Jump to main content


Site History

From the early 1900's to the 1950's, the Lower Hill was a vibrant neighborhood of diverse residents, several churches and synagogues, and was an initial place of residence for many immigrants to the Pittsburgh region. The neighborhood became the center of Pittsburgh's jazz tradition with many well-known clubs and restaurants, earning the nickname "Little Harlem".

In the early 1950's the site was identified as an area of intensive urban renewal and a proposal was advanced to create a Cross-town Boulevard highway connection (I-579) and a new civic cultural center. In the mid 1950's, the neighborhood was razed and approximately 8,000 residents and 400 businesses were relocated to make way for the new boulevard and Civic Arena. The Civic Arena was completed in 1961 as the new home for the Pittsburgh Civic Light Opera in addition to accommodating the occasional concert, circus tour, or convention. After two seasons in the Civic Arena the CLO abandoned the facility due to poor acoustics. In 1967, the Pittsburgh Penguins played their first season in the National Hockey League and became the building's primary tenant. The Civic Arena hosted numerous major sporting events, concerts and other public events for five decades until it was closed in 2010. PPG Paints Arena opened in August 2010, and the Civic Arena was demolished in 2012.  

The historical report in the supporting documents tab provides a comprehensive overview of the history behind the Lower Hill District and the Civic Arena Site.