California, PA- named after the 49ers but still in Pennsylvania

I used Pennsylvania as the southern boundary and included the university. The rest of the urban boundaries are pretty intuitive. When founded in 1849, the town was aptly named after the California Gold rush. Ironically this also began as a mining town, but of the Anthracite kind. California was once home to the largest soft coal mine in the world by the late 19th century.

Fortunately those coal mining days are over and California’s new economy is based around a state run college, California University bosting just under 5,000 students. From an urban perspective the historic core of California is a bit lackluster. Decent urban main street on Wood St. but not extensive and limited retail. The residential areas host decent architecture but the urban form feels a bit countrylike. I guess that makes sense as California is deep in the Mon valley. The college campus of California University is nice and makes up somewhat for the town’s urban flatness.

Not sure how California can conceivably improve its urban form with a Pennsylvania rivertown economy, but more diversity of retail is a good place to start. Certainly plenty of opportunities for high quality infill that perhaps could attract some of the commuting students to live on campus. 
Click here to view my California album on Flickr


* Good economic diversity largely thanks to California University.
* Several modest parks spread throughout California but nothing special. The best green space is California University.
* California is a bit gritty but generally safe.
* Decent architecture on the main street and very nice at California University.
* Good urban form and streetscape on Wood. Hit or miss on 3rd street.
* Tree canopy good in the university but decent in the town.


* Poor public transit and access to major employment center in the Pittsburgh Metro, although California College itself is a solid employment center, especially for the Mon River Valley.
* ADA and sidewalk infrastructure is a mixed bag. Some areas don’t really have them or are in terrible shape.
* Limited racial diversity. Not great age diversity due to student’s dominance.
* Rentals are more limited than you’d expect for a college town and very cheap. For sale product is generally cheaper with most product selling below 100K. Some product selling in the 100Ks.
* Other than the performing arts at the University, cultural amenities are pretty limited in the Borough other than a handful of restaurants and bars.
* Neighborhood amenities include a drug store, post office, library, and some other neighborhood retail. Limited specialty stores. Hospital is on the edge of the borough.
* No walkable schools. All are located out on the edges of town.
* Modern in-fill is limited to the University.
* Sidewalks and ADA infrastructure is very hood in the university but hit or miss in the neighborhood. 

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