Scaling the Mountain

There’s a lot happening in the area between the South Side and the Hilltop, and every time you visit, it seems a new business has cropped up. The communities around Mount Washington enjoy beautiful views of the city as well as parks, strong neighborhood associations and ethnic restaurants.

photos by kristi jan hoover


What's Here?

South Side Flats
The South Side Flats contain the bustling business district along East Carson Street, with its many bars, restaurants, thrift shops and retailers.

South Side Slopes
The South Side Slopes are home to nearly 10 percent of the 712 sets of steps in Pittsburgh’s hillsides, which is a testament to the hilly terrain of this neighborhood. Many different styles of Catholic churches help to tell the story of Pittsburgh’s South Side.  

Mount Washington
More than inclines and beautiful views of the famous Pittsburgh skyline, Mount Washington is home to some of the most unique homes in the city as well as popular upscale restaurants.

Duquesne Heights
This hilltop residential community is accessible by the Duquesne Incline and is another option for homeowners looking to get city views without the Mount Washington price tag.

This neighborhood is in the midst of a major revitalization, as developers have taken notice of its prime hilltop real estate. The community still is recovering after losing regular light-rail “T” service years ago, but Allentown is getting a hip reputation as businesses and restaurants set up shop.

The steep hills and houses built in the early 1900s in the residential neighborhood of Arlington are quintessential Pittsburgh. The neighborhood is a popular choice for those looking for proximity to the South Side with a bit more peace and quiet.

Arlington Heights
This small neighborhood — less than one-sixth of a square mile — is nearly engulfed by Arlington and features the Devlin Park baseball field.

St. Clair
St. Clair is a tiny residential area that is home to the Lighthouse (810 Fisher St.,, a non-denominational church.  

Mount Oliver Borough
Established in 1892, the borough of Mount Oliver is surrounded by the city of Pittsburgh. Founded on lands acquired by Captain John Ormsby, it now has a population of about 3,300.

Mount Oliver
This city neighborhood is distinct from the adjacent Mount Oliver Borough, but it’s tiny — only about one-tenth of a square mile.  

The neighborhood of Knoxville used to benefit from nearby incline and electric railway access that made the area desirable for steel workers. The area houses more about 3,700 residents and a few churches in one-third of a square mile.

The residential neighborhood of Beltzhoover shares its riches with its neighbors — the up-and-coming business district of Warrington Avenue with Allentown and the spacious McKinley Park with Bon Air.

Bon Air
The city neighborhood has more of a country feel, with few roadways and extensive greenery. It’s fairly remote from the area’s main thoroughfares, making it a haven in the middle of busy city neighborhoods.

Some of the streets in Carrick are so steep that they give you the feeling of being on top of the double-dipping hill of the Jack Rabbit roller coaster at Kennywood. The area benefits from bus service and being close to “T” light-rail access, making it a popular place for anyone looking for a home base from which they can get around Pittsburgh without a car.


The Pub Chip Shop in the South Side Flats has expanded its offerings to include more than the fish and chips, Scotch eggs and savory pies that it’s done so well since opening in 2013. The English-style eatery reached a new level with its indulgent boxes of crispy tater tots smothered in gravy or cheese.  1830 E. Carson St.,

There’s always something new to discover among the assorted decorations of Family Restaurant in Carrick. The restaurant makes for a great meeting place and features succulent shish kabob, shawarma, savory pies and other Middle Eastern favorites.  2614 Brownsville Road, 412/881-8550.

The famously long line at Page Dairy Mart at the edge of the South Side Flats gives you ample time to change your mind (at least twice) while you wait. Page’s has an array of soft-serve ice-cream flavors, milkshakes and hot snacks — but the specialty sundae with Nancy B’s cookies takes the cake.  4600 E. Carson St.,


For a satisfying cup of coffee as dark as you’ll find in town — or however you like it — visit Black Forge Coffee House in Allentown. The coffee house sources its coffee and baked goods locally and doubles as an event space for concerts, comedy shows and club meetings.  1206 Arlington Ave.,

There should be another word besides “gastropub” for a bar that specializes in eclectic bar foods and fancy seasonal cocktails — just so we can give The Summit on Mount Washington its own distinction. Sure, there are craft beers, but people come for the peach juleps, autumn smashes and other inspired cocktails, too.  200 Shiloh St.,

