Butler, PA Historic Producer of the Pullman Steel Rail Cars

It’s hard to define the exact limits of Dwtn Butler. I included areas that were mostly commercial in character with some residential only areas. I used Washington and Franklin Street as the western and eastern borders, respectively. Penn St as the northern border and the railroad as the southern.  By 1817, the community was incorporated as a borough with the first settlers being Irish or Scottish descent. In its heyday, the city of Butler was another steel producing hub in Western PA remains home to an AK Steel factory. In the early 20th century the City produced  all-steel rail cars for Pullman-Standard.

Downtown Butler’s strength is it mostly in-tact 10 block historic main street and county court house. Lots of great shops fill these historic buildings. There are all a fair amount of cultural amenities with a unique art museum dedicated to Chinese & Japanese art, historic house museums and nice array of restaurants, bars and Cafes. Many of the City’s schools are also located downtown. Yet there is still a fair amount of blight and disinvestment surrounding the Butler main Street due to the economic decline of the City. Major areas for Butler to improve from an urban perspective include dedicated bike lanes, new parks, and mixed-use infill construction. 
Click here to view the entire Butler, PA album on my Flickr page

URBAN STRENGTHS:

* High quality sidewalk and ADA infrastructure.
* Great connectivity with Dwtn Butler’s street grid.
* Over half of all households are family households.
* Fair amount of cultural amenities including a couple historic house museums, restaurants, bars & cafes, a community theater, several art galleries and the unique Maridon Museum- dedicated Chinese and Japanese art.
* Nice array of shops running down Butler’s quaint main street… a drug store, post office, library, a butcher shop, a couple book stores, and nice array of boutiques, specialty shops, and antique stores.
* Very nice historic commercial running down Main Street along with a wonderful County Courthouse. Several historic mid-sized bldgs as well.
* High quality urban form and streetscape along Main Street but this quickly falls apart as one travels away from Main Street. Lots of surface parking lots here.
* Nice array quality schools in and near Downtown Butler. 4 schools within the Dwtn area.

URBAN WEAKNESSES:

* Over 50 minute drive to downtown Pittsburgh, bus access is pretty much non-existent.
* Bike infrastructure is non-existent.
* Some economic diversity but generally Butler is pretty poor. 27% of the population lives in poverty. Limited Racial diversity as well.
* Fair amount of for-sale housing in the Dwtn area but not much diversity in price point. Most homes sell btwn 50K-100K. Some nicer historic homes sell for more than 100K. Rentals are very limited but inexpensive.
* Recreation and Park amenities are limited to a dwtn YMCA and the plaza outside of the Butler County.
* Not much modern in-fill and what exists is generally unattractive.
* Some street trees but not great tree canopy.

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