WQED mobile
close menu

Polish Hill




When anyone talks about the ethnic character of Pittsburgh neighborhoods, inevitably Polish Hill becomes part of the discussion. It’s the only neighborhood that so proudly incorporates the national origin of many of its residents in its name. And while some older folks in the neighborhood will tell you that this used to be called “Herron Hill,” its steep streets, small tidy houses, and magnificent Catholic church are now all recognized as distinctive parts of this unique neighborhood with the unusual name. One of the Catholic priests who worked here, the late Father John Jendzura, was apparently instrumental in getting the city to recognize this neighborhood officially as “Polish Hill.”

Because the huge, domed church, Immaculate Heart of Mary, so dominates the landscape and does so much to preserve the ethnic character of the area, we decided Polish Hill was a perfect place to point out that houses of worship can have an important impact on neighborhoods. We talked with Father Raymond Kulwicki because he was born and raised here (he says back then local families spoke German and Polish as much as English) and because he still celebrates one Mass here every Sunday in Polish. We also talked with Father Joseph Swierczynski, the current pastor, who pointed out some of the local shops that still sell imported Polish meats, foods and other items. Especially at Christmas and Easter time, the church attracts families from all over the area who have roots in this neighborhood as well as in eastern Europe.

Click on the button to hear Father Kulwicki and Father Swierczynski talk about some of the surprises of Polish Hill.


There’s a website for the Polish Hill Civic Association . . .

and the city’s page on the neighborhood . . .

and more about ethnic neighborhoods in Pittsburgh.

Some memories of Christmas here . . .

and some history of the church.

There's a photo of the neighborhood on this virtual tour of the city.

We didn’t even mention the bars, the music and the nightlife here in what one of these reviewers calls “the armpit of Pittsburgh.”

But you may want to get up early for Mass.

featured specials

featured specials

Clubs, FAQ, Awards


Other Links

featured specials

WQED is proud to partner with Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield to cover important health topics. "Living With Mental Illness" explores diagnosis, treatment and ending the stigma associated with behavioral health issues. The "Men & Cancer" and "Women & Cancer" series reports on early detection and the latest treatment of cancers most commonly associated with men and women.


  • WQED first told her story in "Portraits for the Home Front." Now the legacy of Elizabeth Black continues in a new documentary.