Kim Gandy has lived on the North Side for her entire life.
But she didn’t learn about the history of that area — once a separate municipality called Allegheny City, today a section of Pittsburgh that includes Brighton Heights, Fineview, North Shore and Spring Garden — until she was an adult.
“I don’t want that to happen to anyone else,” Gandy said. She’s always loved the North Side, she added, but now she has a lot more pride.
Gandy and her history buff husband, Bill, are the co-founders of Allegheny City Historic Gallery, which opened in 2015 in Deutschtown. The gallery has been out of its former space at 433 East Ohio St. since August. In March, they plan to re-open the gallery at 713-715 East St., a bigger space on a corner where “a lot of the businesses moved out of.”
“It’s a labor of love for us,” Gandy said. “It’s a struggle sometimes for us. We’re volunteering, basically.”
To help get the new space fixed up, Gandy said they’re seeking donations of both money (“as much as I hate it”) and labor. They’re also always looking for pictures of the North Side (which are preserved online, as well) and picture frames.
Gandy said some people are reluctant to donate photos of their families with North Side roots, thinking the pictures aren’t historic. But there could be something interesting in the background of those photos, she said, or the family’s last name may help others make a previously unknown connection.
“Families are what’s important, too,” Gandy said.
While the gallery is moving to a new space, one thing that’s vital to Gandy will stay the same: Admission will still be free.
“The important thing is, when someone wants to get the inkling to come in or to reminisce, we’re available to them at no cost. We don’t want to turn anyone away,” she said. “The most important people we really need to reach are people without money.”
The gallery will also continue to host neighborhood reunions, especially for ones that don’t exist anymore. Places like East Street Valley, which was largely destroyed to build I-279; another reunion for that area is planned for April.
The Gandys are also working on a North Side history project for children that will include a coloring book. If kids learn about where they’re from when they’re young, Gandy said, they “might have little more neighborhood pride.” It’s a passion for local history that Gandy said “people can emulate in other neighborhoods in other cities.”
“Everyone should experience how great their neighborhood is.”