Wilmerding, PA historic home of Westinghouse Air Brakes

This evaluation only includes the portion of Wilmerding south of Turtle Creek. That is the most cohesive portion of this small borough. George Westinghouse purchased current day Wilmerding in 1888 as the future site for his Westinghouse Air Brake Company and related facilities. The town quickly began to develop in the 1890s. Wilmerding’s most notable historic structure is the Westinghouse Air Brake Company General Office Building designed by local Pittsburgh architect Frederick J. Osterling.

Wilmerding feels very much like a villagy company town with two hubs. The Air Brake warehouse and factories along Turtle Creek and Wilmerding Town Square where the borough’s modest business district abuts. The town peaked with over 6,000 residents in 1920 and now barely boasts over 2,000. The fortunes of the town really seemed to decline by 1960. The Westinghouse Air Brake Company has gone through several owners through the decades but appears to still be producing train air brakes. To really find new life, Wilmerding needs to rebrand itself and find smaller manufacturing’s and businesses to move to the Borough. With investment in its main street and new retail this could be an attractive little town. Hopefully the conversion of the Westinghouse Historic Offices into a boutique hotel will breath new life and interest into Wilmerding. 
Click here to view my Wilmerding album on Flickr

URBAN STRENGTHS:

* Sidewalks are consistent throughout Wilmerding but current ADA curb ramps are rare.
* Wilmerding is only a 25 minute drive to dwtn but public transit options are fair.
* Younger than average population and near 50% are family households. Decent racial diversity.
* Westinghouse built some spectacular historic buildings here including the High School, Westinghouse Airbrake Building, and the Westinghouse historic offices. Residential architecture is pretty good as well.
* While the town has a fair amount of grit, especially in the commercial areas, it feels pretty safe.
* Solid tree canopy thanks to the hillsides that surround the borough’s border and consistent street trees. 

URBAN WEAKNESSES:

* No bike infrastructure.
* Poverty is around 25% driving down the town’s medium income to around 38K.
* Rentals are limited and inexpensive. Limited for sale diversity too with most homes selling below 50K. A few sales in the 100Ks.
* Walkable schools are limited but there is the Westinghouse Arts Academy for high schoolers.  This is at the site of the historic Wilmerding Memorial High School.
* Wilmerding Park is the only greenspace in the borough.
* Cultural amenities limited to only a handful of restaurants and bars. Hopefully the Westinghouse Air Brake Office Bldg.’s conversion into a boutique hotel will lead to some additional cultural amenities for the community.
* Some walkable neighborhood retail including a post office, dollar general, a portrait studio.
* There isn’t really a consistent main street, instead several blocks of main street like mixed-use buildings between Station St. and Wilmerding Park. These areas feel tired with little recent investment and TLC. Parts of it even have surface parking. 

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