An Atlas of the Bon Air Neighborhood of Pittsburgh 1977 'BON AIR . , UNIVERSITY CENTER FOR URBAN RESEARCH UNIVERSITY OF pmSBU~GH 249 NORTH CRAIG STREET • \ flTTSBURGH, PENNSYLVANIA 15260 1209-0, Cathedral of learning Univ.rlity of Pittsburgh Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15260 Phone : (412) 624-3465 PITTSBURGH NEIGHBORHOOD ATLAS GOVERNING BOARD STAFF ADGER AHL8RANOT,JA. Unlvlrllty 01 PIUlbur!lh. School of Socltol Work Ctlllfl)erlCn JAMES VALLAS ShItdVlio. Vlc.Chllrp...on BARBARA KELl. V Perry-HilltOp Secretlry TERRY WOODCOCK SQuirrel Hili T ......... A.CHARD ARMSTEAD Hili Dln.I<;, JOSEPH BORKOWSKI L._rlrw;...IU. DAN IEL CHAPPELL Hili olndel MARY COYNE Wwt End JIM CUNNINGHAM ShldV-lo. MARY LOU DANIEL WMt End JESE DEL ORE Hili Dlltrlct WILLIAM P. GALLAGHER G'Mnfleid MARY HALL. Squl r.eI Hili ROSE JEWELL Shldy,lete GABOR 1(15H Elliott ROBERT "BLUE" "'AATIN HluoIwoOd THOMAS MURPHY PI"y Hllllop EXECUTiVe DIRECTOR WENDELL D. JORDAN AGENCIES A~llon.Hou.lng, Inc: . u.s. Bur. .u of thl C_u. C.,,,,,,,I.M.. lon Unl"lM'$lty Chrlltlln City Counc:1I Community A~llon Pln.burgh County Pllnnlng Otop.,.tm.nt He.lth • Wlllfl,1 Ptlnnlng A~lltlon Nltlonll Instltutl of NI lghbor. hood Studl.. Unl ...... ty of Plttlburgh School of Soclll Work Southw..t.rn Plnnlyl"lnll Aeglonl l Pllnnlng Comml.. lon SlItl Oipen,,-,t of Community AHlr. . Unltld WI.,. Urbln Ind Community AHlin· UnlVlNlity of Plttsbu'llh "_"t_ CONSULTANTS Unl ...... lty of Pltt.burgh Cent.. for Urblln A_,eh City Pllnnlng Depwtmlfll 02 SCHMIDT· GlOO'lPhy Oepl. , Unl","lty of Pittsburgh JOHN VOAIO· Hlghllnd Perk Wendell D. Jordan (East Liberty-Lemlngton-Llncoln) Margaret K. Charny (Squirrel Hill) Julia Whitener (Mexican War Streets) Millofred RUBsell (Homestead, Pa.) Gerald S. Oswalt (Schenley Heights) Katherine Knorr (East Liberty) John Zingaro (Shadyside) Dan Baskin Vicky Leap Howard Williams Ronald Madzy Tony Gary Mary Shea SUPPORTIVE INSTITUTIONS Pittsburgh Neighborhood Alliance Center for Urban Research of the Unlv. of Pgh. School of Social Work of the Univ. of Pgh. Architect Workshop City Council of the City of Pgh. Allegheny County Department of Elections ACTION-Housing, Inc. Department of City Planning of the City of Pgh. Southwestern Penna. Regional Planning Commission ACTION-Vista (Volunteers in Service to America) Valley View Presbyterian Church FUNDING SOURCES Alcoa Foundation Allegheny Conference on Community Development Howard Heinz Endowment Jones and Laughlin Steel Corporation Koppers Company Richard King Mellon Foundation City Council of the City of Pittsburgh The Pittsburgh Foundation Henry Oliver Rea Charitable Trust Sarah Scaife Foundation, Inc. Weld Tooling Company University of Pittsburgh (In Kind) Initiated by the PITTSBURGH NEIGHBORHOOD ALLIANCE INTRODUCTION The Pittsburgb Neighborhood Alliance was formed in 1969 by a number of neighborhood organizations that were concerned with improving the city's neighborhoods and their relations with city government. The members of the Alliance recognized that in order to negotiate effectively with city government about such major concerns as pub11c service needs, capital improvements and transportation, it was necessary to obtain accurate, up-to-date information about the neighborhoods. Unfortunately, this information was not available. To remedy this situation, the Alliance developed its Pittsburgh Neigh- borhood Atlas project. First, the boundaries of the city's neighborhoods had to be determined. The Pittsburgh Neighborhood Atlas asked people attending ccxmnun1ty meetings to name and describe the boundaries of the neighborhoods in which they lived. This information was also provided by an Atlas-initiated survey. Responses tram every voting district of the city were analyzed to assure citizen involvement at the neighborhood level. Seventy-eight neighborhoods were thus identified, each made up of one or more whole voting districts in order to comply with provisions in Pittsburgh's home rule charter relating to the election of community advisory boards. The Atlas then gathered a body of usefUl and up-to-date information tor every neighborhood. It is the beginning of a neighborhood int'ormation system that more closely reflects neighborhood boundaries as defined by residents instead of by public officials. In the past, statistics about sections