Mt. Oliver, PA Pittsburgh’s most Urban Suburb

The borough is surrounded entirely by the city of Pittsburgh, having resisted annexations by the City. I equate the urban form and level of blight and disinvestment with Mt. Oliver to be very similar to its neighbor, Knoxville, part of the City of Pittsburgh. This is a streetcar suburb that developed in the turn of the century maxing out at 7,000 people in 1930. Currently just over 3,000 residents remain in Mt. Oliver, but the Borough still retains pretty good density and quality urban form along Brownsville Road.

But similar to Knoxville, Mt. Oliver is plagued with disinvestment and shuttered stormfronts. They both share the same main street along Brownsville Rd. Residential streets, while at similar price points to Knoxville, are more in tact and stable than Knoxville overall. Mt. Oliver has great potential to become a viable walkable urban neighborhood with concerted reinvestment and attention. Other areas that could improve its livability include bike infrastructure, better park amenities, and new restaurants, retail, and creative storefronts along Brownsville road. A supermarket would be a huge benefit, but that may be down the road. There is at least a Shop’ n Save near the borough’s southern border. 
Click here to view the entire Mt. Oliver album on my Flickr Page


* Consistent sidewalks throughout but current ADA infrastructure is absent from most residentials streets. Common along the commercial corridor, Brownsville Rd.
* Good tree canopy due to the terrain but limited street trees along the Brownsville Corridor.
* Convenient access to Dwtn via both driving and public transit.
* Good connectivity in the street grid.
* Great ethnically diversity in Mt. Oliver.
* While blighted, Brownsville is a pretty in tact urban businesses district with attractive architecture. Some attention was made the its streetscape several decades ago.
* Good density, especially for a Pittsburgh community that has seen significant disinvestment


* No bike infrastructure.
* Very high poverty here (around 35%) but a decent middle class population.
*  For Sale Market is still pretty depressed with most homes selling below 50K. Stable well maintained stocks transacting btwn 50K-160K. Decent rental product with a mix of cheap and middle market prices..
* Cultural amenities are pretty limited to a handful of restaurants &  bars. Most residents are still within walking distance to Warrington in Allentown which has many amenities.
* Retail amenities are a bit better including a public library, hardware store, post office, banks, a family dollar, drug store, and hair salons.
* Still safety issues in Mt. Oliver and a fair about of blight along Brownsville and residential pockets.
* An elementary school is within the Mt. Oliver boundaries. Middle and Highschool are not walkable.
* Urban in-fill is pretty limited.
* Park amenities include the medium sized Transverse Park and a cemetery. 

Leave a Reply

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

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

Facebook photo

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

Connecting to %s