City of Asylum screenshot from the video for NEXTpittsburgh by Liz Barentine

Until just months ago the building was vacant, and had been since the mid-’90s. Today, Alphabet City, at 40 W. North Ave. on the North Side, is one of Pittsburgh’s most eclectic spaces.

The building is home to City of Asylum, an organization whose core mission “has to do with voices that need to be heard and that are suppressed in one way or another,” says artist Diane Samuels, who co-founded it with her husband, Henry Reese. City of Asylum provides sanctuary for exiled writers from all over the world.

But that’s just the beginning of what you’ll find here. It also houses a bookstore, performance space, apartments and a restaurant, Casellulaan impressive space in its own right that specializes in cheese and cheese pairings.

This beautiful and multi-faceted space is “a community for readers, writers and neighbors,” says Reese. See the video above, produced by Liz Barentine, for a virtual tour of this unique gem in Pittsburgh.

NEXT staff

The staff at NEXTpittsburgh writes about the people driving change in the region and the innovative and cool things happening here.