of tbe city have been based on information published for relatively large areas such as census tracts. For the atlas, much of the material describing neighborhood characteristics came fran figures ccmpiled for sma.ller areas: voting districts or census blocks. As a result, detailed information is now available for neighborhoods whose boundaries differ substantially fran census tract boundaries. The information in this atlas provides an insight into current neighborhood. conditions and the direction in which the neighborhood is moving. '!be best indicators showing the health of the neighborhood are provided by citizen satisfaction with the neighborhood, and changes in residential real estate transaction prices. Comparison of these statistics to those for the entire city provide a basis to begin understanding issues of' neighborhood. atability. In the years to cane, as additional data are gathered for each of these indicators, trends will becane more obvious. It is important to recognize that neighborhood change is a canplex process and that one indicator by itself may not be usefUl. Neighborhoods may be healthy regardless of their level ot incane, and therefore incane-related statistics ~ not be useful guides by themselves. Neighborhoods must be viewed over time in terms ot relative changes canpared to the oi ty as a whole, and 8I1Y analysis of neighborhood conditions must focus upon al1 of the data in order to provide a caoprehensive understa.nding. To learn about specific sections of the neighborhood, figures by individual voting district or census tract may be obtained. Additional intormation on the neighborhood or the information system is available through the center for Urban Research ot the University at Pittsburgh, which has made an outstanding contribution to the development of this atlas. - 1- NEIGHBORHOOD DESCRIPTION Bon Air 1s approximately 2.3 miles south of downtown. It is estimated to be 234.8 acres in size, containing 0.7% of the city's land and 0.3% of its 1974 population. The voting district in the neighborhood is #15, Ward 18. (See Appendix for 8 listing of the neighborhood's census tracts.) I} . --- -2- NEIGHBORHOOD HISTORY BON AIR Bon Air was originally B part of West Liberty Borough which had been incorporated in 1876 and settled by coal mine employees. In 1898, Fred Baxmeyer and Alex Dempster formed the Bon Air Land Company. Buying a portion of the Bandi farm, the men went into business with the advertisement, "Prettiest, cleanest, healthiest place about Pittsburgh - Two miles from the Court House - Building restrictions on all lots." Streets bearing the names of the Baxmeyers and Dempsters were laid out, and water and gas pipes were placed. Bon Air became the 18th Ward of Pittsburgh in 1907 when West Liberty joined the city . Street names were changed because most were similar to others already existing in the city. During the 1940's and 1950's, Bon Air's population rose from 115 to 1,050. The neighborhood's original 30 homes increased to over 200 in 1952. Poplar trees that once marked the area were cut down after development because of inter ference with the sewage system. McKinley Park first came to notice as a convenient nook for picnickers around 1875, when a group of butchers gathered there to celebrate Independence Day. The area came to be known as "Butchers' Grove." -3- BON AIR SUMMARY STATISTICS Neighborhood Population (1974) 1,388 Pittsburgh 7. Change (1970-1974) -n 479,276 -87. % Black population (1970) 17, 207. 427 27. 166,625 67. 82% 54% Housing units (1974) '7.. Vacant % Owner-occupied housing units (1974) Average sales price of owner-occupied dwellings (1975) $21,433 $23,518 % Residential real estate transactions with mortgages provided by financial institutions (1975) Crime rate (1975) Average family income (1969) Income index ss % of city index (1974) 44% 0.020 0.053 $10,500 $10,500 1047. % Satisfied with neighborhood (1976) Major neighborhood problems (1976) 59% 4U Stray dogs Dog litter Poor roads Dog litter Burglary CITIZEN SURVEY The purpose of the citizen survey was to obtain attitudes about the quality of the neighborhood environment. Citizens were asked to respond to questions concerning the neighborhood as a whole, neighborhood problems, and public services. The attitudinal data, heretofore not available, are key indi