Bellevue, PA- Pittsburgh Ohio River town with a Bright Future

The land on which the borough currently sits was once part of the Depreciation Lands reserved for Revolutionary War veterans. Bellevue was incorporated as a borough independent of Ross in 1867 after a dispute with the Township over developing along the Venango Rail line (now route 19). Development came slow at first to Bellevue with only 300 residents around the Civil War, but quickly accelerated in the late 19th century jumping to 3,500 in 1900, 8K in 1920 and peaking around 11,500 in 1950.  Bellevue’s population started to drop in the 1970s along with the rest of the Pittsburgh region and only recently has showed signs of bottoming out with only a small population drop between 2010 and 2020. The Borough now sits just above 8,000 residents, which for Pittsburgh standards is pretty good!

From an urban perspective Bellevue is a fairly compact inner ring suburb with good transit access, a pretty well maintained main street (Lincoln Ave) with a good number of retail still open, good housing diversity, and the typical suburban amenities of good schools and safety. For Bellevue to reached its urban potential it needs more population, a complete urban rehaul of I-65 (an auto centric disaster) better park & bike amenities, some improved sidewalk and ADA curb infrastructure, and key missing retail like gyms, clothing stores, and more higher end retail. But buzz is certainly building for Bellevue as trendy new businesses have recently opened up along Lincoln Avenue and homes starting to sell over 300K. Hopefully this positive trend can continue without significant displacement.

Click here to view my Bellevue Album on Flickr

URBAN STRENGTHS:

* Solid urban density.
* Convenient access to Dwtn. Only 10 min drive and 30 min bus ride. Not great bike connection.
* Solid diversity esp. generational and economic.
* Several walkable schools in Bellevue, generally rated well, and good mix of private and public.
* Good mix of affordable and moderately priced for-sale housing. Very limited 1-beds but lots of 2-beds ranging btwn 100K-300K, 3 & 4 beds sell btwn 85K-350K.
* Decent # of rentals and pretty affordable. 1-beds lease btwn $800-1K, 2-beds btwn 1K-1.5K, 3-beds in the 1Ks. Also a good amount of dedicated affordable housing.
* Thanks to generally leafy streets and lots of hillsides, Bellevue has a solid tree canopy.
* Good cultural amenities including lots of restaurants, bars, a brewery a couple cafes, an art gallery, a couple local theaters & live music venues, a couple historic sites.
* Solid retail amenities including a couple supermarkets & drug stores, a hardware store, a couple of consignment stores, several gift stores/creative shops including a Hallmark, a couple family dollars, lots of salons/barber shops, several dessert joints, a historic library, and several churches, a major hospital, and several doctor’s offices.
* Overall a safe community.
* Most of Lincoln has seen a streetscaping refresh and is good urban form.
* Solid historic architecture both residential and commercial. Some homes date to the early-mid 1800s.
* Buzz in Bellevue is certainly bldg although I won’t consider it trendy yet.

URBAN WEAKNESSES:

* Most streets have sidewalks but about 10% are missing them. Modern ADA curb cuts existing in about 65% of all intersections. Hills in spots make walking more challenging.
* Really no bike infrastructure here.
* Bayne Park is a nice centralized medium size park but only a handful of other smaller parks in the Borough limits. Several larger park sit outside of the Borough but not very walkable to most Bellevue residents.
* Missing retail amenities include a gym, clothing stores, post office, other high end retail.
* Very auto centric road along 65 but at least it has sidewalks in most spots.
* In-fill is limited to most auto centric crud on 65.

Mount Lebanon- One of Pittsburgh’s Ritziest Suburbs

Mount Lebanon was a bit of a late bloomer as inner ring suburbs go in Pittsburgh. The City was incorporated in 1912 but had just over 2K residents in 1920. By that time Mt. Lebo had streetcar service but it was the opening of the Liberty Tunnel in 1924 allowing easy automobile access to Pittsburgh that led to a real estate boom. Between the 1920s and 1930s, Mt. Lebanon skyrocketed from 2,258 to 13,403 residents. It then reached 26K by 1950 and maxed out at 39K in 1970. The City has seen a steady decline since but appears to be stabilizing at around 32,000 souls.

From an urban perspective about half of the City has a quality urban environment surrounding the two urban commercial districts along Washington Ave and Beverly Rd.  The T-Line (light rail line) also runs along this portion of Mt. Lebanon providing 3 stations. The southern half of Mt. Lebanon is more quasi urban. There are generally sidewalks here, but the commercial districts are rather autocentric, and home are also less dense and mostly single family.

