West End/Elliot- West Pittsburgh’s most urban neighborhoods

West End Village (originally named Temperanceville) was founded in 1860 as a dry town. It was annexed into the City of Pittsburgh in 1874. The village was founded on the valley floor through which Saw Mill Run flows toward the Ohio River and between the Coal Hill end of Mt. Washington and River Hill. This is a very curious spot hidden in what I would call a Pittsburgh “holler” yet only 2 miles from Downtown Pittsburgh. It also is located in a flood plain. This along with being a victim of blight and abandonment have nearly decimated the village’s historically high population of 2,000 residents in 1940. Now just over 200 souls remain here. Fortunately, much of the neighborhood’s historic commercial remains in-tact forming a decent main street. Some businesses have set up shop here but much vacancy still remains.

Just up the hill from the West End westwards along the Ohio River is the Elliot Neighborhood. It was annexed into the City of Pittsburgh in the early 20th century. The neighborhood grew rapidly in the early 20th century  due to its proximity to downtown Pittsburgh and direct access to several arterial roads and streetcar lines into a pretty dense and walkable community. Sadly like many districts in Pittsburgh, it faced decline following WWII and has never really recovered. But unlike other distressed Pittsburgh communities, Elliott’s housing stock is mostly in-tact and boasts high densities, albeit without the walkable amenities it used to have.

Given their very convenient access to Downtown via transit and of course driving, there’s no reason these two urban communities should remain stagnant. Hopefully the City of Pittsburgh gets its act together in cleaning up the blight of these neighborhoods. Elliott could easily become a walkable community again with a decent mixed use district along Chartiers Ave. With appropriate investment the West End Business district could be thriving again but with dense housing surrounding it.
Click here for my West End Album and here for my Elliott Album

URBAN STRENGTHS:

* Excellent public transit access and very convenient to Dwtn and Oakland via bus and car.
* Very high level of family households and solid racial and economic diversity.
* Good park access with several small parks well dispersed in the community. Westend Overlook provides excellent views of Downtown.
* Excellent tree canopy due to all the hills and valleys.
* Good historic architecture in the West End biz district. The residential architecture is blander worker housing.
* Pretty good massing in the West End’s urban biz district.

URBAN WEAKNESSES:

* Decent bike connection into the West End via the West End bridge, but limited bike infrastructure outside of this.
* Housing is very cheap. High end of the market is in the low 100s. Fair amount of housing selling below 50K.
* Rentals are pretty limited and generally pretty cheap.
* Cultural amenities are limited but some good stuff including a local theater, a handful of restaurants and bars, a cafe, a couple art galleries. While not walkable the plethora of cultural amenities downtown and in the side are nearby.
*Some nice retail amenities (mostly in West End). This includes a post office, library, hardware store, a handful of boutiques, and lots of construction supply stores. No grocery or drug store nearby.
* While most structures are still standing  (esp. in Elliot) lots of vacancy and blight.
* No schools within the district and only a handful in nearby neighborhoods.
* Sidewalks are largely in tact but current ADA ramps is rare except in the core biz district of the Westend.
* Streetscaping is pretty uninspiring and outdated but not terrible.

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