BEHIND FAME15 :: Allentown, Where is That!?

want to know what we’re up to in the burgh? then you’ve come to the right place! we take you to our favorite pittsburgh haunts, give you a behind-the-scenes look at our client work, and share insights on what inspires us – from art and fashion to music, writing, pop culture, architecture, and, of course, cocktails. 


by LAURA EARLY

Eight months ago, Fame15 Creative joined the Allentown community. And now, eight months into operating out of one of Pittsburgh’s hidden neighborhoods, I still get the same questions: “Where is Allentown?” Followed inevitably by: “Why Allentown?” And of course: “Wait. Isn’t that near Lancaster?”  In this week’s blog post, I dish on where, why and what’s to come.

Warrington Avenue in the Allentown neighborhood of Pittsburgh, PA

Warrington Avenue in the Allentown neighborhood of Pittsburgh, PA

Humble Beginnings
Allentown was incorporated as a borough on March 2, 1870 and annexed to the City of Pittsburgh on April 2, 1872, consequently being numbered as the 31st Ward of the city. Since its beginnings, Allentown has been nestled in the heart of what is called the “Hilltop.” Joseph Allen (Allentown’s namesake) originally purchased the property that is now Allentown from the heirs of William Penn, for use in farming and housing.  The immigrant population grew rapidly in the last quarter of the 19th century.  At this time, artisans and craftsmen began establishing small businesses in which they could earn a living by applying their unique talents -- as butchers, bakers, tailors and shoemakers -- along what we now know as Warrington Avenue.  

Population increases in the late 1800s led to a burst of housing development. The boom, paired with crowded living conditions in the South Side and a desire to escape the soot and smoke of the factories, drove many workers to relocate to Hilltop communities like Allentown.  While the city’s iron workers were earning $13-$15 a week, our neighborhood was founded by the working class man earning wages of less than $5 a week, with brewers, shoemakers and tailors earning slightly more at $6 a week. The majority of the immigrants that settled into the Hilltop neighborhoods were Germans, who quickly created their favorite gathering places at local saloons and beer gardens. Many Pittsburghers are not aware that one of the first inclines of the city was actually situated only one block from Fame15’s office on Warrington Avenue -- better known at the time as the Knoxville Incline. Our grounds were once a popular mid-century rest and refreshment stop for many weary travelers.

Allentown business along Warrington Avenue

Allentown business along Warrington Avenue

A Vibrant Community
Fast forward to today, and Allentown is alive and well!  While the neighborhood has experienced its own cycles of boom and bust, the community is on an upswing and is teeming with new energy. Warrington Avenue has been filled with a variety of small businesses similar to those of our early founders, showcasing craftsmanship and creative skills.  Our neighborhood is anchored by two vastly unique, transformational businesses including Black Forge Coffee and The Onion Maiden. Both establishments have a common thread of heavy metal, good food and great drinks.  As you continue to walk through the neighborhood you will see the likes of Stuart Day Guitars, The Black Unicorn Project, WorkHard, The Academy, Drip Lounge, Supermonkey, Spool and more!  The variety of music, food and community -- and the vision to achieve your own wildest dreams -- drove Fame15 to Allentown. Since setting up shop here, my creative energy has been elevated and I have truly been inspired by what this burgeoning community has to offer.  

As we move through the spring and summer months, my blog posts will feature interviews and profiles of the businesses and residents of Allentown.  So now you know where and now you know why! Stay tuned for more from Allentown, and get social with our community #atwonpgh.

 
Knoxville Incline, at the intersection of Warrington Avenue and the current Police Station.

Knoxville Incline, at the intersection of Warrington Avenue and the current Police Station.