Halfway up the hill, between where Pittsburgh's jazz scene would soon grow and where industry lined the river, there perched a little neighborhood. Today, some call it the Bluff, while others say it's part of South Oakland; most ignore the small street as they pass it, and precious few truly wonder to what community it may belong. It very nearly does not exist, so it might be more apt to ask whether it should still be known as a street at all.
Once laid in gray brick, next covered in a layer of asphalt, and then finally with debris and Pennsylvania's verdant underbrush, Benham Street feels isolated. Only one structure, built in 1912, still stands today ... a brick end of a row of homes that fell into disuse, disrepair, then to rubble, and finally to nothing at all, not even memory.
Benham Street is not alone in lacking an "identity." The area itself, anchored neither to the defiant hilltop above nor the neighbors to the left and right, has a limited number of residents to give it character of its own. There once was a school upon the nearby main street. Built in 1870 to serve a burgeoning population, when the people went, it did too: it was closed and destroyed in 1958. Only the former "Public Baths" building still exists today, though it no longer serves that purpose. It stands next door to a business which sells tombstones.
Even the most recent PDFs showing structures in the area are no longer accurate. Several buildings have recently been razed in the name of "improvement," and there are rumors flying about of planting gardens. Such areas may not be quite the same as houses in which people go about their lives as best they know how, but it would be a certain step above the stairwells leading to nowhere and the broken pavement, which has no one to want its repair, being slowly eaten by plants.
Poorly Formatted Sources
The historic images and information on the fate of Soho School was retrieved from Historic Pittsburgh on September 16th, 2007.
The maps from 1959 and 1923 were retrieved from Historic Pittsburgh Maps on September 16th, 2007.
The map from 1984 was retrieved from the City of Pittsburgh website at http://www.city.pittsburgh.pa.us on September 18th, 2007.
Though two of the maps show topography, none indicate the actual surface of the road. I merely aligned them with text as closely as possible with my rough guess as to when those surfaces might have been in use.