This weekend I visited the Carnegie Library in Braddock (the first Carnegie Library) for the Carnegie International’s “All You Can Art” Art Lending Collection opening celebration. It was awesome.
The library was filled with artists, Braddock residents, Carnegie Museum visitors (shuttled from Oakland) and many others interested in art. The building was enormous with three levels plus a basement; each level designed completely different from the next. The third floor had basketball court and a screen printing room, the basement was a pottery studio, the second level was shared with a theater, all in addition to the books and other resources the library provides.
The most interesting, beautiful and historical room was the theater. The library was working to restore the room and I’m excited to see it glistening again! It had beautiful velvet chairs with amazingly built frames, pretty gold accents and fantastically painted detail on the ceiling and woodwork. Pittsburgh architecture is beautiful and it’s always great to see original work able to be preserved or restored. I prefer older buildings and houses with a history to the new ones.
Braddock itself had plenty of historical buildings. It was sad to drive down Braddock Avenue and see the endless boarded up, vacant and closed businesses. Luckily, it seems that Mayor Fetterman and other residents are working to make Braddock a better place to live and visit. Fetterman spoke at TEDxGrandviewAve last year and his speech was so moving. I had no idea just how bad Braddock had become. He spoke (and provided pictures) of houses literally falling down due to lack of upkeep. His words and presentation were heartbreaking. The most shocking was when he told us of the amount of businesses booming in Braddock years ago (I think it was 96?) and now it is down to two barbershops.
I’m hoping to see more development in Braddock. I recall hearing that one of Pittsburgh’s great chefs is looking to open a restaurant, which would be a great start to more businesses moving in. I’m looking forward to seeing what the area is like in 10 years, I’m sure it won’t be like it was in the 20’s and 30’s, but hopefully more good will be present.
I’m also looking forward to heading back to the library many times to use their pottery studio and screen printing room!