Strip District Doors

dscn7368Last year, I mentioned Pittsburgh’s Strip District in a guest post on a series called “Walking with Intention.” I republished that post here on my blog but I left the Strip District as a back story. I talked about the Strip again in a post after Faith and I visited Pittsburgh in 2014, but, since I had not yet contracted Canadian-Door-Fever, I wasn’t interested in taking photos of doors.

Canadian-Door-Fever is also known as Norm Frampton’s Thursday Doors. Each week, Norm gives us the opportunity to find, photograph, publish and share photos of interesting doors. If you want to join us, you need to visit Norm’s blog, look at Norm’s doors. Well, you don’t have to look at Norm’s doors, but it would be the polite thing to do. Click on the blue frog thingie and arrive at the land of doors.

In early November, Faith and I were back in Pittsburgh for another weekend of sports. As we did in 2014, we decided to visit the Strip District, but this time we were on a mission. Well, dual missions. I wanted to get some door photos. Faith wanted pierogis and potato pancakes from S&D Polish Deli.

Ever since the early 1800s, the area of Pittsburgh known today as the Strip District has been an important part of the Pittsburgh economy. Once home to mills and foundries, the Strip evolved into a warehouse district and wholesale distribution center. There have always been a few retail-ish stores in the Strip. I added the “ish” because these stores have never been for the faint of heart. You generally had to know what you wanted before entering and, long before warehouse clubs were a thing, you needed to be prepared to purchase a larger than retail quantity of that stuff you wanted. Today, the Strip is a tourist destination, with a side of groceries.

Stamoolis Brothers is a grocer in the Strip that features food, snacks and ingredients used in Greek and other ethnic cuisines. My favorite childhood memory of Stamoolis was walking out with a 5-pound bag of Pistachios. At that time, it was common to find the somewhat little red pistachios, in grocery stores. Stamoolis carried the “jumbo” white variety. The kind you could almost always break apart with your little-kid fingers.

Right next to Stamoolis Bros. is Penn Mac a.k.a. The Pennsylvania Macaroni Company, where you can buy cheese and everything you need to wrap around cheese, put under cheese, coat with cheese, serve alongside cheese and eat after having eaten cheese. You can probably get macaroni there too. My wife buys from Penn Mac, which will put meat and cheese in a cooler, along with a few pounds of dry ice and ship it anywhere on the planet.

A little farther down the Strip is the deli Faith was looking for. More meats and cheeses on sale, but tucked away closer to the back of the store is a window through which you can order food. This isn’t fast food. This is “that’ll be about 15 minutes” food, but it’s worth every minute.

The first gallery is full of doors and photos from the Strip. Please understand that I have pared the list of photos down to as few as I can while still preserving the essence of our visit. This will result in a “Random Pittsburgh Doors” post on some future Thursday, but I didn’t want to break a record for photos in a doors post. Also, note that there is a second gallery today containing food. Food that was on sale, food that was purchased and food that was eaten. That gallery is there because, if I didn’t include it, someone would say “Dan, you can’t talk about food without sharing some photos!” You are under no obligation to look.

I’ll stop talking now. Click on any photo in either gallery to start a slide show of that gallery. The descriptions will be late, because of Internet issues.

Thanks for looking around today!

 

79 thoughts on “Strip District Doors

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  1. I love your description of the Strip, Dan. It kind of reminds me of childhood places of my own. There was always a Greek shop with Baklava in the neighbourhood. As I read your post I could imagine Norman Rockwell painting scenes out of your description.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Don. It’s so cool to be able to take my daughter to see a still-vibrant area, instead of saying “this is where such and such used to be…” You can almost feel the history as you walk through that area.

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  2. You had me at cheese.

    … And the two big metal doors – the red one and the following brown one – look like access to huge walk-in coolers or freezers. They remind me of the doors on the cooler and freezer in my dad’s store when I was a kid. Damn – I wish I had photos of those doors!!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Actually Dan, now that I think about it, it was really cool. I have memories of playing hide-and-seek with my younger sister downstairs in the basement amid all the racks of canned goods, cereal boxes, and paper products.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Good connection Kate! Today, we complain about have to spend 6 hours flying to Portland. It took those guys over two years! Ethnic food was in very short supply when I lived in Seattle. We couldn’t even find good pizza! Good Asian food, but nothing from “the old country” as everybody’s grandmother said in Pittsburgh when I was a kid.

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  3. A church that managed to turn into a bar? That’s progress for you. :) And the warehouse with the red doors – is it just me, or does it look like a railway platform?

    I have to admit that I am generally more interested in what surrounds the doors than the doors themselves.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You have a good eye, Val. Those warehouses were originally all on a rail line. It wasn’t until after WWII that transportation began to favor trucks over trains. Almost all of the buildings in this area date to before WWII.

