Friday, December 5, 2008

Pittsburgh Signs Project - Book Release!

We've got some swell signs all up and down Liberty Ave., from Armand's grand claim to having the "Best Fish Sandwich" to Donatelli's fancy cursive font, to the red, green, and white parking meter posts lining both sides of the street, and of course, the memories of the old "Welcome to Bloomfield" sign formerly on the side of the BBT.

The Pittsburgh Signs Project has been collecting photographs of all of the wonderful, colorful, and historic signs of the area for over five years. Whether they're for motels, mechanics, diners, or dry cleaners, if the sign had some sort of appeal or meaningfulness, whether aesthetic or historic, they'd find their way on the website. Naturally, some of our neighborhood's - including the Bloomfield Sandwich Shop's cheery red and white lettering - have been featured. Now, they're about to release a book collecting some of the best - Pittsburgh Signs Project: 250 Signs of Western Pennsylvania.

This Saturday, the book will be featured at the History Center Holiday Book Fair:
Meet local authors & shop for unique holiday gifts!
Saturday, December 6, 11 a.m. – 2 p.m.
Senator John Heinz History Center
212 Smallman Street, Strip District
Pgh, PA 15222
(412) 454-6411

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

BBT benefit show tonight

As you may have heard, the Bloomfield Bridge Tavern, a local favorite watering hole, music venue, and Polish restaurant, caught on fire earlier this month. Luckily, the fire was mostly contained to the second floor and nobody was hurt, but business has temporarily shut down in order to repair the damages. Until then, their employees are out of work.

Tonight, Howler's Coyote Cafe will host a benefit concert and costume party directly following the Halloween Parade, (around) 8:30 21+ $3-5
Performances by:

Read more here.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Pittsburgh Neighborhood Narratives

Part of the Pittsburgh 250 celebration - Neighborhood Narratives is a series of films about local neighborhoods.

Read more here.
the Bloomfield film will be screened Sunday, Sept. 28, 8 p.m. - Brillobox

Little Italy Days this weekend

Sept 26-28 - Bloomfield Little Italy Days!

Come play some bocce, eat some canoli, and do the Peroni beer bar crawl this weekend!

shedule of events here.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Big Idea Big Sale

The Big Idea Info Shop (504 Millvale Avenue) has some exciting things happening. Taken directly from their newsletter:

Back to School Sale:
August 15th through 30th, any student ID will get you 50% off of all used books and 10% off all new books. Don't have a student ID? We'll give you the discount if you bring
us an apple! We'll make pie. It will be great. We make a damn fine apple pie.
(Disclaimer: a big bag of apples will not result in a bigger discount, but it
will make more pies.)

Finish a zine this summer in time for the party! Saturday, August 30, 2008.
Questions? Email Artnoose at for details and location.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

this is happening

I posted about the hayride a little earlier - but the two year anniversary of the Sunday Night Hayride is this Sunday:

Thursday, July 31, 2008

More info about the new BBT mural:

There's an article in this week's City Paper about the new BBT muralright here

Purple Drain, Purple Drain

This is tonight, and it looks like a good time

Thursday, July 24, 2008

i guess i have about 12 minutes of fame left.

I'm proud to say that this very blog (and this very blogger) was mentioned in an article about the Banana Stand in this week's Pitt News!

Cynthia Yogmas, a library and information sciences student at Pitt, who runs, said the addition of the Banana Stand is much needed.

"I think it complements the Grasso Roberto cafe, another neighborhood business nearby which serves fresh gelato," she said.

Yogmas also added that new businesses help beautify the historically Italian neighborhood.

"If you walk down Liberty Avenue, closer to the Bloomfield Bridge, you'll see a vacant storefront that used to be an ice cream shop but hasn't operated in years. That's unfortunate, considering the family/community element of the neighborhood who would benefit from it. [Daisy's Banana Stand] is something we really needed," she said.

Read it here.

Monday, July 21, 2008

these are a few of my favorite things

1. Paul's CDs. In college, I'd take the 54C here to buy used indie rock cds. Now, I walk up the street to here to buy used indie rock cds.

2. Bocce tournaments under the Bloomfield Bridge. Great for watching cute Italian men of all ages!

3. Dreaming Ant video. Thank you for rekindling my interest in David Lynch films!

4. The view from my back porch. It's like 'Mary Poppins' up there. I can see over everyone's rooftops, all the way to the North Side on one end and Oakland on the other. At night, it's particularly awesome.

