As one of the 'Burgh's largest neighborhoods, Lawrenceville can also boast one of the richest histories as well. Founded by William Foster, the father (not the Ghost) of renowned Pittsburgh songwriter Stephen Foster, the locale is named for Captain James Lawrence. For those of you that paid attention during history class, you will know that he was the hero of the War of 1812, and gave us the famous line "Don't Give Up the Ship!". Above, is a photo* of a memorial that dominates Doughboy Square in Lawrenceville, in honor of the infantrymen of World War I.
Given its central location in the city, many have found Lawrenceville to offer a convenient commute to Downtown Pittsburgh and the hospitals and universities of Oakland. Many have relocated to the neighborhood recently, when the brand new Children's Hospital opened its doors and brought new jobs into the area. The hospital occupies 10 acres on the former St Francis Hospital site, and in addition to 296 beds, along with a 41 bed emergency department and a 36 bed pediatric intensive care unit, seven of the ten floors of Children's is dedicated to pediatric medical research.
Perhaps most exciting, is the amazing revitalization that Lawrenceville has seen in recent years. Not only have some of the historic homes been renovated to their former glory by forward thinking 'Burghers, the area was one of the first to offer loft living. One of the most popular, is the Blackbird Lofts on Butler Street. A green building, the lofts are spacious and modern, and epitomize urban living. Live/work spaces also dot the area, making it popular for artists looking for home studio space. The convenience to the many businesses and activities that generate the constant "buzz" unique to Lawrenceville, make living here easy and exciting.
The the main drag of Lawrenceville is home to some wonderful, locally owned shops, cafes and galleries. Creativity permeates this neighborhood, and the "16:62 Design Zone", which stretches from the Strip District into Lawrenceville, is a business corridor devoted to local art and design. It is here that you can find Artemis, a place that has helped to put Pittsburgh on the map for green construction and renovation. Artemis has selections of green materials for a small scale project, all the way to building from the ground up. Owner Janice Donatelli is exceptionally knowledgeable, and Artemis is a must-stop if you are considering any home renovation. Overall, Lawrencevillle's recent renaissance has made the area a haven for artists and craftsmen from around the area, and could likely be one of the best places to start a new business in the 'Burgh.
Let's talk about one of my favorite examples, Dozen. Voted one of my Best of 'Burgh Eats, the Lawrenceville location was the first of 4 bakeshops for the successful local chain. Almost always buzzing with activity, it's a great spot to grab a snack and take in some prime Larenceville people-watching. This location also offers a hearty menu that includes soups, salads and sandwiches. One of my favorite savory selections (how I miss you carbs), is the chiorzo and cheddar scone, remarkably flavorful and satisfying! Of course, what everyone comes to Dozen for are the cupcakes. They are, after all, what put them on the map. As a self-titled expert on all things frosting, I declare that you could eat Dozen's out of a vat with a spoon it is so yummy!
For the fashion savvy of the 'Burgh, Lawrenceville is high on the list of best locations to shop. Ambiance Boutique offers shopping for a good cause. Owned by Bethlehem Haven, all proceeds go toward helping homeless women with the support they need to become self-sufficient. Ambiance Boutique offers new and consigned designer clothing and accessories, as well as an exclusive selection of furs and evening gowns. Sugar Boutique on Butler Street devotes itself to offerings from emerging designers, keeping the fashion elite of the 'Burgh one step ahead of the pack. I am like a kid in a candy store in Pavement! Their unique selection of footwear usually leaves me drooling, and I can rarely leave the store empty handed!
A day of shopping and dining in Lawrenceville can leave you star-struck with the fabulous neighborhood. To make sure you don't miss anything, here is a complete A-Z directory of all of the dynamic Lawrenceville businesses.
Overall, the hard work of the residents, artists, craftsmen and business owners of Lawrenceville, have made this area one of the most exciting in the 'Burgh. The neighborhood has become an essential part of the development of our city as a whole, and a place where many 'Burghers live, work and play. Rich in history, and brimming with creativity, Lawrenceville's progress may very well give us a glimpse into the future of the 'Burgh.
*photo courtesy of Sean Luther