Former residents remember Whiteside Road community in Hill District
PITTSBURGH (KDKA) - A place that many considered to be "less than" ended up producing many amazing, successful people who've contributed much to the Pittsburgh community.
"It was a very special place to grow up in," said William Tucker Jr.
"People grew up to be lawyers, judges -- we have a judge -- educators, you name it, we had it all."
Tucker is talking about the residents of the former Whiteside Road in the Hill District. Roughly 95% of the kids who lived there grew up to be successful men and women -- judges, attorneys, police officers and even local news photojournalists.
Despite that, you won't find that street on any maps today.
"To see Whiteside Road go was just like seeing the Lower Hill go," he said.
"I can still remember seeing the big construction balls coming and swinging, knocking buildings down," he said, adding, "That was a sad sight."
Tucker says many people saw the area as only one thing -- a project -- but he says it was so much more.
"It was more than a housing project or a housing area. It actually was a village, we called it a village. The people make the area, not the housing."
After the Whiteside Road community was razed, it was renamed Memory Lane. While there are different homes there now, the old playground, pool and even a church remain. And the new neighborhood still has the same distinctive footprint that it always had.
"Whiteside Road was built as a horseshoe. There was one way in and one way out," Tucker explained.
"So I would make that loop and go all the way around and try and find my old house, which is kind of difficult to do now."
And even though there's still housing on the land, Tucker says it's not the same.
"When they tore down Whiteside Road, that was a piece, that was a part of me that was gone and I truly miss it."
Memories still linger, and not just for Tucker. In fact, many of the former residents still come back every September for a reunion to reminisce about the old community and how they were raised.
"You couldn't do anything as a kid growing up," Tucker said. "By the time you got home, you got three or four beatings before your mom got you."
He also said, "People watched out for each other."
One of KDKA-TV's veteran photojournalists, Aaron Sledge, is one of those proud, former Whiteside Road residents. We're honored to have had Aaron as part of our team for the past four decades.
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