      The location of the Strip, near what has historically been a large low income neighborhood (known as the Hill District) probably made it easy to support large churches in the early to mid-1900s. Today, it’s a bar, but at least the building survives.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I was very interested in your doors, Dan, until I got to the food. The wonderful, glorious, yummy food! I would love to have that plate of potato pancakes, cabbage and noodles and pierogis sitting right in front of me. I can see why Faith was insistent on stopping at S&D and I bet she didn’t have to twist your arm too hard.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. She didn’t have to twist my arm at all, Mary. But she did rush me through some photos with mild complaints of “I’m hungry and I want potato pancakes…” The hard part was watching her eat. I took my lunch (and lunch for my brother) back to the hotel. AND, don’t ask me why, I didn’t get potato pancakes :(

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Oh, cheese…do not ever leave me. My mom’s side of the family was from Poland so I grew up on all that Polish food–such good, filling stuff. Pretty cool doors, Dan. I especially like that door up high…knock, knock, knockin’ on heaven’s door.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Oh, nothing like wonderful ethnic food stores! When we lived in the Cleveland area, we had a great Italian store not far from us and when we went into Cleveland, we’d often stop at a great Middle East bakery. There was also a large Polish community. This part of Pittsburgh is definitely somewhere I’d love to visit if we get back there again some time.

    janet

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Janet. It’s a pretty cool place. Lots of small bakeries and coffee shops as well as more that a few bars and places selling every team gear imaginable. All black and gold, but… Our hotel actually had a free shuttle into the Strip, but my daughter and I prefer to walk along the river.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I did not, John. I’ve eaten there in the past but I don’t stop with my daughter, who is a vegetarian. However, I have always and still do put fries on sandwiches (including McDonald’s fish and cheeseburgers). I get weird looks up here in New England, but it’s the way it should be done.

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  7. I’m on sensory overload here. I was busy with oohing and aching over the doors – really like the green one by the way. Then I was captivated by the variety of cheeses and the food photos. But, then my pulse quickened with the history lesson about Lewis and Clark. Triple header this week, Dan. :-)

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    1. Thanks Judy. I wasn’t sure whether to include Lewis & Clark or try to circle back, but I have so many door and non-door posts from that trip that I’m going to sound like the Pittsburgh Tourism Board if I don’t combine a few things. I think that door is “Heinz Pickle Green” – Sorry if the food pics made you hungry.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Mmmm, you had me at “pierogis and potato pancakes” Dan.
    That cheese shop looks interesting but for my money any church converted/saved and still used as a public space is a good thing. This isn’t The Church Brew Works is it? I went there when I was in Pittsburgh in 2014 – pretty cool place.
    Great post :-)

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks Norm. It’s hard to miss with Polish food and church doors, even if they’re on a bar. This is not the brewery. That is across the river, on the north side, but only about a mile or so away. I’m just so glad they didn’t tear the building down or “modernize” it.

      Liked by 2 people

  9. I want to go to Pennsylvania Macaroni Company and S&D’s! Great doors, and restaurant visits today Dan! I’m so ready for Potato pancakes and pierogis now! He-Man’s Mom made really delicious pierogis. When she was still making them she would pack them in dry ice and mail us a batch for the Holidays along with her Polish cookies. They were sort of like a puffed pastry on the outside with brown sugar and finely chopped pecans in the filling. Pretty yummy. I miss her and her cooking!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Deborah. I remember cookies exactly like that from my childhood. Now I want some. Penn Mac will ship to CA, but since the shipping is expensive, they advise you to “buy a bunch of food” which is good advice in my book. Potato pancakes vary so much with who’s making them, but these are really good. I like my wife’s stuffed cabbage better, and she has been known to make a pretty good pierogi, but I could eat almost anything served in that deli.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I wondered if anyone would go that route, Jan. This was Pittsburgh, not New Orleans :)

      The name, apparently, stems from the fact that the entire area (when it was active warehouses) was a narrow strip of land about 1.5 miles long but only 3 blocks wide. Smallman St, Penn Ave an Liberty Ave make up the entire strip, and those three streets are pretty close together.

      Thanks Jan!

