Steelers' Chairman Dan Rooney spent almost his entire life living on Pittsburgh's North Side, and on Tuesday he was honored for the countless contributions he has made to the area with a Lifetime Achievement Award from the North Side/North Shore Chamber of Commerce.
Rooney, who received the award at a luncheon at Heinz Field, was born on the North Side and attended St. Peter's Elementary School and North Catholic High School. He lived there through college, before moving to suburban Mt. Lebanon for a time to raise his children, but then returning to his family home where he lives today.
"It really is a special thing to get the lifetime achievement award," said Rooney. "I have been involved on the North Side my entire life. I was born and raised there.
"The North Side was always special because of the people. They were regular people. Where we lived growing up there was a combination of all kinds of people, different religions, races and nationalities. It was interesting. It was a special place and I have always felt comfortable being there."
Rooney played a major role in the development of the North Shore area, including the building of Heinz Field and PNC Park, and rejuvenating the North Side as a whole.
"That is a great thing the way it is coming back," said Rooney. "The North Shore is spectacular with two stadiums and the other developments, hotels, business and restaurants. But the entire North Side is coming back. West Park, which they call the commons, is a key. That park went back to the early days of Allegheny City. That property was given to the city. It was always a great place for people to go. The lake would freeze and we would go there and ice skate, swim in the summer time there. It's always been a great place to go.
"The North Side is coming back. There is so much development further out in the north and with the roads developed it's helping the North Side."
Rooney is excited about what is still ahead for the North Side. He envisions further development and revitalization in the entire area, and is enjoying the growth of what is basically in his own backyard.
"It's terrific to see what is happening, to see the people out and about," said Rooney. "You walk down the street and see everyone, people even still going to Gus's Ice Ball Stand in the park. I spent a lot of time in the park playing football and other sports. It was a good time.
"The future of the North Side is bright. It's so handy. It's right across the river. It's great land. It's going to come back in a lot of different ways."* *