Irwin, PA- Historic Town 30 miles east of Downtown Pittsburgh

I only included a small portion of Irwin in this evaluation. It’s the portion north of Penn Highway and west of Locust St. This is the older most walkable portion of Irwin where sidewalks are consistent.

Irwin was a very small community through most of the 1800s.  It began to take off in the late 1800s with the discovery of extensive  bituminous coal deposits and by 1900 had reached around 2,500 residents. Its population maxed out in 1980 with around 5,000 (thanks to some suburban annexation). Unfortunately Irwin has lost just over 1,000 residents since then. Fortunately Irwin is still pretty healthy, especially for Western PA standards. It has a vibrant main street with lots of shops and restaurants open and its residential fabric is mostly in-tact with a stable housing market.

My hope is that Irwin can stabilize its population decline soon, allowing it to grow more neighborhood serving retail and start to fill-in underutilized buildings and spaces. Other urban improvements include more walkable schools, better bike infrastructure, and public transit access. Irwin could also use some immigration not only to help stabilize its population but to add diversity to a place where Whites make 95% of the population. 
Click here to view my Irwin album on Flickr

Urban Strengths:

* Pretty good density.
* Nicely connected street grid, convenient for pedestrians.
* Stable housing market with most product selling in the 100Ks. Some lower end product btwn 50-100K. Some higher end product selling in the 200Ks.
* Consistant sidewalks in Irwin. Current ADA ramps typical in the downtown area but rare in the residential streets.
* Irwin Park is a very nice one with lots of amenities. But its the only park in Dwtn Irwin.
* Some nice cultural amenities including a  nice array of restaurants, bars & cafes, a community theater, a couple historic sites, and an art center.
* Good array of neighborhood amenities as well including a post office, lots of boutiques and locally owned stores, antique stores, a toy store, many churches, and other neighborhood retail.
* Very nice urban form in the Dwtn Irwin. Some surface parking lots but generally off the main street. Streetscaping is also pretty good. 

Urban Weaknesses:

* Pretty poor public transit access, although downtown Pittsburgh is only a 30-35 min drive.
* No bike infrastructure.
* Rentals are very limited.
* No walkable supermarkets or larger retailers.
* Only the Catholic grade school and music school are located within Dwtn Irwin. All other schools are located on the outskirts of Irwin and not walkable.
* Modern in-fill is very limited. 

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