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Those are great doors! Lots of groovy industrial looking doors.
    Two suns are fantastic, but sound hot. lol
    I’m tryin to figure out why I don’t have a 5lb bag o pistachios or where I can get hot Polish lunch and I’m hungry enough to walk into either of those usta-be-churches! No one ever makes me pierogi!
    LOVE that red door on the Penn Mac! I need to get all up in there…perhaps online. :)

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Funny you’d share pics of pierogi today, Dan — that’s what I had for dinner last night! Both of my mom’s parents were born in Russia and my grandfather was Polish, so my grandma would make pierogi by the DOZENS. They’re one of the few foods that last incredibly well in the freezer. (Though you couldn’t pay me to eat those frozen sawdust-stuffed ones you find at the grocery store. :P) I don’t remember my mom ever making them, but I certainly still grew up eating grandma’s. And I’ve been making them myself for a few years now. A bit tedious but totally worth the effort. I don’t have many regrets in life, but one of them is that I never got to make pierogi for my grandma. Yours look a tad naked without bacon, onions and sour cream smothered on them, but I bet they were still delicious!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. She was like a little whirlwind in the kitchen, Dan! And yes… it’s almost like we slipped into… the Twilight Zone….. :-o

        Annnnd now I have this image in my head of Rod Serling standing in a dark room with a cigarette in one hand, a plate of pierogi in the other, and he says “Pierogi?” with that crooked little smile! Lol!

        Liked by 1 person

        1. The latest transformation began (I think) in the late 90s, but I don’t know when it became a destination. I first took my daughter there in 2009 and it was pretty much like it is today, although some store have changed and more warehouses have been made into apartments on the other streets.

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          1. It was an overnight stop. The kids were very young and yet remember that we ate in a restaurant where the waiter who took care of us was from Russia and totally in love with French music. He kept talking and talking while refilling their glasses with lemonade. For the first time ever they had to say “enough, thank you.” It was unreal to be in the heart of Pennsylvania and listen to this Francophile guy. All the way from Russia. In the morning, I remember seeing women going to work wearing white sneakers and carrying their heels in a plastic bag. I hadn’t seen that since my first trip in New York City in 1986. I love these trips which show the real life in places people rarely visit. Thank you for all the info, Dan. And the doors!

            Liked by 1 person

  12. 😱I’m scrolling and scrolling…..WHERE’S the cheeeeeese? All those descriptives about the cheese and I can’t find it. The Yuengling is comforting though. That food looked good too. This area reminds me a lot of the Lincoln and Omaha Haymarket districts. I hope I remember to take photos of some doors when I make my next visit. I’m usually so consumed with the guys and the grandchildren. Great doors and photos Dan! PS hubby loves pistachios although he hasn’t sat and munched any in ages. Says they are old stale or old when he gets them from the grocery store.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m sorry that I didn’t have more pictures of cheese. That part of the store was very busy. I haven’t had pistachios from here in a long long time. I’m going to assume they aren’t stale :)

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  13. Loved the post and the pictures. On seeing the title I thought if you are referring to the Las Vegas Strip, but on seeing the images I realized I was wrong. Dry fruits are everywhere in India. We also gift dry fruits on festivals and special events. Goa is quite popular for its cashew nuts, just fyi.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I think similarly when I take pictures. Imagine in a crowded country like India keeping people out of your frame. Many a times when Sarah is taking my picture in a public place a lot of people walk in between to ruin the image so I have tell Sarah to do it quickly because she takes a lot of time to set up and ensure the image has the perfect light and angle and so on. I don’t like that because I see these million faces looking at me as they pass by and it makes me feel awkward. This is one of the topics where sparks fly between me and Sarah. :)

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  14. How the heck do you expect me to comment on this post? Doors? Ya I’d say so! Did anyone see the red plastic cup next to one of the doors? I did! And the one with all those latches? Good grief that one reminded me of an old fashion girdle having so many latches. Tee hee ….. You are getting me hooked on doors, Dan, because now when I go somewhere guess what I look at? Yep, doors! Fantastic post! I went into each gallery and really took my time in looking at each photo. I read the sign about opening the West. Truly wonderful post. Wow!! And the food gallery! Here I am just having eaten dinner and my mouth is watering. Whoa!! LOL

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Amy! I try to include enough doors to make it Thursday Doors worthy, but there is so much going on in this neighborhood. I have to go look for that cup. And, I get hungry every time I think about this post. Pittsburgh and food are forever together in my head. Thanks for the visit & comment.

      Liked by 1 person

  15. Dan – I’m going to use this post as s guide for the next time I go thru Pittsburg !
    Especially the polish deli – even if only that deli. !
    And you are right – it is a courtesy to show food pics after such talk.
    Oh and the first door has a “y” on it…. yeah to that

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ha! I guess you don’t see many ‘Y’s in photos. The deli is worth a stop, even if it’s the only thing you do. I mean, you could always buy a Steeler shirt, but I can understand if you skip that part. Just make sure you’re hungry.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Well I hate that I always have pictures to come back and show you – but I was on the outskirts of PA and did take a quick shot of “black and gold” store
        ( I almost write black and yellow because of the hip hop black and yellow song – do you know it? )

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