WHAT IT WANTS TO BE: Neville Island

2021, Work in Progress

Fewer than 10 miles from downtown Pittsburgh along the banks of the Ohio River lies Neville Island, a flat expanse and drive-through point for those traveling along interstate 79 across the river. 

Originally an agricultural center of the city, the island fell to industrial fever at the turn of the 20th century and with visions of becoming Pittsburgh's Manhattan, built up simultaneously residential lots and sprawling industrial mills. The ambitious development plan never came to fruition, though, and the island has remained much as it was since WWI, barring several attempted revitalization efforts. 

Grand Avenue is the spine of Neville Island, running along its center, with 'ribs' jutting out from its center, forming Neville Island's neighborhood streets. You are just as likely to come across an 18-wheeler on Grand than you are a family sedan. 

The people of Neville Island are loyally close-knit, with multiple branches of families residing in neighborhoods together over several generations. As one resident told me, "Everybody knows everyone here. No need to lock my doors, because my neighbors are all looking out for me."

Yet walking along the island you would be hard pressed to find anyone at all to talk to, as you instead discover a place with a seemingly half developed identity. College kids play beer games in backyards alongside quiet industrial mills. There are empty docks along the river and the playgrounds are overrun by geese.

This project examines my impressions of Neville Island in the 21st century on the precipice of revitalization, an amalgamy of status and influences, trying to figure out what it wants to be. 

Click the arrows to advance gallery below. 


Pamela is a documentary photographer and artist based in Pittsburgh, PA, USA. 

She is committed to amplifying suppressed voices with story, and handing women photographic tools to journal their own lives.

Meet Pamela here.

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