Saint Clair Village Housing Project

St. Clair Village - 1955

Saint Clair Village, shown above in 1955, was a Pittsburgh urban housing development, located high above Beck's Run Road in the neighborhood of St. Clair, that stood from 1951 to 2010.

Formed in 1806, the boundaries of Lower St. Clair Township once included the present-day communities of West End, Mount Washington, South Side, Beechview, Brookline, Banksville, Beltzhoover, Mount Oliver, Bon Air, Knoxville, Allentown, parts of Baldwin, Carrick and Overbrook. By 1920, sparsely populated St. Clair was the final section of Lower Saint Clair Township not yet annexed into the city of Pittsburgh.

With the destruction of the housing stock in the lower Hill District as part of the urban renaissance taking place downtown, the City of Pittsburgh began construction of the St. Clair Village complex in November of 1951. It was one of several projects built by the Housing Authority during this time period to help with displaced residents.

St. Clair Village - 1955   St. Clair Village - 1955
Two views of the Saint Clair Village housing project taken in 1955.

The acquisition of the property (forty-four individual parcels totaling 107 acres) cost the Housing Authority $562,000. An additional $1.8 million was spent to improve the location, which originally consisted of two hills separated by a ravine with steep slopes.

A total of 530,000 cubic yards of earth were moved to convert the site into a community of 680 apartments and town homes. The complex included open courtyards, a multi-purpose hall, recreation center, outdoor swimming pool, basketball courts and a playground.

By the 1990s, what had started out as a promising concept eventually fell apart, due in many ways to a lack of funding for proper facility upkeep. Many buildings in the community fell into disrepair and soon vacancies ran as high as fifty percent.

St. Clair Village - circa 1957
Aerial view of St. Clair Village (circa 1957).

Several of the buildings were razed over the years in downsizing efforts meant to keep the dwindling community financially viable. These were unsuccessful.

In September 2010, the remaining residents were relocated and what was left of St. Clair Village demolished. The Housing Authority retained ownership of twenty-seven acres for possible redevelopment, and ninety acres were sold to the Allegheny Land Trust.

The sixty-seven acres of wooded hillside property owned by the Land Trust is now a conservation area. The remaining twenty-three acres have been leased for farming.

St. Clair Village
Sketch of the proposed Hilltop Urban Farm made in 2014.

After several years of planning, in 2017 work began on the Hilltop Urban Farm with the goal of transforming the site into the largest urban farm in the United States.

That would be a fitting return to the roots of the former Lower Saint Clair Township, a rural breadbasket that at one time boasted a farm valuation that surpassed that of many counties.

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