Washington, PA- Heart of the Whiskey Rebellion

Washington PA has a long history going back to colonial times. Washington was first settled by colonists around 1768 by mostly Northern Irish and Scottish immigrants. It is not surprisingly then that an open rebellion broke out when the new US government decided to tax the Whiskey production in Western PA. This resulted in the well known ‘Whiskey Rebellion’ of 1791. Fortunately things settled down in Washington and the Washington & Jefferson (a small liberal arts college) was established and the town was incorporated as a borough in 1810. Washington is also located along the Marcellus Shale  formation and had several oil booms in its history including the turn of the 19th century and more recently.  Washington’s population peaked in 1950 at 26K souls but has decreased in half to only 13K today. Fortunately its decline slowed significantly between 2010 and 2020.

Given its significant population decline its not surprising there are many blighted areas of Washington, but it has not completely lost its form and many of the Downtown buildings (especially along Main St) are still in-tact. There are some signs of rebirth as population decline is slowing and new food and beverage businesses are opening again downtown. Washington also has several walkable schools with decent ratings, lots of affordable housing, and decent cultural and retail amenities. To become a quality urban environment again Washington needs more people and businesses. The City also suffers from a lack of any bike infrastructure, limited public transit access and park spaces, and a pretty high crime rate.

Click here to view my Album on Flickr

URBAN STRENGTHS:

* Good generational diversity (thanks in large part to the college) and economic diversity.
* Several walkable schools with decent ratings.
* Some rentals available and very affordable.1 & 2 -beds lease btwn 700K-1,000, and 3-beds btwn 1K-1.5K
* For sale is also very affordable . Very limited 1-bed product selling btwn 40K-75K. 2-beds btwn 50K-250K, 3 & 4 beds is similar but with some product selling btwn 250K-300K.
* ADA infrastructure is very good in parts and pretty bad in others.
* Culturally a decent # of restaurants & bars, a couple cafes breweries & art galleries, a couple local museums and local theaters. Washington also has a local symphony and good performing arts coming from Washing & Jefferson College.
* Decent but not great retail amenities including a Shop n Save and large Mexican grocerias & local farmer’s market, several dollar stores, a couple drug stores, several consignment shops & gift stores, a couple antique stores, several banks, a dwtn library & post office, a local hospital, and plenty of churches.
* Urban form and streetscaping is good in Dwtn but pretty poor outside of Dwtn. 

URBAN WEAKNESSES:

* Density is pretty low.
* There is a local; Washington Co transit system and a commuter bus to Dwtn but I sense its pretty limited. Commute takes over an hr to Dwtn. To drive to Dwtn Pittsburgh is 40 mins.
* No bike infrastructure here.
* Only one park within my evaluation area although there are several on the edges of the City. Pretty limited park amenities overall.
* Crime is high in spots but overall not terrible in Washington. Certainly areas of blight still remain.

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