Bordering on the Bizarre - The Shopping Center Splits

Second in a continuing series about how our lives are shaped by the lines we draw around each other. Where exactly is your favorite place to shop? You might be surprised..


There are 130 separate municipalities in Allegheny County, dividing up the county's 735 square miles in some unique, and in some cases historic, ways.

Like those boundary lines, some of these communities are anachronisms, struggling to maintain relevance and viability amid economic and cultural upheaval. Others are thriving beyond their ability to manage the amount of people, associated traffic, and service demands that are set upon them. Some of those demands spill over into other jurisdictions, requiring changes to the relationships between existing governments, or perhaps the creation of relationships where none previously existed.  

This series is designed to illustrate and educate about some of the more interesting ways these boundary lines affect the lives and decisions of citizens, their leaders, and others who make our towns, counties, and state the place that it is - for better or for worse.

This time, I've found several examples of how shopping plazas, malls, and other similar areas challenge the assumptions we as citizens make about who has responsibility for public safety and other services.

Each illustration above provides a little insight, or links to it, into how a particular area became what it is today, and in some cases how the towns responsible for the area cooperated - or not - in the creation of these areas, and how their existence affects a community's quality of life.

There were more of these areas than I thought there would be, but it's not really surprising. In most cases, the involved towns are benefiting jointly from the revenue that their slice of particular retail pie is generating, which would kind of explain their existence in the first place.

There are also a few jurisdictional quirks unique to the Commonwealth that are near to and/or affect those who may frequent a shopping plaza. I've included some of these as well.

I focused on construction that occurred in the midst of a border line, instead of highways where development crept outward across a municipal, or even county boundary. There are plenty of examples of that (Cranberry, Peters Township, Hopewell) to go around.

Your insights are appreciated, as always. Have a great month ahead.


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Roger May 07, 2013 at 09:54 PM
Yes, Becky, we do believe they "have it all worked out." However, when we hear of major problems in coordination, at many levels, it makes us want to go, "Huh?" I think, for a simple example, the National Defense team was unable to scramble jets when they knew there was a major incident in the making on Sept 11, 2001. We sit here, thinking that "all the pieces are in place," but sometimes an event happens with a poor response, it makes me far more skeptical. Hindsight is great. But, planning for all the eventualities is often unrealistic.
William McCloskey May 08, 2013 at 01:03 PM
... another example is Edgewood Towne Centre (note the quaint spelling) which straddles Edgewood and Swissvale. If they rob the PNC Bank, it's a Swissvale issue. If they hit the Citizen's Bank in the Giant Eagle, it's Edgewood's problem. In any event, the police and firefighters in both towns have learned to cooperate very well, in large part because the shopping center requires it.
cc May 11, 2013 at 12:26 AM
Fire Works at South Hills Village is way better than any other Community Fire Works in Allegheny County, leaving out the City of Pittsburgh. Both communities shoot off their own fireworks, then they do a joint one and then the grand fanally. July 4, 2012 we watched fireworks for close to an hour. These two Communities work well together.
SLR May 11, 2013 at 11:15 AM
Hey Roger. Don't forget the original September 11. Weren't much prepared for four passenger jets flying into buildings either.
John Linko May 11, 2013 at 08:32 PM
Thanks..I'm working on a separate entry about the jurisdictional quagmire that calls itself Regent Square.


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