cators of the relative health of the neighborhood. By specifying neighborhood problems or public service needs, the information may be a useful guide for public investment or service delivery decisions. The city - wide survey was mailed to a randomly selected sample of registered voters. Of approximately 35,000 households contacted, 9,767 responded. The sample provides a 5% response rate for each of the city's 423 voting districts. (See Appendix for a profile of the respondents as well as for statistics on voter registration. ) -4I. Neighborhood Satisfaction Bon Air residents are generally more satisfied with their neighborhood than residents city-wide. Table 1 shows that 62% of the citizens responding to the survey were satisfied with their neighborhood compared to 41% in all city nei ghborhoods. When asked to state whether the neighborhood is better or worse than two years ago, 7% said that it was better which was less than the city-wide response of 12%. Given the opportunity to move from the neighborhood, 48% said they would continue to live there compared to a respons~ of 45% for the city as a whole. The responses to these satisfaction quescions indicate a mixed attitude of residents toward their neighborhood compared to citizens city-wide. TABLE 1 Neighborhood Satisfaction Bon Air Question 1: Generally, how satisfied are you with conditions in the neighborhood? Satisfied Bon Air All neighborhoods Question 2: (7.) 62 41 14 37 21 21 Do you think this neighborhood has gotten better or worse over the past two years? Bon Air All neighborhoods Worse Not Changed (7.) ---ID- (%) 7 12 34 SS 49 36 If you had your choice of where to live, would you continue living in this neighborhood? Bon Air All neighborhoods SOURCE : Neither (7.) Better Question 3: Dissatisfied (%) 48 4S 24 32 21 18 Citizen Survey, 1976. NOTE: The percent responses to each question do not add up to 100%. The difference is accounted for by the following: "don I t know". "unable to evaluate", or no answer. r= -5- II. Neighborhood Problems In order to identify specific neighborhood problema, residents were asked to consider twelve problems usually associated with urban communities and rate them for the neighborhood. Table 2 compares the problem ratings of the respondents from Bon Air to those from all city neighborhoods. Areas of particular concern for the neighborhood include stray dogs and dog litter. III. Satisfaction with Public Services Table 3 shows the satisfaction of Bon Air residents with their public services and compares the responses to data for all city neighborhoods. City-wide, residents are least satisfied with street and alley maintenance. Bon Air residents are more satisfied with respect to the fire department, garbage collection and the police. and less satisfied with respect to public transportation. street and alley maintenance, and schools. The Citizen Survey also asked the respondents to list the services with which they were the least satisfied and to explain the reasons for their dissatisfaction. Residents from Bon Air gave the greatest number of reasons for dissatisfaction to the services listed below. Included is a summary of the major reasons for their dissatisfaction . . 1. Street and alley maintenance: Poor maintenance; need for better street repair programj poor quality of street cleaning services. 2. Public transportation: Need for more efficient transportation system; need better bus schedulign. 3. Schools: Inadequate busing to schools. -6TABLE 2 Neighborhood Problems Bon Air Problem Category Problem Rating - Percent Response Not a Problem Minor or Moderate 28 25 62 45 3 21 17 13 59 49 14 28 Bon Air All neighborhoods 45 34 21 33 7 12 Burglary Bon Air All neighborhoods 17 14 48 44 14 29 Poor roads Bon Air All neighborhoods 28 17 62 41 7 33 Trash and litter Bon Air All neighborhoods 41 27 52 41 3 24 Vacant buildings Bon Air All neighborhoods 72 49 17 24 13 Undesirable people moving into the neighborhood Bon Air All neighborhoods 59 42 28 28 15 Stray dogs Bon Air All neighborhoods 17 25 45 38 34 18 17 52 38 28 32 Unsafe streets Bon Air All neighborhoods Vandalism Bon Air All neighborhoods Big or Very Serious Rats • Dog litter Bon Air All neighborhoods SOURCE: 21 0 3 Citizen Survey, 1976. NOTE: The percent responses to each question do not add up to 100%. The difference is