Brownsville, PA a Monongahela River town known for Producing some of the First Steamboats

Brownsville was originally founded as a  British Fort securing the Monongahela River. Eventually entrepreneur Thomas Brown helped opened pass through the Cumberland Narrows and helped make Brownsville was a natural springboard for settlers traveling to points west, such as Kentucky. Eventually the settlement became known as “Brownsville” after him. A large flatboat building industry developed in Brownsville in the early 19th century. It also produced the first steamboat powerful enough to travel down the Mississippi River. In the ate 19th century Brownsville transitioned into a steel and manufacturing hub. By 1940, 8,000 people lived in Brownsville. But like many other industrial towns in Western PA the mid-1970s triggered a recession and Brownsville suffered a major decline. From a high of 8,000 residents in 1940, Brownsville has sunk to just over 2,000 residents. However this is not the worst population lost in the Pittsburgh Region. Braddock once boosted over 20,000 souls and now has 2,000.

From an urban perspective Brownsville has two hubs. The first was built up in the early to mid 1800s along Market and 4th Avenue. There is some assemblance of a main street here but not many stores lefts. A couple blocks off are some lovely maintained historic homes from this era. The larger main street was developed further down Market Street near the river. Some lovely historic buildings here, but many of them are in disrepair. Yet some retail presence remains bolstered by those who have not given up on the City. To urbanize Brownsville more investment and obviously more residents are needed. Hopefully civic leaders and businesses leaders will step in to preserve and renovate what historic and urban fabric remains in Brownsville. There is still a demand for well maintained historic homes reflected in prices in the 100Ks. 
Click here to view my Brownsville photos on Flickr

URBAN STRENGTHS:

* Lots of families living here.
* Some assemblance of urban form in the two downtown nodes. One is the original downtown from the early to mid 1800s and the other is closer to riverfront and came to life in the turn of the 20th century. 
* Some neighborhood amenities including a local drug store, cigar store, antiques, and a dwtn library and post office.

URBAN WEAKNESSES:

* Poor public transit and access to major employment center in the Pittsburgh Metro.
* High poverty city with about 1/3 below the poverty line.
* ADA and sidewalk infrastructure is a mixed bag. Some areas don’t really have them or are in terrible shape, but other portions of Brownsville have updated ADA curb cuts.
* Rental housing is very limited but cheap. Plenty of run down housing but some nice historic gems. The well maintained housing is selling in the 100ks.
* Park and recreational space is limited to a ballfield, a small wharf Park, and Dwtn plaza with an outdoor amphitheater.
* Cultural amenities limited to a couple restaurants & bars and some nice historic sites.
* Several schools more on the outskirts of the town. Not rated well.
* In fill is very limited but there is a half decent affordable housing building downtown.

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