Hostel Taking Next Step

There’s a certain kind of person who’s totally cool with hopping into a bunk with strangers sleeping nearby and then meeting them in the kitchen the next morning to abandon their stranger status.

If you’ve ever been in a hostel mood, you understand this twist on personhood.


This  article is about the latest developments in a four-year effort to bring a hostel back to the city. The last one was in a four-story former bank building on Warrington Avenue in Allentown. This one would be above several storefronts in the Southside.

I’m happy that a hostel is one step closer to happening in Pittsburgh on behalf of all the young travelers and older iconoclasts who aren’t willing to accept that a one night hotel stay could possibly cost $130.

After all these years on the neighborhood beat, I could make a darned good guess as to how the neighborhood will react to the prospect but will keep my counsel because the matter will almost surely come before the zoning board and for historic review, and I’ll be there with my little notebook trying to hear what people are saying through an inexcusably bad amplification system in what, by the way, is a public hearing room.

Hostels have always been called youth hostels because they became popular with students and post-graduates traveling with backpacks and little money back in the day. My hostel experiences include one in Boulder, Col., where we were all assigned a chore and mine was to take out the trash, and another in Lima, Peru, where we had no chores but my friend and I had to crawl around rumpled sleepers to find our bunks.

If zoning can see its way through whatever parking requirements the application might set off and if residents don’t get apoplectic by expecting the worst case scenario, there might one day be as many as 60-70 people sleeping above the Beehive, Rowdy Buck and Slacker.

Apparently, at one time, the good residents of Birmingham — the Southside’s maiden name — were treated to a whole ‘nother activity.

Here’s Tom Tripoli to share “an interesting history.”

“When I bought the property, it had really ornate wallpaper from the Victorian period and a wooden sink with a cold water pipe. I think it used to be a brothel. It’s very believable from the wallpaper, and the wooden steps are all worn out from very high foot traffic.”

Photo credit: Anne Marie Toccket, the new director of the Pittsburgh Hostel Project