Monessen, PA named after Essen Germany with a Mon Valley Twist

I included the western half of Monessen in my evaluation as this portion of the borough was primarily developed before WWII and therefore has the best urban fabric. I used Parente Blvd and Cemetery Street as the boundaries.

Monessen, named for the Monongahela River and the industrial German city of Essen, was established as a borough in 1898 quickly becoming a major steel producing City. Like many rust belt cities in the Pittsburg area, Monessen fell on hard times in the starting in the 60s with the last major plant closing in 1987. The population is about 1/3 of its original size at just under 8,000 residents.

The urban fabric of Monessen is in rough shape with scattered demolitions through most of the borough, except for newer development built after the 1920s. The historic downtown runs along Donner St. While Donner has high vacancy, some retail remains, and the main street retains some of its urban form. A recent streetscaping project has certainly spruced up its appearance as well. I don’t believe Monessen will reverse its population decline anytime soon, but a more comprehensive strategy towards stabilization is needed with strategic investments and a major clean and green campaign. Investing in the downtown, which has some semblance of place, is certainly a good place to start. 
Click here to view my entire Monessen album on Flickr

URBAN STRENGTHS:

* High percentage of family households but population skews very old.
* Decent economic and racial diversity.
* The housing market is pretty depressed with the majority of sales slipping under 50K. Some sales of newer 30s-50s housing in the southern portions of the borough selling between 70K-150K. Listed rentals are hard to find.
* The Historic business district runs mostly along Donner Ave with some remaining fabric along Schoomaker. Plenty to of blight and vacancy here but still some assemblance of urban form and stores that remain open including a Rite Aid, supermarket, several banks, a post office, the public library, and some more unique stores.
* Donner St was rebuilt in 2019 drastically upgrading its streetscaping and ADA infrastructure. 
* Quality tree canopy thanks to the many hillsides and valleys. Limited street trees in along Donner Ave.

URBAN WEAKNESSES:

* Public transit is decent along the Mon River but none existent once one moves inland in the borough.
* Poor public transit and access to major employment center in the Pittsburgh Metro.
* No bike infrastructure here.
* Significant amount of blight here but crime rates cover just above US average.
* Recreational amenities are limited to the medium sized 9th street park and Grandview Cemetery.
* Cultural amenities limited to several Italian restaurants, dive bar and the Monessen Heritage Museum.
* Generally sidewalks but rarely up to date ADA curbs.
* Only an elementary schools in up within the boundaries of this eval.

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