Overall Mt. Lebanon excels at providing excellent schools, great parks, a very safe community, many wonderful tree lined streets, quality cultural and retail amenities, and a decent housing mix. Mt. Lebanon is, however, a lily white community, lacks much economic diversity, is hit or miss with ADA infrastructure, and doesn’t have great density for an urban area. I’d love to see this City welcome more people and loosening up its zoning laws to permit more multi-family housing.

Click here to view my album on Flickr

URBAN STRENGTHS:

* Good public transit thanks to the line rail line running through the City and decent bus connections.
* Good access to Dwtn via transit or driving.
* Lots of family households here and good age diversity.
* Very safe community.
* Highly rated schools across all types. Most schools have at least decent walkability. Lots of options too.
* Decent amount of rental hsg and pretty moderately priced. 1-beds rent btwn 800K and the low 1Ks, 2-beds low to mid 1Ks, 3-beds 1.5K-2k.
* No spectacular parks here but just many small and medium sized parks are well spread throughout the City. The City’s best recreational facilities are located within Mt. Lebanon park and include a recreation center, indoor and outdoor pool, ice rink, major tennis complex, and soccer and baseball fields.
* Excellent tree canopy.
* Great historic architecture especially the residential homes.
* The Beverly and Washington Ave biz district are vibrant but the suburban ones aren’t and plenty of dead spaces in the residential areas.
* Good cultural amenities including a diverse array of restaurants, plenty of bars & cafes, a cineplex, several breweries and art galleries, a couple historic sites, and a couple bar/live music venues.
* Great retail amenities including several supermarkets & drug stores,  the Galleria Mall (a medium sized mall), a hardware store; decent # of boutiques & gift shops and  a couple book stores along the walkable biz districts; a public library and post office, several dessert options, St. Clair Hospital, and plenty of churches. Many stores are in autocentric settings.

URBAN WEAKNESSES:

* Density isn’t great but not terrible.
* About 70% of City streets have sidewalks. Neighborhood clusters on the edges of town often are with out them and even some arterials. Many residential areas are also missing ADA curb cuts.
* Connectively not great although some assemblance of a street grid.
* Poor bike infrastructure. No dedicated bike stations and few dedicated bike lanes.
* Very lily white community as 95% of Mt. Lebanon is white. Economic diversity isn’t much better.
* Housing is generally expensive but a fair amount of affordable condos and some moderately priced SF homes. 1-bed condos sell btwn 60K-150K, 2-beds condos anywhere btwn 100K-300; 2-beds SF sell btwn 200K-400K, 3-beds are a wide range btwn 200K-800K depending on size and condition; and 4 & 5 beds btwn 250K and the low millions. Overall a decent variety of available for sale housing.
* Some dedicated affordable housing in Mt. Lebanon but not enough.
* Mix of urban and auto centric biz districts. The urban ones are along Washington Ave, Beverley, and park of Cochran. The autocentric ones are along Mt. Lebanon Blvd and Gilkeson.

Canonsburg- One of Pittsburgh’s oldest Suburbs

I included most of Canonsburg in this evaluation but excluded the less than urban edges with limited sidewalks south of I-79, west of Oak Spring Rd, and north of North and Gladden Roads.

Canonsburg was laid out by Colonel John Canon in 1789 and incorporated in 1802. It quickly grew to 500 residents in 1820 and 650 by the Civil War. Canonsburg hosted the first institution of higher learning west of the Allegheny Mountains, Jefferson College, founded in 1802. The school would go on to become Washington & Jefferson College in nearby Washington in 1868 leaving Canonsburg is severe economic straights. Fortunately the railroads and industrialization came to the Borough leading to a second population boom. By 1900 the borough reached 3,000 residents and 12,500 by 1930 but fell  to 8,600 residents by 2000 following the trends of most historic Western PA towns. Surprisingly the Borough’s population has begun to raise and as of 2020 9,744 residents called Canonsburg home.

From an urban perspective Canonsburg has a solid historic main street along Pike St., and hit or miss residential streets. The Borough has solid economic & generational diversity, great public schools, quality parks & recreation, affordable housing, and solid retail amenities. To become a quality urban district the Borough needs better density, bike infrastructure, and connections to Dwtn Pittsburgh via transit, more consistant ADA infrastructure, better cultural amenities, and just more vibrancy and activity. There is also lots of blight still to clean up in the Borough.