5. Italian Days - the annual festival that closes off traffic on Liberty Ave. and hosts food vendors, games, Frank Sinatra impersonators, an outdoor screening of "Moonstruck," and something awesome called an "Italian egg roll"

Friday, July 18, 2008

the times, they are a'changing

So all this talk about the BBT's new sign reminded me about how much the neighborhood has changed in the past few years, and how it is continuing to do so. First of all, real estate has gone way up. Not even 4 years ago, I looked into houses going at $50,000, but today those same types of houses on the same streets are at the very least $80,000. The Goodwill at the end of Liberty turned into a car dealership, while a car dealership down the street went out of business. A movie theater (long closed) turned into a Starbucks/sandwich shop, while plans for a new movie theater are being made on the lot of another closed car dealership. It's all part of a multi-million dollar development plan slated to redesign the Baum-Liberty corridor. In place of the Don Allen Auto City car dealerships, there are plans to build condos, a hotel, a grocery store, a movie theater, and buildings for office, retail, and medical use. Seems pretty impressive in scope, and the impact it will have on the community will hopefully be positive. You can read more about it here.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

whoomp, there it is.

I couldn't get the best angle from my car this morning, but here is the new mural. Maybe I was a little too harsh the other day. Maybe I just fear change. At any rate, it's certainly different.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

work in progress

Here's a picture of the mural's progress as of yesterday - pulled from an Internet messageboard.


Monday, July 14, 2008

sign o' the times

***UPDATE: Another reliable secondary source just informed me that it is, indeed, just primer and that they are repainting and restoring the mural. ***

This is second hand information, but I've just been told that the mural on the side of the BBT, THIS ONE:

has just been painted over. If this is true, how could they?!?!?!?! That is easily the most identifiable icon of the neighborhood. It's the image and personality. Big, bright letters that cheerfully invite you in. Oh, I'm so mad.

For now, I'm going to tell myself that maybe they're just touching it up. If it's gone for good, I may need to start a petition to get it back up there.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Butterflies in Bloomfield!

This local group is urging residents to bring butterflies to the area by choosing plants in their gardens that will attract them. If it works, they might be able to hold a butterfly hunt! For info on the types of plants and nectars that will attract butterflies, and to post photos of the butterflies you find in your garden, check out Butterflies in Bloomfield .

Monday, July 7, 2008

Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

By the way, Pgh Tribune-Review columnist Joseph Sabino Mistick wrote a nice feature about Bloomfield as a neighborhood business district. Read it here.

4th of July hijinx

Last weekend, I wound up at a Bloomfield 4th of July party that had an Elvis impersonator and a stripper. Oh, and fireworks too. But, yawn, those sights eventually became boring, so we wandered across the street to an old empty warehouse with a big dumpster in front of it. We soon found out that this place was probably once a print studio, because protruding from the dumpster were the discards of one - broken screens, outdated political signs, and transparencies for grocery store specials (Hot Peppers!!!! $.89 a lb.!!!!). Pretty cool, but it only made our adventurousness grow, so we wandered into the 'hollow' - that mysterious place at the bottom of Gross St. that eventually shoots you out over by Pittsburgh Brewing Company, wondering what the heck did you just see. Old train tracks, graffitied garages made to look like angry faces, other folk art masterpieces strewn about the landscape, rickety steps clinging to the side of an overgrown hillside, and empty buildings in various states of decay make you feel like something wicked this way comes. But that night we were relatively fearless (and stupid) so we found our way into one of those abandoned buildings, using our cell phones as flashlights, exploring the ruins of rusty office chairs, floppy disks, and metal shelving, which looks especially creepy in cellphone light. Now, I'm not condoning anyone to go snooping around these places, but I'm glad I did.

Monday, June 30, 2008

not technically Bloomfield, but...

...close enough. Yesterday was the (unofficial) Friendship community yard sale event. I woke up fairly early and walked up and down some of the streets, hitting up about a half dozen yard sales.