There are plenty of places in the South Side Flats to get a beer, but when you want to treat yourself to a swanky cocktail served in ornate glassware, stroll over to Acacia.  2108 E. Carson St.,


Keep up with all of the clever, topical T-shirts that yinzers love with your regular patronage at Commonwealth Press in the South Side Flats. Retire that old Pirates shirt and pick up new threads that will help you make fast friends around town.  1931 E. Carson St.,

Bargain hunters swear by the selection of previously loved clothes and housewares at the Red, White and Blue Thrift Store in Bon Air.  890 Saw Mill Run Blvd.,

Treat yourself to a juicy chocolate-covered strawberry or a crunchy chocolate turtle at Esther’s Sweet Shop in Carrick and take note of the unique chocolate-drizzle patterns.  1814 Brownsville Road, 412/884-4224.


For less than you’d spend at a movie theater, you can go to Games N’at in the South Side Slopes for unlimited pinball, arcade games, pool and air hockey. The arcade is BYOB; the upper floor features four duckpin bowling lanes with nifty string pinsetters that you have to see.  2010 Josephine St.,

Spool in Allentown is a cheery, colorful DIY playground with maker parties and classes to make sewing social.  816 E. Warrington Ave.,

On Saturdays evenings in the summer, bring a picnic blanket to Grandview Park in Mount Washington for Cinema in the Park. At dusk, the city skyline sets the scene for a free, family-friendly cinematic adventure.  Bailey Ave.,

Food Critic's Pick

Pittsburgh is a city woefully short on hidden-gem restaurants, but Kavsar, an Uzbek restaurant on Mount Washington, is one of them. Tucked on a residential side street away from the tourist hubbub, the halal restaurant serves the cuisine of the high-mountain Silk Road, blending eastern and western flavor profiles in dishes such as lagman, manti and nuhot suhurak. Make sure to get an order of the homemade Uzbek bread. (16 Southern Ave., — Hal B. Klein

Signature Event

The 712 sets of public city steps in Pittsburgh are fascinating sights to behold. One neighborhood that has a lot of them, naturally, is the South Side Slopes. On one day in October, you can join the neighborhood association for StepTrek, a family-friendly, self-guided tour. It’s not only good exercise with breathtaking views, it’s a good item to check off the bucket list — Pittsburgh has more public city steps than any city in the country. (
— Lauren Davidson


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21 Great Communities

Around the Point

With exciting options for work, play and attractive new housing – these Pittsburgh neighborhoods are the places a rising number of urbanites want to call home.

The New North

If you venture to this neighborhood only to attend a sporting event or concert at PNC Park or Heinz Field, you’re missing out; the area is full of restaurants, museums, cultural landmarks and churches, as well as some lovely historic homes.

The Old Allegheny Slopes

No matter where you drive or walk in The Old Allegheny Slopes, you are probably going up or down a hill. This makes for a lot of good views, along with hidden surprises tucked into these city neighborhoods.

The Northern 'Burbs

The area commonly referred to as the North Hills maintains its long-held status as a fine suburban place to live or go for a walk in a nature park, but the area also offers plenty of shopping and dining and play options.

The Near East

There’s a reason all of the out-of-town trend pieces praising Pittsburgh’s 21st-century rebirth seem to focus on these neighborhoods. This thriving part of the city is where design, the arts, restaurant culture and high-end shopping are integrated into Pittsburgh’s working-class bones.

Where 8 Meets 28

The river communities that have been home to many families with histories in steel- and glass-making have a wealth of quaint, independent retail stores, restaurants and businesses, as well as much-loved libraries, festivals and community days.

Allegheny River Communities

Each borough and municipality in this northeastern corner of Allegheny County contains surprises. To those who live along the river’s edge, they’re familiar, hometown destinations and sights; to visitors, they’re spots worth making the drive out along (the finally construction-free) Route 28.

College Town

When people talk about the revitalization of Pittsburgh, it usually involves the tagline meds and eds — and meds and eds it is in College Town. You’ll find the sprawling buildings of Carnegie Mellon University, Carlow University and the University of Pittsburgh as well as several UPMC medical complexes.

