By Heather Abraham

EAST LIBERTY (KDKA) – A group of people in East Liberty took a walk Friday morning to promote the revitalization of the neighborhood.

“There’s a lot of change going on in East Liberty right now, and we’re seeing it in a community that really saw disinvestment for over 40 years,” Mayor Bill Peduto said.

Something as simple as a walk – that’s what happened Friday morning in East Liberty.

But with this walk a group of community leaders, business owners and residents took the first steps toward the future of the neighborhood.

They were following in the footsteps of famed urban studies pioneer Jane Jacobs. In 1961, her book “The Death and Life of Great American Cities” changed the game in urban planning.

“Her famous call was for people in neighborhoods to get out and understand their neighborhood and to walk the neighborhood,” Janera Soloman of the Kelly Strayhorn Theater said.

The Scranton, Pa., native often said you can manipulate scale models and invent dream cities all you want, but the only real way of knowing what will work in a particular neighborhood is to get out and walk it.

“We wanted to give people opportunity to see neighborhood from a different perspective,” Soloman said. “There’s lots of talk about East Liberty and the revitalization, and we are excited about that revitalization.”

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This was the first ever “Jane’s Walk” in Pittsburgh. The walks have been going on in other cities around the world for nearly a decade.

In addition to really seeing the neighborhood, the walks are also a chance for people to get to know their neighbors and share memories, all while moving forward.

“With change, there are always things that you miss, that you remember about the past, and then there are hopes and dreams you have for the future,” Soloman said, “and this is what we’re here to do together is to think about what we’d like our neighborhood to be in the future.”

“If you look at how we redeveloped East Liberty in the 1960s and 70s, it was through a demolition ball, and we took out the heart of one of the most thriving business districts in all of western Pennsylvania,” Mayor Peduto said. “In doing it again, we don’t wanna make the same mistakes twice. We wanna learn from them and be able to preserve the beauty that’s within this community.”

This year marks the 100th anniversary of Jane Jacobs’ birth. She died 10 years ago, just a few days shy of her 90th birthday. But many say her impact on city planning will live on for years to come.

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