Connellsville, PA Historic Coke Capital of the World

Most of the City was included in my evaluation except the western and southern extremes south of Green St and west of 9th Street. Connellsville was officially founded as a township in 1793. By 1870 the town had more than 1,000 residents. Population got a boast in 1909, when balloting in New Haven and Connellsville merged the  two adjacent boroughs. New Haven was to the west of the Youghiogheny River and Connellsville to the east. Due to the city’s location in the center of the Connellsville Coalfield, coal mining, coke production became the City’s major sources of employment. Connellsville became known at the “Coke Capital of the World” due to the amount and quality of coke produced in its many beehive ovens. Connellsville also has the distinction of 5 railroads running through it. Many of these historic train stations remain. But like most Western Pennsylvania towns Connellsville has less than half of its historic population, which peaked in 1920 with just under 14,000 souls.

From an urban perspective Connellsville is well built but the scars of deindustrialization and poverty are highly visible. Historic main streets cover a large area along E Crawford Ave (historic Connellsville dwtn), W Crawford Ave (historic New Haven dwtn), Pittsburgh and Apple Streets. Lots of great buildings but only some of them have been stabilized. The Connellsville Redevelopment Authority has done some work to stabilize buildings and bring in new businesses. But there is certainly much more investment needed to make this a viable urban area once again. 
Click here to view my full Connellsville album on Flickr

URBAN STRENGTHS:

* Sidewalks are pretty consistent throughout the City. Also ADA curbs are pretty prevalent as well especially in commercial areas.
* Dedicated bike trail passes through the westside of town, part of the larger Great Allegheny Passage.
* Over 50% of households are family households and decent generational diversity in Connellsville.
* Several ballfield sprinkled through but other nice recreational spaces including the bike trail along the Youghiogheny River, the multi-faceted East Park complete with a lake, and a couple other smaller parks.
* Excellent but underinvested historic architecture especially in the historic dwtn. Residential architecture is hit or miss.
* Generally pretty good urban form even with missing teeth and vacant buildings. Several commercial streets spanning both sides of the river.
* Good array of retail throughout Connellsville several main street areas, but never great concentration in one area. Amenities include several drug stores, a public library and post office, a hardware store, nice array of antique stores, and some boutiques, banks, Highlands Hospital, and a full-service supermarket but in a strip mall plaza. 

URBAN WEAKNESSES:

* Poverty is pretty high topping 20%. This helps drive down medium income to just over 30K. Racial diversity is also limited as over 90% of the population is White.
* Limited rental housing. For sale housing is a bit better. Half of available housing goes for less than 50K. Still plenty of stable options selling from 75K-200K. Limited product in the 200Ks.
* Cultural amenities consist of several restaurants & bars (mostly Americana and Italian), the art community center (Appalachian Creativity Center), a community theater, and a couple local museums.
* Lots of blight and abandonment here and crime is higher than the Nat. average.
* Decent access to walkable schools with both the Catholic grade school and high school with the City limits. Connellsville public middle & high school are also located within town but located in the extra Northeastern corner in an auto centric part of town. 

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