Jeannette, PA- Once the Glass Capital of the World

Jeannette was first incorporated as a borough in 1889 and quickly grew to 3,000 residents by 1890. Jeannette earned the nickname “the glass city” as it became a major glass producing center for the US. Some estimates indicate the borough produced 70-85% of the world’s glass at one point. Jeannette was also Westmoreland County’s first truly industrial town and rapidly grew to 8,000 residents by 1910. At times, there were as many as 7 significant factories operating in the borough. Jeanette reached its height at 16,000 residents in 1950 but the post WWII decades were not kind to the City as only 9,000 residents now reside in the borough.

What remains of Jeanne is an impressive historic main street, but with many vacancies and vacant lots. Still some shops remain, but nothing like its heyday. Residential areas immediately surrounding downtown and in the industrial flats have been hardest hit with the hillside neighborhoods mostly in tact. Sadly Jeannette is likely to continue its slow decline without drastic changes like an influx of immigration, or major reinvestment effort into its downtown and neighborhoods. Towns like this make me wish the US has an immigration policy incentivizing resettlement of rust belt cities. That seems to be its only hope of coming back. 
Click here to view my Jeannette Album on Flickr

URBAN STRENGTHS:

* Decent economic diversity but also high poverty here (22%).
* While there is lots of blight and vacancy here, very low crime rate.
* High pct of family households (58%)
* While dwtn Jeannette is certainly very blighted there is still a decent amount of walkable retail remaining including a drug store, library, post office, a couple banks, a dollar general, florist. a liquor store, jeweler and several other general retail options. Some retail on mixed-use streets throughout Jeannette.
* Some nice historic buildings Dwtn. Nothing extraordinary about the housing stock generally.
* The massing of the main street is actually pretty good even though there is significant blight Dwtn. Outside of dwtn commercial is generally mixed-use with decent urban form.

URBAN WEAKNESSES:

* Limited current ADA curb ramps and plenty of areas missing sidewalks and curb cuts.
* Very low density for an urban area.
* Poor public transit and therefore multi-model access to Dwtn.
* No bike infrastructure in Jeannette.
* Housing is very inexpensive. Large amount of product below 100K and much of it below 50K. The most stable product is generally further from Dwtn and selling in the low to mid 100Ks.
* Rentals are pretty limited and very inexpensive.
* Parks a limited to a couple playgrounds and ball fields.
* Cultural amenities limited to a handful of restaurants (many of them Italian) and bars along with the Italian cultural center.
* Several decent walkable schools including a public elementary, middle, and high school and Catholic Grade school.
* No recent investment in streetscaping. Looks very tired.

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