McDonald, PA- A small borough located on the Allegheny/Washington County Line

Like many small boroughs in Western Pennsylvania, McDonald was established in the late 1880s around light manufacturing. By 1900 the town hosted 2,400 residents and peaked at 3,500 in 1950s. Since then the population has declined by nearly half and just over 2,000 souls resident in McDonald.

While McDonald is in the Pittsburgh MSA, it feels pretty disconnected to the Pittsburgh Metro. There is no Port Authority Service here and its surrounded by woods and farmland. But McDonald is only a 1/2 hour drive to Downtown Pittsburgh. This is one of the less developed sides of the Pittsburgh Metro. From an urban perspective McDonald has stable housing, largely in-tact but gritty and often vacant commercial buildings. The community does have several important amenities including a Giant Eagle, a local library and post office, a handful of shops and restaurants, good parks, and overall a pretty safe community. The only way for this to become a thriving urban area is more people. But without a major wave of immigrants I don’t see McDonald changing much (other than continuing its slow decline) anytime soon.

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URBAN STRENGTHS:

* Decent connectivity.
* Excellent economic and generational diversity.
* Lots of affordable and moderately priced SF homes with prices ranging anywhere btwn 75K-335K
* Pretty good tree canopy.
* McDonald hosts a pair of medium sized parks (Heritage and East End Parks) with good recreational and sports amenities.
* Overall a pretty safe community.
* A set of very nice historic business buildings and pretty good historic homes as well.
* Good urban form in the core of Dwtn. But it drops off outside of the core and becomes pretty auto centric.

URBAN WEAKNESSES:

* Pretty low density for an urban center.
* Very limited public transit here.
* Driving to Dwtn and Oakland only takes about an hour but very limited public transit options.
* ADA compliant ramps is hit or miss. Sidewalks missing on about 1/3 of streets.
* Nice recreational bike trail cutting through town, but other than that no other bike amenities.
* Limited racial diversity as McDonald’s population is 90% White.
* Rental options are very limited.
* Several well rated schools are a 10-15 minute drive. But none of them are walkable.
* Cultural amenities are limited to a handful of restaurants & bars, a historic theater (now an event space), and the Calwell Historic Home (now an B&B).
* McDonald has some retail amenities including a Giant Eagle, a couple pharmacies, a couple banks, several salons/barber shops, a local post office, a couple antique and home good stores, a gym, a local public library, and several churches.
* Very limited modern in-fill and what does exist is generally crummy auto centric bldgs.

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