Click here to view my Canonsburg Album on Flickr

URBAN STRENGTHS:

* Economic and generational diversity.
* Several excellent public schools within Canonsburg and an excellent public high school in the adjacent Strabane that should be in the same school district.
* Canonsburg Town Park is expansive with diverse amenities including a pool tennis court hiking trails, playground and ball fields. The borough also the Falconi Fields and couple other smaller parks.
* Some interesting historic architecture along the main street but generally pretty plain in the residential areas.
* A decent # of rentals and generally affordable. 1-beds lease btwn $600-1K, 2-beds in the 1Ks, and 3-bed houses in the high 1Ks and low 2Ks.
* For-sale is also pretty affordable. 1-beds (not many) sell in the low 100Ks, 2-beds btwn 10K-300K, 3 & 4 beds 150K- ~ 400K.
* Seems to be several afford. hsg projects in Canonsburg.
* Pretty good retail amenities including a Shop n Save, Rite Aid, several boutiques & consignment stores, a toy store, antique & home good stores, several banks, a post office, plenty of dessert shops and bakeries, several gyms, and a Public Library. There is also the Canonsburg hospital and tons of churches.
 While Canonsburg has some blight and grit it is actually a very safe place to live.
* Good urban form in the core 4-5 blocks Canonsburg. Pretty autocentric outside of this core area.

URBAN WEAKNESSES:

* Pretty poor density for an urban area.
* So  access to Dwtn. About a 25-30 drive but 50 min public transit ride.
* Transit service is limited to several trips to Dwtn per day on week days and only a couple on the weekend.
* Bike infrastructure is non-existent.
* Poor racial diversity.
* Tree canopy is hit or miss in the residential areas, poor in the biz district, but good along hillsides and valleys.
* Ok cultural amenities including several American restaurants & bars, a couple cafes, a couple breweries. Missing any art galleries, live music venues, theaters/cinemas, or museums.
* ADA infrastructure is pretty decent along the Biz Corridor but very hit or miss along the residential streets. Plenty of missing ADA curbs and often missing segments of sidewalk.
* Not great pedestrian activity.
* Not much in-fill and what does exist is generally pretty bad.

Bridgeville- Western PA’s Borough named after a Bridge

I included the portion of Bridgeville that at least had some semblance of sidewalk connectivity. Areas of Bridgeville I excluded from the evaluation where areas east of New York Rd. and north of McLaughlin Run.

The village that eventually became Bridgeville gained its name after the first bridge built at the crossing of Chartiers Creek at the south end of what is now Washington Avenue. For nearly 100 years, Bridgeville was a village within Upper St. Clair Township, known for its one bridge over Chartiers Creek where people would meet to trade goods. This evolved into an informal name of the village that sprung up north of the bridge starting in the 1830s. As mining operations began in the 1880s  Bridgeville grew to around 1,000 residents in 1900 and shortly after was incorporated as a Borough. Its population quickly grew in the early 20th century to 4,450 residents in 1940 and maxed out in 1960 at just over 7K residents. Like many Western PA communities Bridgeville has seen a steady population decline but not as severe as other communities. Bridgeville now has just under 5K residents.

Bridgeville’s evaluation score was 90, the minimum level I consider to be an urban community. That’s because Bridgeville has a mix of positive and negative attributes from an urban perspective. On the positive side Bridgeville has a decent Dwtn area, with plenty of retail, many restaurants and bars, good mix of affordable for-sale housing, quality historic architecture, decent urban massing, and some walkability. However, it lacks good density, quality transit and bike infrastructure, has fair ADA and sidewalk infrastructure, only one walkable school, limited cultural amenities, and has a rather tired and dated looking streetscape. Obviously there are many areas for urban improvement in Bridgeville but the Borough has the urban bones and a strong enough housing market to become a solid urban community.

Click here to view my Bridgeville Album on Flickr

URBAN STRENGTHS:

* Decent access to Dwtn. 20 min drive and 40 min bus ride.
* Great economic and generational diversity.
* Decent medium sized parks (McLaughlin and Chartiers Park).  Bridgeville Historic Society Park is centrally located but small. No swimming pools.
* Bridgeville is overall a safe community. Still a fair amount of grit and some vacancy, especially with commercial bldgs.
* Good mix affordable and moderately priced for sale housing. 1 & 2-bed condos sell btwn 60K-125K, 2-beds sell anywhere btwn 100K-250K, 3&4-beds generally btwn 150K-400K.
* Several affordable housing towers in town.
* Okay cultural amenities include several American restaurants & bars, a good # of cafes, the Bridgeville Historic Society, there is a cineplex just north of the Borough in Collier Township.
* Good retail amenities include a supermarket, a drug store, several boutiques, a couple antiques, a couple hardware stores, a  couple of banks, gyms, and bookstores, a bookstore, a public library, local post office. A major shopping plaza is just north of Bridgeport with a home depot, supermarket TJ MAX and lots of other stores but access is dicey for pedestrians.
* Good historic architecture.
* Mix of good and fair urban massing.
* Good tree canopy in the residential areas but pretty limited in the main St.

