The East End was a term once used to describe a collection of city neighborhoods in the eastern section of Pittsburgh, including East Liberty, Highland Park, Morningside, and Stanton Heights, as well as parts of neighboring Bloomfield, Garfield, and Friendship.As used today, the term “East End” often refers to a much larger section bounded by the Allegheny River, the Monongahela River, the Hill District, and the eastern city limits.
The East End developed through the 19th century with the introduction of the East Liberty Station of the Pennsylvania Railroad in the 1850s and annexation of the entire area into the city of Pittsburgh in 1868. With the opening of Bigelow Boulevard (originally Grant Boulevard) in 1901, many people began leaving the city center for the East End and the northern half of Squirrel Hill, including many Jewish families. Rodef Shalom Congregation relocated its downtown synagogue to Fifth Avenue in Shadyside in 1907. A group in East Liberty began meeting for communal worship as early as 1908 and chartered B’nai Israel Congregation in 1911. B’nai Israel occupied several temporary meeting places throughout the neighborhood until 1912, when it began a long-term residency within the Masonic Temple on Collins Avenue.
The growth of the Jewish population of the East End in the 1910s inevitably brought a diversity of religious practices. A group of younger and more Orthodox members left B’nai Israel in 1915 to form the Montefiore Hebrew Congregation. The faction rejoined B’nai Israel in early 1916 but split permanently in 1917 with the formation of Adath Jeshurun Congregation. Over the next decade, B’nai Israel affiliated with the Conservative movement, while Adath Jeshurun remained an Orthodox congregation.
Jewish communal infrastructure in the East End expanded through the 1920s. B’nai Israel dedicated a synagogue at 327 N. Negley Ave. (Henry Hornbostle with Sharove and Friedman, architects) in 1923, and Adath Jeshurun dedicated a synagogue nearby at Margaretta and St. Clair streets (Ralph J. Friedberg, architect) the same year. Adath Jeshurun subsequently became known colloquially as the Margaretta Street Shul. The Shapiro family established Torath Chaim Congregation in 1927 in a house at 728 N. Negley Ave. Congregation Tanchem Zewi was chartered in 1932 by several Hungarian families with connections to McKeesport but was short-lived. Aves Achim Congregation operated in nearby Bloomfield throughout most of the 1920s but closed following the death of its leader Ruben Shapira.
In the late 1930s, the East End became the second largest Jewish population center in Pittsburgh after Squirrel Hill. The growth came largely from the outmigration of Jewish families from the Hill District, followed by the relocation of three congregations with strong ethnic identities: Beth Mogen David Congregation (Russian) moved to 825 Highview St. in the 1940s, Cneseth Israel Congregation (Romanian) moved to 1112 N. Negley Ave. in 1946, and Machsikei Hadas Congregation (Galitzianer) moved to 814 N. Negley in 1953. The existing congregations also expanded. Torath Chaim renovated its synagogue in 1931 and expanded its building in 1948. B’nai Israel added a social hall wing (Alexander Sharove, architect) in the mid-1950s. Adath Jeshurun expanded and remodeled its synagogue in 1958 and renovated the building again throughout the 1970s.
The Jewish population of the East End continued to grow through the 1960s but stalled in the 1970s and then began to decline. Beth Mogen David dissolved soon after the death of its spiritual leader Rabbi Abraham B. Zilberberg in 1962. Cneseth Israel merged into Adath Jeshurun in 1978. Machsikei Hadas closed in 1986. B’nai Israel merged with Beth Jacob Congregation of New Kensington in 1995 to become Adat Shalom in Cheswick, Pa. Adath Jeshurun relocated to Monroeville in early 1996. Torath Chaim closed in 2004.
|As used today, the term “East End” often refers to a much larger section bounded by the Allegheny River, the Monongahela River, the Hill District, and the eastern city limits.