Green Pittsburgh

Green Pittsburgh is a story of the birth and rebirth of our city: students and young professionals flock to Squirrel Hill and Shadyside, adding vibrancy that radiates from top universities. Meanwhile, redevelopment in Hazelwood and Glen Hazel offers new chances for affordable housing and a blossoming community.

The Hidden East End

The Mellons, Fricks, Carnegies and Westinghouses built their mansions in this most-stylish part of town. But their departure for greener and more secluded pastures — and the mass relocation of families here after the razing of the Lower Hill — left much of this area economically depressed for decades. Now the long-awaited renaissance of East Liberty is beginning to bring major reinvestment here, too.

The Eastern Border

Most of these communities, which lie to the east of the Squirrel Hill Tunnels, are residential suburbs with small business districts. There also are tons of beauty in these hills, which are packed with historic homes, parks, schools and churches, as well as evidence of Pittsburgh’s steel-making and industrial past.
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The Sprawling Suburbs

Roadways, which prompted the construction of shopping malls, always have played a key role in this region’s growth. Research labs for U.S. Steel, Westinghouse and others attracted engineers from around the world, particularly India, and the new immigrants often built temples — one of which is a familiar sight perched on a hillside overlooking I-376

The Mon and Beyond

Past meets the present in the communities making up Pittsburgh’s eastern and Mon Valley regions. Here you’ll encounter reminders of where we started as leaders in the steel industry and — while plenty of these small towns still face challenges — you’ll find glimpses of where we’re going in neighborhoods moving towards revitalization.

Scaling the Mountain

There’s a lot happening in the area between the South Side and the Hilltop, and every time you visit, it seems a new business has cropped up. The communities around Mount Washington enjoy beautiful views of the city as well as parks, strong neighborhood associations and ethnic restaurants.

The Reborn 'Burbs

This is where the city’s southern suburbs begin, at the edge of the city limits and drifting into the areas closest to Pittsburgh proper. Along the south bank of the Monongahela River — in an area with heavy industrial roots — you’ll find neighborhoods in the midst of revitalization, with plenty of business and more quaint places to live.

Far Down the River

Pittsburgh loves its blue-collar industrial history, and at the heart of that are the communities that make up the Mon Valley. Where the Monongahela and Youghiogheny rivers meet is the beginning of a network of proud, tight-knit communities with lots of trails and woods to explore, plenty of fishing spots and — important for any community — a wealth of beloved soft-serve ice cream stands.

The Southern Suburbs

With their abundance of green spaces, thriving business districts and walkable sidewalk communities, Pittsburgh’s southern suburbs offer plenty of incentive for families looking for a peaceful place to call home. Though mere minutes from Downtown, these neighborhoods make residents feel as though they are worlds away from the hustle and bustle of city life.

The Midwest

The neighborhoods west of Downtown were among the region’s first. Most were part of Chartiers Township, which (like the creek) was named for Pierre Chartier, a local trader of French and Shawnee parentage who later became a chief. Formerly farmland, most of this area was transformed by industry into working-class neighborhoods, a legacy which persists today.

Down the Highways

While driving southbound on Interstate 79, don’t be scared to take an exit and explore. These townships and boroughs range from scenic farmland to busy main streets. Regardless of the surroundings, the areas in this region all offer plenty to experience.

The Far-Flung 'Burbs

These primarily residential communities have spent the past years growing — and becoming more and more popular. With Pittsburgh International Airport nearby and increasing economic development, it’s easy to see why so many call this end of the region home.

The Ohio River Valley

The lands north of the Ohio River became part of the Depreciation Lands used to pay Revolutionary War veterans for their service. The numerous small boroughs and townships along Ohio River Boulevard are collected into slightly larger (but still compact) school districts, befitting their continued status as popular hometowns to raise families generation after generation.
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Getting Around & More

Your Guide to Getting There

How to make your way through construction, inscrutable directions and traffic and (quickly) get to everything Pittsburgh has to offer.

Six More Things You Might Not Know about Pittsburgh

The thing that annoyed a young Andy Warhol. A typo broadcast over the city skyline. And how our first mayor outwitted hostile natives at age 13. All of this and much more in the latest edition of Things You Might Not Know About Pittsburgh!

The Easy and Practical Newcomer's Guide to Pittsburgh

Here's everything you need to know about getting settled in the Steel City.
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