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Students take role in city’s history

By Ron DaParma
Friday, April 8, 2005

History is one of Amy Lollo’s favorite subjects.
So it’s not surprising the fourth-grader at Phillips Elementary School on the South Side is an eager participant in the Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation’s “Save Our History” project.

She is among about 500 students from four elementary schools in and around the South Side taking part in the project, which is focused on preserving the legacy of East Carson Street, the community’s historic main street.

“I love history,” Lollo, 11, said Thursday just before she joined other program participants, their teachers and guests for an afternoon program at Phillips Elementary to thank the History Channel for a $10,000 grant.

Since January, students from Phillips, Arlington and Philip Murray elementary schools, and Bishop Leonard Catholic, have been involved in activities ranging from research and community interviews to drawing sketches of commercial buildings and composing poetry and works of art.

“I interviewed my grandmother about what things have been made and what has been torn down,” said Lollo, adding that she later composed an essay about her experience.

One thing she learned, she said, is the Brady Street Bridge, which for years spanned the Monongahela River, was torn down in 1978 after the construction of the Birmingham Bridge now linking the South Side to neighborhoods on the northern bank of the river.

The History & Landmarks Foundation is one of 29 organizations across the country chosen for the newly established History Channel grants, said Judy Klein Frimer, director of brand enhancement for the History Channel.

“You folks are the whole future of saving our history,” Frimer told the students yesterday. “Unless you understand and treasure it, we won’t have a history and neither will your children’s children.”

“East Carson Street is 194 years old, but it’s very much alive today because of the quality of life it supports,” said History & Landmarks Foundation executive director Louise Sturgess, who is overseeing implementation of the local project.

This year marks the 25th anniversary of the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s Main Street Program, designed to spur revitalization of commercial districts. East Carson Street was designated a Great American Main Street by the National Trust in 1996.

“Main streets are the heart of the neighborhood,” Sturgess said.

The next significant event for the Save Our History project will be “Spotlight on Main Street,” a major community program April 30 featuring a scavenger hunt and other activities at the South Side Market House and along East Carson between 10th and 22nd streets.

Ron DaParma can be reached at or 412-320-7907.

This article appeared in the Pittsburgh Tribune Review © Pittsburgh Tribune Review

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