URBAN WEAKNESSES:

* Density is pretty poor.
* ADA infrastructure is pretty decent along the Biz Corridor but very hit or miss along the residential streets. Plenty of missing ADA curbs and often missing segments of sidewalk.
* Overall transit access is so .
* Connectivity is fair.
* No bike infrastructure here.
* With 90% of the population as White, racial diversity is limited here.
* Bridgeville is in a good school district, Chartiers School district, but only a small elementary school is walkable and located within the borough.
* Some rental product but generally affordable. 1-beds lease btwn 700 & the low 1Ks, 2-beds around 1K but not many of them.
* Culturally Bridgeville is missing any art galleries, there are few museums, limited live music venues.
* Limited modern in-fill
* Streetscaping is ok but pretty tired.

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.

Click here to view my album on Flickr

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.

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.

Avalon, PA- A quaint Pittsburgh inner-ring suburb along the Ohio River

Avalon was incorporated as a distinct municipality in 1875 starting out as a small community of a couple hundred families. The City  was named after the legendary island of Avalon (“land of apples”) on account of there being several orchards in the area. By 1900 the borough reached 2,000 people and with the help of a streetcar and train line it reached 6,000 by 1940. Population maxed out at 7,000 souls in 1970 and Avalon has been losing people ever since and is down to 4,500 currently. Yet Avalon still feels very in tact and has been a recent destination of single family home renovations and strengthening real estate market.

Avalon also has decent main street buildings that with more investment in the community could lead to many more locally owned businesses and vibrancy. Other urban assets include: a good mix of affordable and moderately price rentals and for sale options thanks to the community’s flexible zoning laws, good tree canopy, solid parks, safety, excellent economic diversity, and decent historic architecture.

Urban areas where Avalon could improve include much more bike infrastructure, more retail and especially cultural amenities, and better urban massing along the state route 65, a very autocentric boulevard.

Click here to view my Avalon, PA album on Flickr

URBAN STRENGTHS:

* Sidewalks are on 95% of the streets but ADA current ramps are more often absent.
* Overall a pretty safe community.
* Excellent economic diversity and very good generational diversity.
* Good access to downtown with both good driving and bus access.
* Decent rental options and affordable. 1-beds lease for $700-1K, 2-beds around $1,000s  and 3-beds in the low $1,000s.
* Good for sale diversity as well with a good # of 1 bed condos selling btwn 50K-125K, 2 beds btwn 75K and high 100Ks, 3-beds a bit more expensive extending into the low 200Ks, and 4 & 5 beds into the high 200Ks and low 300Ks.
* Great tree canopy especially in the hillside areas.
* Solid park amenities around Spruce Run.
* Pretty good historic architecture.

URBAN WEAKNESSES:

* No bike lanes infrastructure.
* Cultural amenities are pretty limited to several restaurants & bars, and some chain coffee stores, a small local theater.
* Retail amenities are a bit better including several clothing stores, a bank, a drug store, florist, a couple barbershops & salons,  several auto centric businesses on 65 and walkable access to a supermarket (and many other amenities) that’s located in adjacent Bellevue.
* Decent but not great schools access with one well rated elementary schools and the schools in Bellevue (some school district) are somewhat walkable.
* Some very crummy modern in-fill along 65 but some good modern apartments/condos.
* Urban massing is a mixed bag. Pretty awful along 65 as its a auto centric blvd but very good massing along Lincoln Ave.

Emsworth, PA- a sleepy Pittsburgh historic suburb along the Ohio River

This small borough along the Ohio River in Allegheny County  Population arose in the 1870s and grew to 1,000 residents by 1900 taking advantage of its proximity to factory jobs along the Ohio and convenient rail service to Dwtn Pittsburgh. Emsworth’s population peaked in 1970 with just over 3,000 residents but has shrunk by about 1,000 souls. 

Emsworth’s attraction lies in its convenience to Dwtn; only a 15 minute drive and around a 30 minute bus ride to during commuting hours. It also has a stable set of single family homes in a quite and safe neighborhood setting. This has led to rising homes prices and it is now difficult to purchase a nice home here for less than 200K. But from an urban perspective there are lots of deficiencies mainly due to the Borough’s lack of retail and cultural amenities. Density is also low and ADA and bike infrastructure are lacking. My hope is that Emsworth and its neighboring inner ring suburbs urbanize and densify around improved public transit connections. There are plans by the Port Authority to re-open dedicated rail to the north Ohio river suburbs.

