The Eastern Border

Most of these communities, which lie to the east of the Squirrel Hill Tunnels, are residential suburbs with small business districts — but don’t take that as a reason not to visit. There’s 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, with warehouses, former blast furnaces and brownfields lining the Monongahela River and small waterways such as Turtle Creek.




photos by kristi jan hoover
 

What’s Here?

Swisshelm Park
While it lies within the city limits, this residential neighborhood has a very suburban feel. It’s surrounded by Frick Park, the Monongahela River and Swissvale.

Regent Square
Several municipalities lay a claim to a slice of this neighborhood, including Pittsburgh, Wilkinsburg, Edgewood and Swissvale; the portion within Pittsburgh is the officially recognized neighborhood of Regent Square. Its South Braddock Avenue business district divides the municipalities but unites the neighborhood, boasting restaurants, bars, bakeries, boutiques and salons.

​Wilkinsburg
This borough along Pittsburgh’s eastern border has faced a challenging year; six people were killed here in a mass shooting in March, and the borough’s school district opted to shutter its high school in the face of budget constraints and dwindling enrollment. The borough is working to draw businesses back to storefronts, churches and homes, however.

Edgewood
The Parkway East cuts through this picturesque, residential community, and Edgewood Towne Centre (1763 S. Braddock Ave.) and the Western Pennsylvania School for the Deaf (300 E. Swissvale Ave., wpsd.org) sit within its borders.

​Swissvale
This bedroom community, minutes from Downtown and situated along the Parkway East, is a longtime working-class hometown known for reasonably priced food and drink at local favorite bars and take-out spots.

Rankin
This borough is home to the Carrie Furnace, which once produced iron for U.S. Steel’s Homestead Works. The blast furnace, like most of Pittsburgh’s steel industry, closed its doors 30 years ago; today, it’s seeing new life as a museum and event space.

Braddock Hills
In the middle of this former coal town is the peaceful, 65-acre All Saints Catholic Cemetery (1560 Brinton Road, ccapgh.org/all-saints.asp).

Forest Hills
If you’re driving east on Route 30 through this busy borough, you’ll understand that it’s aptly named well before you get to the sign announcing you’re in Forest Hills, “A Tree City, USA.”

Churchill
The campus of Woodland Hills High School, which educates students from 12 surrounding municipalities, is located in this largely residential community.

Wilkins Township
Part of busy Route 22 runs through here, so next time a friend suggests meeting at Rey Azteca (3448 William Penn Highway, 412/829-7006) in Monroeville, you can show off your impressive knowledge of municipal boundaries by countering that the Mexican restaurant is, in fact, in Wilkins Township.

​Chalfant
This comparatively diminutive borough is just 0.2 acres in size and home to less than 1,000 people.

Turtle Creek
This borough, which boomed when George Westinghouse built a plant nearby, now is home to about 5,000 people — and a mayor named Kelley Kelley. To many Pittsburghers, Turtle Creek is known for being part of Penguins broadcaster Mike Lange’s signature goal calls.
 

Eat

Come lunchtime,  The Green Mango draws workers from nearby Wilkins Township office parks like moths to a flame. Its lengthy menu has something for everyone; the Rad Na noodles are a winter favorite, and a mango salad is perfect for a summer lunch at one of the restaurant’s outdoor tables.  3462 William Penn Highway, 412/824-9500.

​Cibo, an intimate eatery in the heart of Regent Square, prepares Italian and Mediterranean dishes with fresh takes on spaghetti and ravioli as well as adventurous menu items such as elk carpaccio.  1103 S. Braddock Ave., cibopittsburgh.com.

Framed maps line the walls the Map Room Grill & Bar in Swissvale, a friendly neighborhood bar and grill serving American fare.  1126 S. Braddock Ave., 412/371-1955.
 

Drink

If you’re a beer lover, you’re likely to be intimately familiar with The Beer Cave at D’s Six Pax & Dogz in Swissvale. In addition to having one of the best bottle selections in town, D’s also is a great spot for a dog or pizza with a cold one.  1118 S. Braddock Ave., ds6pax.com.

Stop by Roman Bistro in Forest Hills for a six-pack from its bottle shop on the way home from work, or stay and enjoy Italian-inspired fare with a glass of wine or a beer from its large draft list.  2104 Ardmore Blvd., romanbistro.com.
 

On a warm summer day, nothing beats an iced coffee beverage on the shady porch at Biddle’s Escape in Wilkinsburg.  401 Biddle Ave., biddlesescape.com.
 

Shop

Head to Habitat for Humanity’s ReStore, now located in Braddock Hills after relocating from Edgewood Towne Centre, to stock up on reusable home-improvement materials for your next DIY project.  212 Yost Blvd., pittsburghhabitat.org/restore.

If you’re into upcycling materials for your house, why not upcycle your clothes, too? Edgewood consignment shop Fashion Fix offers shoppers the chance to give clothes, shoes and bags a second life.  1039 S. Braddock Ave., fashionfixpgh.com.
 

Whether you’re looking for art that lets light through or you’re hoping to preserve cracked stained glass, you’ll be floored by Glenn Greene Stained Glass. Greene does custom work as well as repairs from his Regent Square studio. (Call ahead: 412/243-2772.)  635 S. Braddock Ave., Rear; glenngreenestudio.com.
 

Do

Nine Mile Run Trail runs between Nine Mile Run in Frick Park and the border of Swisshelm Park. In Pittsburgh’s days as a steel town, the now-picturesque area was a slag dump. Thanks to the efforts of the Nine Mile Run Watershed Association and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, it’s a model of how a city once covered in soot can restore its rivers, streams and green spaces; ninemilerun.org.

Take a tour of the Carrie Furnace, located along the Monongahela River in Rankin. Tours, conducted by the Rivers of Steel National Heritage Area, run from May through October; riversofsteel.com.

The Borough of Forest Hills (foresthillspa.org) offers a number of recreation programs, including tennis, basketball and swimming, and its community pool (400 Braddock Road) is undergoing a major overhaul this summer.
 


photo by laura petrilla
 

Food Critic’s Pick

I love how Executive Chef Keith Fuller bends boundaries with his cuisine at Root 174 in Regent Square. His food is familiar enough to be comfortable but edgy enough to keep adventurous diners interested in what’s on the plate. Fuller shows his whimsical side with special events such as the annual “May the Fourth Be With You” dinner, a celebration of all things Star Wars. (1113 S. Braddock Ave., root174.com) — Hal B. Klein
 

Signature Event

Each fall, you can experience a different Shakespeare play in a different type of setting. Pittsburgh Shakespeare in the Parks brings one of the bard’s classics to life in numerous city parks (including Frick Park) during weekends in September. The free performances feature a full cast with costumes and a minimalist set, and the shows are entertaining as well as community-minded; children and pets frequently are found in the audiences. Don’t leave without a T-shirt that says “As Yinz Like It.” (pittsburghshakespeare.org) — 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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