Carnegie, Pennsylvania is home to two neighboring orthodox churches. One is St. Peter and St. Paul Ukrainian Orthodox Church, and the other is Friends of the Holy Virgin Russian Orthodox Church. This church was founded at the beginning of the twentieth century when many Eastern European immigrants were moving to the Pittsburgh area. There were many industries in Carnegie that attracted these immigrants to the area, such as coal mining, railroad work, glass mills, and steel mills. With many immigrants not speaking English, there was a great desire for community among themselves. As different churches were established, factions broke off as people realized their ties among themselves with others of the same nationality as themselves. Thus is the loose beginning of both St. Peter and St. Paul and Holy Virgin churches. Both were created in the first few years of the twentieth century, and both remain in operation today to members of the community.
Carnegie gets its name from none other than Andrew Carnegie himself. Carnegie was, of course, one of the largest benefactors to the architecture, culture, and even education of Pittsburgh. Carnegie began as two separate boroughs which merged into one at the end of the nineteenth century. The name “Carnegie” was adopted not as a result of the gifts that Andrew Carnegie had given to the community, but rather it was a precursor to Carnegie’s donations in an effort to get him to support two community structures. One was Carnegie High School, now named Carlynton High School as a conglomeration of the names of the communities it represents, and the other was the Andrew Carnegie Free Library and Music Hall, one of the first of thousands of libraries that Carnegie funded throughout the world. This institution is today a central part of the community of Carnegie and it operates as a library and music hall and contains a lecture hall, gymnasium, and Civil War Room.
The town is surrounded by many residential communities and thus it used to be a central location for these residents. Before the steel and coal mining came to town, Carnegie was a farming and whiskey-producing community. Carnegie’s location in the Pittsburgh metropolitan area is convenient due to its proximity to the city, and its easy accessibility to interstate highways 79 and 376, as well as PA route 50. This makes it a convenient location to live, as the commute to downtown Pittsburgh is no more than a few miles down the road. Carnegie is south west of downtown Pittsburgh and Chartiers Creek runs through the town. In 2004, Carnegie suffered from flooding as a result of Hurricane Ivan. The flood caused significant damage to the town and the buildings, closing down many shops and businesses. The town has since worked to recover from this damage.
Carnegie’s Main Street is lined with a variety of businesses. From specialty shops, to florists, to local eateries, to offices, to churches, Carnegie has much to offer, and its main road is also a sight to see. Lined with trees, teal colored meters and lampposts and many murals, the color and life brought about by these additions counteracts the infrastructure of the buildings which have obviously withstood the test of time. The store displays are lively and inviting, and are a testament to the life within. Its eating establishments range from pizzerias, pubs, diners, Italian eateries, and Asian cuisine, to name a few. One of the more recent businesses to come into town is Carnegie Coffee Company, a coffee shop selling coffee classics and specialty drinks, as well as pastries, baked goods, and a variety of sandwiches. Its décor is modern and simplistic and lounge chairs and bookshelves filled with books welcome patrons into this high-ceilinged building. The atmosphere is light and airy, the color palette is subdued, and the reasonable prices are sure to please.
The relatively small community of 3000 people maintains many community events. From the holiday Light-up Night, to a fundraising 5K to benefit the Volunteer Fire Department, there are many activities to get involved with and connect with others in the area. The town also has 3 parks, one of which is a borough park, the other two are located in the neighborhoods. The murals are also a reminder of the community in Carnegie. One such mural, painted by Bill Borcik and Karen Mahoney, shows many recognizable features of the town, such as the standing clock on the street outside the Carnegie Coffee Company, the orthodox churches, the railroad, and other significant items and people that represent the town, including Honus Wagner, a baseball player from Carnegie. Another mural represents the recovery after the flooding. Entitled Rebirth, this depiction of a large blue phoenix spreading his wings along the main street of Carnegie gives a message of hope and the ability to recover from adversity to all who see it.
By Michelle Shimrock