through the cracked concrete

I noticed the cluster of violets in the corner of my neighbor’s front steps. They rose proud and defiant through the old, cracked concrete of the North Taylor sidewalk. The sidewalks are the home-owner’s responsibility and the results are a patchwork of new-and-old, brick-and-concrete slabs. The hodgepodge is proof that we are not a cookie-cutter suburban plan, even though when the area was first developed it certainly was a new, non-city housing development.

The Mexican War Streets, originally known as the Buena Vista Tract, is an area on Pittsburgh’s northside, filled with restored row houses, tree-lined streets and alleyways. The neighborhood dates to around the time of the Mexican–American War – 1846.

In the 1970’s, as a means of kicking off the gentrification process, community leaders and promoters planted trees in front of the historical houses; this meant breaking the sidewalks to create plots for the new trees. And once the cement was broken, the remaining slabs started to crack and chip. The results are what we have today – old cement that is broken, cracked and covered in thin layers of mildew.