My bounty included:
-books about subliminal messages in advertising
-a small, ceramic wiener dog
-a yoga mat & holder
-leather moccassins
-"The Royal Tennenbaums" Criterion Collection DVD

All in all, not a bad day! However, once I took everything home, I quickly realized that I needed to have a yard sale of my own. I have way too much junk.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

There is a weekly Farmers' Market in the Immaculate Conception parking lot every Thursday from 3:30-7:30 p.m., from now through Thanksgiving.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Immaculate Conception Church Festival

This Wednesday through Saturday, June 25-28, Immaculate Conception Church is holding their annual festival. Aside from the usual carnival games and fair food, this place holds the most cut throat bingo games you'll ever encounter. Stay away from those foul-mouthed old ladies - they will seriously knock you down to get to their chips and call you every name in the book. My favorite part of this festival is the flea market in the basement - and if you go on the last day, you can fill a bag for a dollar or two. Somehow, I always manage to fill my bag.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

another good show this week - members of one of my favorite bands

Wednesday June 18
a major event with some stars of Terrastock!
indie-folk from Cambridge, MA - ex-members of Magic Hour and Galaxie 500
with Helena Espvall & Masaki Batoh (members of Espers and Ghost, new CD on Drag City)
and Pancreatic Aardvarks
8 pm $10 adv/$12 door
[Advance tickets on sale at Eide's Entertainment, Paul's CDs, Caliban Books, Wicked Discs,
Dave's Music Mine, Slacker, and The Exchange Squirrel Hill.]

Monday, June 16, 2008

researching a cool old building

if you walk across the Millvale Bridge on your way from North Oakland to Bloomfield, you'll notice a creepy building with lots of security cameras, a fenced in walkway, and very few windows tucked away in the hollow under the bridge. I've heard many speculations about this place - that it housed animal experimentation, secret government groups, and generally shady/scary stuff. Recently, my nebbiness got the best of me and I found a way to google it. The proper address is 720 Gross Street. Most recently, it was a research facility for West Penn Hospital, but it was recently for sale. You can see the real estate listing for it here.

So it's current status isn't that exciting but it's past life is actually pretty awesome. This facility used to house the Three Rivers Computer Corporation. They were there from 1980-1986. They were a branch of the computer science dept. of CMU and helped create some of the earliest computers and software. Even better, looks like they really knew how to party. Here's a link to some really fantastic old photos.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

take a walking tour

Here's a link to a really great walking tour of Bloomfield, complete with wonderful pictures: click

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Oh, the humidity!

For the past two weeks, I've been stuck in Harrisburg for work, but I've been told that they've started filling the Bloomfield pool and it's set to open on June 13!

this is especially exciting for me because it is less than a block away from my apartment. I am anticipating some weekend swimming very soon.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Sunday Night Hayride @ Howler's

I was gonna post my own description of local country drinkin' band the Beagle Brothers, but I think their website says it best:

"Known as Bloomfield's best live band (superlative added for emphasis), Pittsburgh's Beagle Brothers fuse punk rock sensibility with first rate traditional country music. Live performances often consist of three full sets of two-steppin' country twang, followed by a Yuengling fueled set of 80s power ballads. These eclectic performances feature high energy delivery and direct crowd interaction as the Beagle Brothers incorporate numerous sing-along hits from the underground of the American country catalog."

Basically, they're awesome. Every other Sunday, they host the Sunday Night Hayride at Howler's Coyote Cafe. They invite other country/folk groups from all over the place to join them, and there's always some free vegan food. If you hate Mondays as much as Garfield, this is a good remedy for forgetting.

Monday, June 2, 2008

meet me at the big yellow joint

Woo-hoo, A new business has opened on Liberty Ave. right next to the Pleasure Bar- the Banana Stand! Apparently it's all homemade ice cream, shakes, custard, etc., with an emphasis on bananas. Banana (and Arrested Development) fans, rejoice!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

The diner capital of Pgh

Our stretch of Liberty Ave. arguably has the biggest number of delicious breakfast nooks in the city in the smallest amount of space. Check this out: The Bloomfield Sandwich Shop, Rocky's, Dog&Burger, Seven Cees, and Ritters. With the exception of Ritter's, which is pretty well-known and well-marked, the rest of these places are so small and unknown that you might have to live there and wander around Liberty Ave. with a weekend hangover in order to find - and appreciate - them. Since I've had coffee & omelets at all of these places, I'll give you a brief review of each one.

