Rochester, PA a Ohio River Town with a great History of Glass Innovation

Like many places around Pittsburgh, Rochester was a former industrial hub especially with glass production. In 1897 the National Glass Company helped revolutionize glass production by inventing a glass mold as opposed to the traditional technique of cutting glass by hand. At its height, the company employed over a 1,000 people but its bankruptcy during the Great Depression began Rochester’s long decline. In 1930 Rochester held 7,700 residents but now has around 3,400.

While the town still retains decent walkability and retail assets, its downtown along Brighton St. is in rough shape with little investment in its buildings and streetscape. Town planners also decided to install a traffic circle around the town’s historic town square really hurting Rochester’s sense of place and desirability. This would be the first thing I’d change to improve Rochester before even embarking on a major downtown investment campaign. There is also need for bike infrastructure, better parks, and cultural amenities.
Click here to review the full album on my Flickr page

URBAN STRENGTHS:

* Good street grid and connectivity.
* Solid economic and generational diversity with over 50% of households as families.
* While Rochester doesn’t have a great cohesive main street there are some good retail and neighborhood amenities including: a post office, library, supermarket, drug store, and several antiques and specialty retail.
* Rochester Middle and High School are located just east of the borough’s borders, but still pretty walkable to the community.
* As the borough is generally flat sidewalks are consistent through. ADA updated curbs are limited especially outside of the downtown area.

URBAN WEAKNESSES:

* The retains decent density even after losing more than half its population.
* No bike infrastructure.
* Public transit access is ok but not great routes to downtown Pittsburgh. About a 40-45 minute drive.
* The for sale market is pretty depressed with half of all housing selling below 50K. Some more stable housing selling in the 100Ks. Rental options are pretty limited and inexpensive.
* Recreational space consists mostly of several ball fields ringing the edge of town. Also a couple a decent plazas downtown but they are surrounded by high traffic street and not well integrated into the town’s urban fabric.
* Cultural amenities are pretty limited and include a handful of restaurants & bars. Also a couple local theaters. Important to keep in mind that Downtown Beaver is only a 5 minute drive.
* Crime is pretty high here and a significant amount of blight.
* Some infill but most of it is crummy autocentric stuff.
* Street trees are very limited in the downtown area and spotty in the residential areas.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s