Braddock, PA- Pittsburgh’s Rustbelt Poster Child

Braddock is named after General Edward Braddock who led am Expedition in Western PA at this place. The area surrounding Braddock’s Field was originally inhabited by the Lenape, ruled by Queen Aliquippa (a  friend of George Washington). Nearby in Turtle Creek, the first permanent English settlement was established west of the Allegheny Mountains In 1742.  Braddock’s first industrial facility, a barrel plant, opened in 1850 and the borough incorporated in 1867. The town’s industrial economy began in 1873, when Andrew Carnegie built the Edgar Thomson Steel Works on the historic site of Braddock’s Field. Braddock is also the location of Carnegie’s first public library. Braddock lost its importance with the collapse of the steel industry in the United States in the 1970s and 1980s and was brought to its knees by the crack cocaine epidemic of the early 1980s.

Braddock is the most extreme case of industrial decline in Pittsburgh, which is probably why it’s the poster child for the rust-belt in Pittsburgh. The town reached a population high of 21,000 in 1920s and  now hosts  just over 2,000 souls. Population decline significantly picked up after WWII. Yet Braddock still has good bones with a comfortable street grid, high quality public transit, and good access to downtown. The recent Braddock “resurgence” shepherded by former mayor John Fetterman and restaurateur Kevin Sousa have returned Braddock to the spotlight and helped spur a mini resurgence with new restaurants, bars, cafes, vintage shops and interest for local non-profits. But Braddock really needs people to return, and in the thousands, for this to once again be a viable urban district.
Click here to view my Braddock album on Flickr

URBAN STRENGTHS

* Great generational diversity.
* Solid public transit access and very connected street grid. Braddock has the bones of a highly walk-able community.
* Braddock’s resurgence is being led by several new restaurants, bars, cafes, and breweries. Braddock has gained regional attention by several well know restaurateurs, local foundations, and community groups. But still a very long way to go. This resurgence is also attracting hip clothing, and vintage antique and restoration stores augmenting the remaining wholesaling stores, dollar store, beautiful Carnegie library, and post office.
* Good amount of tree canopy.

URBAN WEAKNESSES

* Very high poverty (30%) and some racial diversity.
* Very depressed for-sale market. Very little sells above 50K. Not a ton of rental product but very affordable. 2-bedrooms generally go for between $700-$800.
* Very limited parks space with Braddock, the only “official park” is the Verona Street Park.
* No supermarket or drug stores. The nearest hospital is a 10 min drive in McKeesport.
* Only two schools within Braddock and poorly rated.
* Sidewalks and curb cuts are common but in rough shape. Very few ADA compliant curbs. 

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