Bloomfield Sandwich Shop:
Thank goodness for this place. Run by two fantastic hippies who singlehandedly feed the local punk population, it's (in my opinion) the best place to go for breakfast. You get a nice fluffy omelet with three different cheeses, some sliced homefries and toast. Under $5. Though it sells itself as a sandwich shop, I have never witnessed anyone ordering a sandwich there - just breakfast. Although they've recently extended their hours to dinner so I'll have to check it again.

This place is the best if you want to catch all the old Bloomfield characters. There's a little bar right in front of the kitchen, where Rocky himself chats with the chain smoking coffee drinkers who seem to always be there. The conversations are always interesting/amusing. As far as omelet quality goes, they're pretty substantial and artfully wrapped in a way that the crusted edges hang off the ends of your plate. Also super cheap.

Not sure if they still make it or not, but Dog&Burger used to be home of the Roethlisberger (two hamburger patties with pepperjack cheese, and a whole bunch of other stuff). I used to catch my bus right in front of Dog&Burger and they had a sign that read "Try our Roethlisberger - Only $2.75. You give us $3.00 and we'll give you a quarter back." For the longest time, I used to stare at it and be like, "well, duh." Months later, I got it. A little slow. This place has 4 tables total and a tiny little bar. The omelets are...not the best. They're really thin and puny. And it's always crowded by staff from the hospital across the street. Still, it's worth it.

Open 24 hours, this place has a mishmash of typical diner cuisine, breakfast foods, and oddly enough, some decent Greek selections. They also have fried green tomatoes with a dipping sauce that is addictive. Actually, anything they serve fried is pretty addictive. They have jukeboxes at ever table and the waitstaff wears hospital scrubs for some reason. They've been around forever, but there are rumors that they'll be bought by either UPMC or the housing development company that is going to tear down the car dealerships for luxury condos. Boo.

Seven Cees:
I think I've saved the best for last. Seven Cees is hidden behind a windowless facade on a poorly graffitied building. It is seldom open. When it is, there are seldom seats. There are 2 booths and about 5 or 6 stools at the counter. You're lucky to get one. The owner is the most foul-mouthed woman I've ever encountered, and she's constantly cussing at her son who does the serving and register. However, she makes the most heavenly omelets - light and fluffy and folded expertly into little triangular pockets and layers. They are fantastic. I wish I had one right now.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Something to do tomorrow night:

Two friends of mine started the New Yinzer link in 2000-2001. Since then, they've both moved on to other places and other things, but it's nice to see that the publication is still alive and well.

This event features some literary readings and some local bands and a real pretty flyer, but if you can't read it, it's tomorrow night at the Brillobox (corner of Penn & Main)

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Yo No Quiero Taco Bell

I've been thinking of starting a petition. As much as I love this neighborhood, there is one thing that it is seriously lacking.

We have two Thai restaurants,
two Vietnamese restaurants,
two Indian restaurants,
three Chinese restaurants,
one Polish restaurant,
about a dozen Italian restaurants (and 3 or 4 pizza joints),
but what's missing from this picture?

How about some burritos? Some fresh guacamole? Jeez, even a decent taco salad will do. Where is our Mexican restaurant?! There is a Taco Bell up on Baum Blvd., but let's be serious here. There are plenty of empty storefronts that could easily house this venture. Bring the burritos to Bloomfield!

Monday, May 19, 2008

Zumba classes at ModernFormations

You may snicker about the concept of zumba - high energy dance routines set to latin american pop music - but I'm willing to be that anyone who who gives it a shot will be hooked after one class...or at the very least, they'll have a great time. It's the current trend in aerobics, but most places that offer classes require you to either join a gym or commit to several months at a time. Even if you claim you can't dance, you won't be able to stand still to this music.

But at ModernFormations on Penn Ave., it's only $5 per class. Classes are Tuesdays at 6:30 p.m. and Saturdays at 11 a.m.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

"I Can't Be Blue in Bloomfield"

Here's the myspace page for a local band that has a cute little song about Bloomfield -

The Harlan Twins

They're performing live on May 23 at Garfield Artworks.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Welcome to Bloomfield!


This blog is all about Bloomfield, the Pittsburgh neighborhood where I live. I'll try to keep it current with upcoming events, news, stories, etc.

This picture is the mural of the Bloomfield Bridge Tavern, or the BBT for short. It's the only polish restaurant in what was (and still is) considered a mostly Italian area, and quite possibly the only place where you can eat pierogies while listening to live drum n' bass music.