accounted for by the following: "don't know", "unable to evaluate", or no answer. The problem categories of alcoholism and drug abuse are not included in the table because the response rates to these questions were low. • -7- TABLE 3 Satisfaction with Public Services Bon Air Percent Response Service Satisfied Neither Dissatisfied Parks and Recreation Bon Air All neighborhoods 48 51 21 15 24 23 Schools Bon Air All neighborhoods 52 46 3 12 21 21 Street maintenance Bon Air All neighborhoods 59 32 14 15 28 49 Alley maintenance Bon Air All neighborhoods 35 20 14 13 21 39 Garbage collection Bon Air All neighborhoods 90 74 7 10 13 Police Bon Air All neighborhoods 76 51 21 17 0 23 Public transportation Bon Air All neighborhoods 41 61 24 11 34 23 Bon Air All neighborhoods 76 78 7 7 3 3 Sewage system Bon Air All neighborhoods 69 63 14 10 13 Condition sod cost of housing Bon Air All neighborhoods SS 17 44 17 3 Fire Department SOURCE: NOTE : 3 7 22 Citizen Survey, 1976. The percent responses to each question do not add up to 100%. The difference is accounted for by the following: I1don't know", "unable to evaluate". or no answer. Public health and mental health/ mental retardation services are not included in the table because the response rates to these questions were low. - 8- CRIME RATE The crime rate for major crimes has fluctuated over the last three years (Table 4). For 1973 the number of major crimes per capita was .026. The crime rate increased in 1974 to .029; then decreased to ,020 in 1975. The crime rate in the neighborhood was les8 than the city per capita rate of .053 in 1975. TABLE 4 Crime Rate: Bon Air Major Crimes Year Major Crimes Number 1973 36 .026 .043 1974 40 . 029 .047 1975 28 .020 .053 SOURCE: Crime Rate Pittsburgh Neighborhood City of Pittsburgh, Bureau of Police. NOTE: Major crimes are murder, rape, robbery, assault, burglary. and theft. The neighborhood crime rate is computed by dividing the number of crimes committed in the neighborhood by its adjusted population for 1974. E -9THE PEOPLE Table 5 and Table 6 present data on the characteristics of the neighborhood population and compare them to city-wide sta tistic s . In 1974, the estimated population of Bon Air was 1,388, down by 3% since 1970. This compares to a city-wid e population decline of 8% during the same period. Information on the racial composition of the neighborhood is not available for 1974; however, the number of Bl ack households in t he neighborhood increased during the decade of the sixties, and the Black population was 1.1% of the neighborhood's population in 1970, compared to 20.2% for the city. The average household size in the neighborhood was 2.99 persons in 1974, down from 1970. The percentage of the population 65 years and older was 8.6% in 1970, compared to 13.5% for the city as a whole. TABLE 5 Population and Househo ld Charac teristics , 1970 and 1974 Bon Air Neighborhood 1974 1970 Population i" Black '7~ 65 years and over Households % One-person households 7. Retired head~of-househo1d 7. Households with children 7. Female head~of-household with children 7. In owner-occupied housing unit 7. Househo lds changing place of residence within past year Average household size SOURCES: NOTE : 1.1% 8.67. 12.1% 86.97. Pittsburgh 1970 1974 20.27. 13.5% 13.47. 21.3% 42.3% 3.6% 82.37. 25.4% 50.3% 11. n. 3.33 2.99 2S . S·/' 26.3% 32. n. 6.47. 54.27. 27.01. 2.82 2.67 U. S. Census (1970) and R. L. Polk & Co. (1974). Dotted lines ( •... ) indicate data unavai l able for that year. The turnover rate of households in the neighborhood is less than that fo r all of the city's neighborhoods. During 1973, 11.77" of the households in the neighborhood changed their place of residence compared to a rate of 27.0% for the city . (The figures represent households who have moved within the neighborhood or city as well as those moving into or out of the neighborhood or city.) -10Female-headed households with children in 1974 comprised 3.6% of the total households in the neighborhood compared to 6.4% for the city as a whole. In 1974, one-person households consisted of 13.4% of the total households in the neighborhood compared to 25.5% city-wide and to 12.1% for the neighborhood in 1970. TABLE 6 Neighborhood Change: Bon Air 1960-1970 and 1970-1974 Percent Change Neighborhood Pittsburgh Number Neighborhood