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Author Topic: Ames #1131, Penn Hills (PA) Shopping Center  (Read 290 times)
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« on: August 09, 2017, 02:12:56 PM »

As the store number indicates, this was a former Hills location.  Located in a shopping center at the intersection of Frankstown and Rodi Roads in Penn Hills, an eastern suburb of Pittsburgh, this was an unusually large Ames store.  I think it may have been the last Ames in which I ever did any shopping.  I remember that unlike just about every other former Hills it did not have a snack bar.  Instead that lobby space had been leased to a Fish and Chips vendor.

My older daughter was 11 at the time, and was enrolled in Saturday morning violin lessons at Peabody High School (the alma mater of Gene Kelly and Frank Gorshin).  Peabody was in East Liberty, which at the time was a very rough part of town.  Today, thanks to Google and Uber, who moved in and set up software development centers there, it has gentrified rapidly, and is now one of the "cool" neighborhoods where everyone in Pittsburgh wants to live.  It was clear across town from where I lived, and if you have ever driven in Pittsburgh you know that the rugged terrain, which compels you to utilize bridges and tunnels, can make for a long, painful drive. 

So I would drop her at her lessons and then start looking for a place to kill a few hours, since driving back home was impractical.  If the weather was nice I'd go to Highland Park, near the Pittsburgh Zoo, and walk laps around the reservoir.  But once the weather turned I started looking for a place to hang out indoors.  And being just a few miles to the east, the Penn Hills Shopping Center was a logical destination.

I am guessing this store might have been as large as 100,000 sq. ft.  Seemed unusually large compared to any other Ames where I had shopped or worked.  I would bring my younger daughter, and really got a kick out of watching her steer the cart enthusiastically through the aisles.  I recall a very pleasant Christmas shopping visit, which was probably my last.  This would have been in late 2001.  Ames would not make it through another Christmas. 

Next door to Ames was a very good Chinese restaurant.  And next to that, a lingerie store that was very well known throughout the area.  Wink  There was also a Big Lots, a beer distributor, post office, and several other shops, with a freestanding Wendy's location in the parking lot.

Peabody High School has since closed, and Penn Hills has become a more dangerous place.
When East Liberty started to gentrify thanks to Google and Uber, the criminal element could
no longer afford the rent there.  So they moved out....mostly to Penn Hills, apparently.

I believe Aldi has taken over at least part of the former Ames space.

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