This slideshow requires JavaScript.

This project has changed my outlook on Pittsburgh and its past, absolving me of my ability to take the city around me for granted.  By researching the cultures and communities that shaped the world around me, my outlook has now been changed.  The imprints of millions of lives are left around the area, and the fascinating stories of those who came before us helped me gain a greater appreciation of the triumphs and struggles of the common human story.

For their invaluable help and support, not to mention transportation, I would like to thank my mother and father.  I would also like to thank Mr. Don Belt, Mr. Paul Salopek, and Dr. Liz Duraisingh for their support and interest in my project, for which I am greatly honored.  Finally, I would like to thank my friends and teachers who reviewed my work and helped me through the brainstorming and editing processes.  I could not have written this blog alone.

-David Han


German Immigration: Push and Pull Factors

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I walk a Pittsburgh street studded with plaques commemorating the German immigrants who first settled here, finally arriving at the historic Priory hotel, formerly a home for Benedictine priests and Brothers (“Priory Hotel History”).

The German immigrants who worshipped here arrived in their greatest numbers in the 1880s. In this decade, almost 1.5 million emigrated to the United States, seeking better lives and new opportunities (“The Germans in America”). Catholic immigrants, especially priests like those in the Priory, fled Bismark’s Kulturkampf, in which the Catholic Church and the Prussian State fought for influence and control. The German 1878 -1890 Anti-Socialist law forced many Democratic and Socialist activists to emigrate to American cities, hoping to campaign in an environment more conducive to free speech. Finally, many German minority immigrants fled to America to escape the horrors of the Holocaust in the 1935- 1945 era (Adams, Willi Paul).

The many German immigrants who are commemorated with the plaques along Pittsburgh’s Lockhart Street left their homes for a multitude of reasons, propelled by the desire for a better life. They sought to gain religious and intellectual freedom, finding a dearth of such liberties under the regimes of Bismarck and Hitler (Addams, Willi Paul). Another motivational factor in this great migration was economic prosperity, as America’s industries surpassed those of Germany and offered a chance at greater riches (“Waves of German Immigrants”)

As I walk through the ornate hallways of the Priory Hotel, I appreciate the beautiful architecture and array of historic artifacts lining the walls. The building itself, repurposed as a hotel in 1888, still maintains strong ties with its rich history (“Priory Hotel History.”). Framed maps, blueprints, and photographs provide physical testimony to the changes wrought in Pittsburgh society by arriving immigrants. Building this edifice was, for many, a fulfillment of the American Dream.

1- “Priory Hotel History.” The Historic Priory Hotel in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania. The Priory Hotel, n.d. Web. 29 Mar. 2014.

2- “The Germans in America.” Chronology : (European Reading Room, Library of Congress). The Library of Congress, 21 Sept. 2010. Web. 30 Mar. 2014.

3- Adams, Willi Paul, Lavern J. Rippley, and Eberhard Reichmann. “The German-Americans-Chapter Two.” The German-Americans: An Ethnic Experience. Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, n.d. Web. 03 Apr. 2014.

4- “Waves of German Immigrants.” Immigration Library. The Advocates for Human Rights, 2011. Web. 04 Apr. 2014.

General Introduction

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Hello world!  My name is David Han, and I am currently a student at Fox Chapel High School, researching the diverse stories and common backgrounds of immigrants in 1877-1945 era Pittsburgh.  I hope to emulate the endeavors of Paul Salopek’s Out of Eden Walk, connecting the human migration in my area with global movement on a larger scale.  My own walk will lead me through four ethnic neighborhoods of Pittsburgh, where I will photograph historical landmarks, research and sample cuisine, and connect modern cultural aspects with the past.  I will visit Deutschtown, Polish Hill, Little Italy, and Squirrel Hill, learning firsthand about the lives of German, Polish, Italian, and European Jewish immigrants.  Near the end of my journey, I will create a graphic representation of their respective countries of origin and the arduous path to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  Thank you for joining me on this adventure!

Image Source: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/9/93/Pittsburgh_Fowler_1902.png