Population 1960 1970 1974 1,500 1,428 1,388 Households 1 1960 1970 1974 Black households 1960 1970 1974 431 429 418 - 5 - 3 -14 - 8 less than. - 1 - 3 - 6 -12 +50 +15 - 1 - 2 -12 2 2 3 (not available) Housing un! ts 1960 1970 1974 SOURCES: 439 434 427 - 3 U. S. Census (1960; 1970) and R. L. Polk & Co . (1974). NOTE: The population figures reported by Polk are adjusted to account for underreporting. Population includes persons living in institutions and other group quarters, such as nursing homes~ dormitories or jails. Differences in the population, household , or housing unit count between 1970 and 1974 are due primarily to changes occurring in the neighborhood. A small percentage of the difference may be accounted for, however, by variations in data gathering techniques. Census statistics were compiled from information provided by all city households answering a standard questionnaire either by mail or interview on or about April I, 1970. R. L . Polk collected its information by a door-to-door survey carried out over a period of several months. (See Appendix.) IThe number of occupied housing units equals the number of households. ~on-white households in 1960. -11- NEIGHBORHOOD INCOME The average family income in Bon Air was $10,500, the same as the city average. R. L. Polk and Company computes an income index for each city census tract. This index, derived from the occupation of heads of households, was used to calculate the income index of the neighborhood. In 1974, the index for Bon Air was 104% of the figure for the city as a whole. Table 7 shows the number of neighborhood households receiving cash grants in 1974, 1975 and 1976 under the public assistance program of the Pennsylvania Department of Welfare. Public assistance in the form of food stamps, Medicaid, and various social services are also available to these households, as well as to other households in need. Public assistance payments were made to 6.770 of the neighborhood households in 1976, a lower proportion than for the city overall and an increase since 1974. TABLE 7 Public Assistance: Bon Air Year Households Receiving Cash Grants Neighborhood Number Percent Pittsburgh Percent 1974 24 5.7 16.0 1975 1B 4.3 17.2 19H 2B 6.7 1B.O SOURCE: Allegheny County Board of Assistance. NOTE: The percentages are based on 1974 Polk households. Only households receiving cash grants under Aid to Dependent Children, Aid to Dependent Children-Unemployed Pa r ent; General Assistance, and State Blind Pension programs are tabulate~. The count is of those on assistance as of Apri l 5, 1974, February 2B , 1975. and Feb r uary 27, 1976; house holds whose grants were terminated between reporting da t es are not included. , -12HOUSING Table 6 shows that the number of housing units in Bon Air decreased during the decade of the sixties and decreased from 1970 to 1974. Of the occupied housing units. 82.3% were owner-occupied in 1974, compared to a citywide rate of 54.2%. The vacancy rate for the neighborhood was 2.17. which was less than the rate for the city as a whole. (See Table 8.) The average value of owner-occupied housing in the neighborhood was $14,500 in 1970, compared to a city-wide average of $14,800. A housing expenditure greater than 25% of household income is often considered to be excessive and a problem associated with low income households. In 1970, for the city 8S a whole, less than 1% of renter households earning $10,000 or more a year spent 25~ or more of this income for rent; of those earning less than $10,000, 43.77~ spent 25% or more of their income on rent. In Bon Air, 10.6~ of renter households in the lower income category paid out 25~ or more of their income on rent. These percentages suggest a lack of housing choice for renters with limited incomes, both in the neighborhood and the city. TABLE 8 Housing Characteristics, 1970 and 1974 Bon Air Neighborhood 1970 1974 Housing units 7.. Vacant 7.. One-unit structures 90.3 Occupied housing units 7.. Owner-occupied 86.9 Average value: owneroccupied units l $14,500 SOURCES: 1 1.2 Pittsburgh 1970 1974 2.1 6.2 52.9 6.2 82.3 50.3 54.2 $14,800 U. S. Census (1970) and R. L. Polk & Co. (1974), Average value rounded to nearest one hundred dollars. -13- REAL ESTATE ~~ MORTGAGE LOAN TRANSACTIONS The average sales price of owner-occupied housing was $21,433 in 1975. (See