Click here to view my Emsworth Album on Flickr

URBAN STRENGTHS:

* Density access is so  but only a 15 minute drive to Dwtn and 20 minutes if you time the bus right. Oakland about 40 minutes by bus.
* Solid economic and generational diversity.
* Some nice historic homes but nothing spectacular.
* Solid tree canopy.
* For sale homes are moderately priced but stable. Product sells anywhere btwn high 100Ks to the low 300Ks.
* Emsworth Community Park is a solid and expansive park really nothing else.

URBAN WEAKNESSES:

* Urban density is rather poor.
* No dedicated bike lanes.
* ADA infrastructure and sidewalks are pretty hit or miss. Generally sidewalks but more often than not ADA infrastructure is not up to date.
* Limited racial diversity.
* Limited modern in-fill and most of it is auto centric.
* Some mixed-use development on Centre, which has decent urban, massing but most of the commercial is along state route 65 which is auto centric. It has sidewalks but they are located right next to fast moving traffic.
* The only school in the City is a small but quality Catholic High School. At least its walkable.
* Rentals are also moderately priced but very limited.
* Cultural amenities limited to a handful of restaurants, bars, a brewery, and a art gallery.
* Retail amenities limited to a handful of salons, a barber shop, a chiropractor, several churches, and some auto centric retail uses.

Sheraden- A westside urban district with convenient access to Dwtn Pittsburgh

Originally incorporated as Sheraden Borough in 1894, Sheridan quickly grew and was annexed by the City of Pittsburgh in 1907. The neighborhood became a hub for Irish and German immigrants in the early 20th century. Like most European Ethnic groups most families moved to the suburbs in the 70s on the westside leaving a large African American population behind. 

Sheraden has struggled ever since shedding at least several thousand residents leading to many pockets of blight and disinvestment. The commercial districts along Chartiers and the Sheraden and Hillsboro node also suffered as well leaving a handful of bars and restaurants, a dollar store, and several convenience stores. Yet with the rise in interest and values in Pittsburgh since the 2000s, Sheradan has begun to slowly rebound, most visibly with a rise in price of its attractive turn of the century housing stock now selling in the high 100s and low 200s. There are also several pockets of stable 1950s housing in the Corliss sub district on the hill tops. With a great central park (Sheraden Park), busway access, and downtown only 3.5 miles away, I’m confident the neighborhood will stabilize and hopefully revitalize a couple nice urban business nodes. The speed of this work ready depends on how serious the City of Pittsburgh is about revitalizing its blight. 
Click here to view my Sheraden page on Flickr

URBAN STRENGTHS:

* Solid public transit access, especially with the West Bus Way running through the neighborhood.
* Great access to Dwtn via public transit and driving. Access to Oakland a bit challenging via public transit.
* Good racially diversity with a surprisingly large Asian population. Large Pct of family households and good age diversity.
* Large range in housing prices from 25K-the low 200KS depends on condition, size, and amount of blight in a particular section of the neighborhood.
* Sheraden Park is a large and amenity rich park located at the heart of the neighborhood. Several other nice smaller parks throughout.
* Pretty good historic architecture especially in the nicer streets of Sheridan.
* Decent tree cover on the residential streets, excellent along the hill sides and hollers.

URBAN WEAKNESSES:

* Density is pretty low but better than other Westside neighborhoods.
* Sidewalks are generally pretty consistant but ADA curbs missing in most intersections. Also plenty of sidewalks are not in great condition.
* Very high poverty rate (around 36%) but still decant economic diversity.
* Rental product (at least officially listed) is very low here.
* Retail and cultural amenities are limited to a couple restaurants & bars, a dollar general and several convenience stores. Downtown McKees Rocks has some good amenities a mile away though.
* Crime doesn’t appear to be a more issue here, but still a fair amount of blight.
* One elementary school located is the community is fair at best. A Middle school with a stem focus is located in adjacent Crafton Heights.
* Limited modern in-fill but at least there are some stable 1940-1950 homes on the hillside portions of the neighborhood.
* Decent urban form at the small biz node of Sheraden and Hillsboro. Chartiers is a tired early 20th century mixed-use Pittsburgh run with some good urban form but few open businesses.
* The streetscape is pretty underinvested and has been touched in decades.
* Pedestrian activity is fair at best.

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.