I was reflecting this morning on how much things change in such a short time--although I guess when you think about it, the 15-20 year period I was contemplating isn't exactly short.
Since the mid-1990's the Oakland Borough of Pittsburgh and the college scene in Pittsburgh has morphed into something completely different than it once was. In that time, three colleges have become full-fledged Universities (meaning there are few "colleges" left in the city and a lot of Universities). Oakland itself was once a thriving campus community that catered to and encouraged subcultures--everything from hippies to Goths to punks to metalheads to hipsters and more, all of them had a sort of place in Oakland.
There was Tela Ropa, the hippie heaven which pretended with a smirk to not be a head shop.
There was Avalon, a sort of retro-hipster haven, a consignment store for "vintage" clothing styles.
There was the Opera-Tunity, a thrift store for whom most of their donations came from the local Civic Light Opera company. This place was amazing--you could get full tuxedos in fantastic shape for $20 or $30.
There were a number of other vintage clothing and specialty thrift stores around.
There was the Upstage and C.J.s, bars and clubs originally for your average hard-drinking college students.
There was Club Laga, which (at least in the last couple years of its existence) catered more to the Goth and 80's-nostalgia subcultures.
There was Zelda's a bar...well, anyone who remembers Zelda's knows exactly what that place was, right down to them being full of underage kids the night they got shut down.
Then there was the Beehive. The Beehive was the place where everyone, no matter your subculture, congregated. Preppies, hippies, metalheads, punks, Goths, all of them. It was like cheers, but without alcohol. We'd spend entire days in that place, just having long, endless and deep conversations about absolutely nothing, playing card games like Hearts, Lunch Money, Spades, and the ever-hated Malcave. Many people flunked out of school because of hanging out at that place, and it was pretty glorious.
Man, do I have great memories of that place.
But they're all gone, now. The Beehive is a T-Mobile Store. The Attic is, I believe, high-end apartments. The Upstage is an IGA grocery store. C.J.s? A Dunkin' Donuts. Zelda's is a Five Guys. Any cafes that exist are corporate entities like Starbucks and Caribou.
So, so sad. But I suppose that's the way things go. I just miss the days of independent businesses and the spirit of rebellion that was expressed in lifestyle and fashion sense that just doesn't seem to be present anymore. I wonder if, some day, when things in this country get on solid ground again, that sort of thing will make a comeback. I sincerely hope it does, because I'd like to think others can have similar experiences to those I did with my group back in the day. For all the drama, there were also some absolutely great times and great memories.