Table 9 . ) Although the average price was less than the city - wide average, the implications of this divergence are difficult to judge because of variations in the quality and size of the structures among city nei ghborhoods. As additional data are obtained, however, the trend in real estate prices for the neighborhood can be compared to the trend for the city as a whole in order to determine relative differences. In order to evaluate the extent to which private lenders are involved in the neighborhood, the number of mortgage loans made on residential property each year must be divided by the number of residential real estate transactions for that year. The percentage of residential real estate transactions financed through financial institutions was 44% in 1975 in Bon Air compared to a city-wide rate of 59%. The implications of the difference between the two rates are difficult to discern because of variations in risk factors and income levels among city neighborhoods. However, as additional data become available, trends in lending activity within the neighborhood compared to other nei ghborhoods or to the city as a whole can be assessed. TABLE 9 Real Estate and Mortgage Loan Statistics Bon Air Nei ghbo r hood Average sales price: dwellings Pittsburgh owner-occupied 1974 1975 $20,100 $21,433 $21,582 $23,518 Number of residential mortgages 1973 1974 1975 7 5 6 % Residential real estate transactions with mortgages provided by financial institutions 1974 1975 SOURCE: City of Pittsburgh, Department of City Planning. 46% 44% 58% 59% -14- APPENDIX a. Data Sources: Information for the atlas was obtained from the 1960 and U. S. Census of Poputation and Housing; R. L. Polk snd Company's "Profiles of Change" for Pittsburgh in 1974; Pittsburgh's Department of City Planning and Bureau of Police; the Allegheny County Board of Assistance, and Department of Elections and Voter Registration; Southwestern Pennsylvania Regional Planning Commission; and the Cittzen Survey conducted by the Pittsburgh Neighborhood Atlas. b. Neighborhood Census Tract: 1806. c. Methodology: The neighborhood boundaries were determined on the basis of whole voting districts. However, census tracts do not usually . correspond exactly with voting district boundaries, and simplifications were made where necessary to facilitate data collection efforts. The opinions and characteristics of survey respondents, as well as voter registration, were recorded by voting district and then compiled for Bon Air by the Pittsburgh Neighborhood Atlas in conjunction with the Center for Urban Research, University of Pittsburgh. All other statistics tabulated for the neighborhood were compiled from data available by census tract. To compensate for under-reporting, the 1974 figure for the neighborhood population has been increased by 1.11, a factor that was derived from the U. S . Bureau of the Census 1973 population estimate for Pittsburgh. An additional adjustment has been made where applicable, since Polk and Co. does not count persons living in institutions or other group quarters. To arrive at the total estimated population for 1974, the neighborhood population was further increased by adding the number of persons in group quarters for the neighborhood according to the 1970 Census. d. Characteristics of the Sample: In Bon Air, 29 citizens answered the questionnaires. Based on the number of replies to each question, the characteristics of the respondents can be generally described as follows: an average age of 49; 54% female; 07. Black; 93% with at least four years of high school education; 79% homeowners; and an average of 22 years in the neighborhood . The median household income falls in the range of $10,000 to $14,999; the average household size is 3.25 persons; and 52% of the households have no members under 18 years old living in the home. The total sample (all respondents to the survey) was over-represented by homeowners (68% compared to 50% for Pittsburgh in 1970) and under-represented by Blacks (14% compared to a city Black population of 207. in 1970). e. Voter Registration: In November, 1976 , 662 residents of the neighborhood were registered to vote, a decrease of 24 (-3.5%) since November, 1975. In this period, city registration increased by 1 . 3% to 233,028.
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