Depression Era Brookline Boulevard - 1936
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Here is a fascinating look at Brookline Boulevard in 1936. The country is mired in the Great Depression, and President Roosevelt would soon be entering his second term. Due to the strength of the steel industry, Pittsburgh was spared the worst economic hardship of the depression years, but things were still difficult.
The Boulevard itself was the center of the community at this time in history. Brookline was considered suburbia, being separated from the city by the hilly terrain of Coal Hill. Like most neighborhoods of the time, Brookline was self-sufficient, and a stroll along the Boulevard was like a walk through the suburban malls of today.
There were shops to cater to the various needs of the local population. There were grocery stores, soda shops, pharmacies, hardware stores, clothing retailers, cobblers, tailors, record stores, barber shops, five and dime stores, newsstands, auto mechanics, repair stores, a movie theatre, dentists, doctors, cigar stores, bars, nightclubs and much more.
Elementary Schools were within walking distance. You never really had to leave the community. Most families did not own automobiles. Many would only travel on the occasional trip to downtown or to attractions like Forbes Field or Kennywood Park, easily accessible via the trolley network.
Life was truly different in yesteryear, but in many ways still the same. The Boulevard, through the decades, has still retained it's character and value to the citizens of Brookline. You can still browse the shops and find many of the amenities offered in the past. Although large malls have forced changes in the types of services available, you can still find much of what you need on Brookline Boulevard.
Like the days of old, if you are without transportation, the Port Authority bus service can still get you just about anywhere in the city that you want to go. It may lack the nostalgia and romance of riding the rails, but travelers can benefit from an air conditioned ride!
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