakland, an astonishing fact. Meanwhile, the descendants of preuniversity settlers and long-time residents struggle to maintain their identity and existence.

Another defining moment came a decade later. As described in a March 16, 2000 article in the University Times: “In 1967, to expedite Pitt’s expansion, the General State Authority (GSA) stepped in and, invoking eminent domain, condemned all the buildings in the two-block area south of Forbes Avenue between Oakland Avenue and South Bouquet Street, and sent eviction notices to tenants and business owners there, many of whom were long-term occupants. The GSA also declared that only academic buildings could be developed in the two-block area, a position that became important later.”

Across the street from this eminent domain area was Forbes Field, which was built in 1909 and became a second job and second home for numerous Oakland men and women. Pitt purchased Forbes Field in 1958 for $2 million, and in 1971 demolished it for personal use.

An additional defining moment leading to the detriment of the Oakland community occurred when Pitt and UPMC took part in a bidding war for the purchase of the Syria Mosque, an entertainment venue that was beloved by the residents of Oakland and others throughout Pittsburgh. UPMC won the bidding and demolished the building in 1991. Today, that venue which was once a source of happiness and joy is now a parking lot available solely to UPMC leaseholders.

The most recent defining moment, and one that is very symbolic of the University’s lack of caring for a community, is the University’s use of Mazeroski Field that overlooks the community of Panther Hollow. In the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s it was a field of dreams for little league ballplayers in the neighborhood, some of whom aspired to one day play in the adjacent big league Forbes Field. But for the last two decades, for one day, it has become a field of danger and the playground for the University of Pittsburgh’s Homecoming Week fireworks display. The University has blatantly ignored the pleas to have this private party function moved to a venue outside of Oakland for the safety of residents and hospital patients.

Pitt’s administration has continuously ignored the concerns of residents of Oakland since Edward Litchfield’s fateful decision to pursue unending expansion in our community. Many of these concerns regard University related issues in our community. These include but are not limited to: student binge drinking, littering on public and private properties, noise and debris from fireworks, never ending expansion, lack of University transparency, weak faculty support for the community, and inadequate funding by the University to our residential community. The University’s deliberate neglect of the needs of our community has severely tarnished the reputation of a University that has grown to become one of the leading research institutions in the country.

I would like to focus on one specific issue. Oakland residents have complained for decades of the filthy environmental conditions brought on primarily by the ever-increasing number of students who do not care about our community. We have asked Pitt Chancellor Mark Nordenberg for funding of an environmental program known as SOUL (South Oakland Urban Litter) which would effectively put an end to this litter problem. Even though the cost amounts to only four dollars of a student’s tuition fee, his administration has refused our funding request, and we were told to start a Neighborhood Improvement District if we want to have a cleaner neighborhood.

The descendants of the preuniversity settlers of Panther Hollow share a kinship with other descendants of preuniversity settlers of Oakland. On behalf of descendants of all preuniversity settlers of Oakland who share our values and support the SOUL program, we speak as one voice when we say:

We claim and demand our right to live in a clean and healthy environment based on the virtue of that right and the authority that is inherent within us. We speak with integrity and empowerment, and not entitlement, when we demand justice to right the wrong that has been imposed upon us by the University’s presence in our community. We will not allow outsiders in the University to dictate our future and to impose their will upon us. We claim and demand funding for the SOUL program.

Also, we are once again letting Pitt administrators know that they will never take away our dignity, diminish our intensity, shackle our freedom, or break our spirit. And they will never silence the voices of the descendants of the preuniversity settlers and their supporters who seek social justice.

Carlino Giampolo

Addendum - When the General State Authority invoked eminent domain on South Bouquet Street, there were approximately 210 long-time residents and a dozen students living there. Today, there are two long-time residents and over 700 students on that street.

(Note: Our grassroots movement began in March 2007. Throughout the website, reference is made to long-time residents of the Oakland community. The descendants of preuniversity settlers who still reside in Oakland are implicitly included where those references are made.)

[HOME]

  1. Introduction
  2. Open Letter to the Board of Trustees
  3. University's Response to Open Letter
  4. Response to University
  5. YouTube Documentary
  6. Preuniversity Settlers
  7. Oakland Bill of Rights
  8. Declaration of Freedom
  9. Problems
  10. Solutions
  11. Actions
  12. UPMC
  13. PITT
    SempleFest
  14. Jul. '09
  15. Aug. '09
  16. Sept. '09
  17. Oct. '09
  18. Origin of SOUL
  19. WPXI - Group talks trash
  20. National Disgrace
  21. Gratitude
  22. Support Letters
  23. Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
  24. Pittsburgh City Paper
  25. Media - Broken Trust?
  26. Feb. '10
  27. Jun. '10
  28. Done Deal?
  29. Mayor's Reply
  30. Pitt Fireworks
  31. Pitt Fireworks
  32. Pitt Fireworks
  33. Aug. '10
  34. Sep. '10
  35. Letter to Legislators
  36. Letter to Chancellor
  37. Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
  38. A Call for Compassion
  39. WPXI Coverage
  40. Human Dignity
  41. Letter to the Editor
  42. SempleFest
  43. Request for Apology
  44. The Shame of a University
  45. Firebombs Must End
  46. Call To Action
  47. Fireworks Press Release
  48. Shadow on the Lawn
  49. Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Article
  50. Right-to-Know Law Testimony
  51. University Impact Aid Law
  52. Proposal University Impact Aid Law
  53. Nordenberg Must Resign
  54. Allegheny County Council Testimony
  55. Time for New Leadership Message
  56. Time for New Leadership Testimony
  57. Class-Action Lawsuit?
  58. Nordenberg Must Resign Paid Message
  59. Time for A New Beginning
  60. Letter to the Editor
  61. Letter to the Editor
  62. Pittsburgh City Council Testimony
  63. Pittsburgh Post-Gazette article
  64. A New Paradigm
  65. In Memoriam: Robert "Bob" Casciato
  66. Symbol of Domination
  67. Revised University Impact Aid Proposal
  68. Letter to Chancellor Gallagher
  69. Letter to Chancellor Gallagher
  70. Community Objectives
  71. Letter to Chancellor Gallagher
  72. City Planning Commission Testimonies
  73. Letter to Chancellor Patrick Gallagher
  74. Pittsburgh City Council Testimony
  75. Pittsburgh City Council Testimony
  76. Pittsburgh City Council Testimony
  77. End The Shame
  78. Pittsburgh City Council Testimony
  79. Letter to Chancellor Gallagher
  80. Letter to Chancellor Gallagher
  81. Decimation of an Urban Community
  82. Syndicate
  83. 18 Questions
  84. Dishonest Public Position
 

OaklandDignity.com
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