The Hidden East End

Pittsburgh’s eastern neighborhoods always have shown a broad socioeconomic spectrum, from extravagant wealth to dire poverty. 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.

photos by kristi jan hoover


What's Here?

Bridges span the Allegheny to connect this mostly residential community, the only neighborhood in Pittsburgh that itself straddles a river. Check the map: Waterworks Mall is here, not in Fox Chapel.

Originally an Italian immigrant neighborhood in the late 1800s, Larimer is experiencing the impact of overflow from booming neighbor East Liberty. Larimer’s centerpiece, Bakery Square, is a formerly shuttered Nabisco plant that Google now calls home.

Homewood West
Thoroughbreds raced on a track in Homewood more than a century ago. Now kids race their BMX bikes here in the Wheel Mill (see next page), a converted warehouse.

Homewood North
Some of the working-class townhouses here date back to the 1880s. This primarily residential hillside neighborhood also is home to an alternative high school, the Pittsburgh Student Achievement Center.

Homewood South
Here in 1894, John Moorhead Jr. buried six tin cans to make the city’s first golf course. Today, the lavishly appointed local Carnegie Library branch is a reminder of the steel tycoon who lived nearby.

East Hills
This neighborhood, a former dairy farm, was remade into a suburban-style residential community in the 1960s. This neighbor of Wilkinsburg is one of the most far-flung parts of the city proper from Downtown.

North Point Breeze
The grounds of George Westinghouse’s mansion, Solitude, now form a park. Railroad tracks and the Martin Luther King Busway separate this mixed-residential and warehouse district from Homewood.

Point Breeze
Stately mansions, particularly Henry Clay Frick’s Clayton, are reminders of this neighborhood’s earlier status as “millionaire’s row” for the city’s captains of commerce and industry. They couldn’t take it with them, even if the grandiose crypts of Homewood Cemetery suggest otherwise


Smoke pours from the sideways 55-gallon drums lined up next to the sidewalk at The Dream BBQ in Homewood South. Put some buttery, garlicky stewed cabbage, greens or green beans next to your rack of ribs to make dinner complete.  7600 N. Braddock Ave., 412/244-0355

You name it, they fry it at Hook Fish & Chicken in Homewood West, and not just catfish or tenders. We’re talking perch, whiting, wings, shrimp, scallops, oysters and — for the real fry-basket diehards — gizzards.  6960 Fifth Ave., 412/361-1060

When he opened in 1979, Joseph Simmons named Dana’s Bakery in Homewood South after his young daughter. She’s all grown up, but he still makes each sweet potato turnover, pineapple upside-down tart and puffy cake doughnut himself each morning.  720 N. Homewood Ave., 412/731-0929


In Thailand, they drank iced coffee before iced coffee was cool. So get yours from Thai Place in Lincoln-Lemington-Belmar, near Waterworks Mall. Owners Santi and Surin Thamwiwat opened the area’s first Thai restaurant back in 1989.  1034 Freeport Road,

The wine list is solid at Pino’s Contemporary Italian Restaurant & Wine Bar in Point Breeze. Or you could sip a house-made limoncello instead — or try an Italian cocktail featuring something from the array of imported and specialty bitters.  6738 Reynolds St.,

Who’s up for Bloody Marys? Get one for half-price during Sunday brunch at Social at Bakery Square in Larimer. Prefer mimosas? They get the same discount on Saturday mornings.  6425 Penn Ave.,


The walls are lined with jazz, R&B and gospel CDs at Dorsey’s Record Shop in Homewood South. Cornelius Dorsey used to fix radios in the back; now grandson Marcus offers VHS-to-DVD conversion and computer repair.  7614 Frankstown Ave.,

You could buy its hot sausage in the Strip District, but drop by Henry Grasso Co. in Larimer, a remnant of the neighborhood’s Italian roots, for the full selection of sausages, capicollo, slab bacon and kielbasa. It’s all made by Joe, the owner’s son.  716 Larimer Ave., 412/441-8126.

With more than 2,500 handpainted patterns and fiber in every color, including some that glow in the dark, Needle Point Breeze has everything required to make your own customized purse, iPad cover, throw pillow, wall hanging, belt, wedding gift or Christmas ornament.  6734 Reynolds St.,


Bring your mountain bike or rent one to grab big air on the ramps and jumps at The Wheel Mill in Homewood West. With 80,000 square feet on two levels, the converted warehouse is packed with tracks for novices and daredevils alike.  6815 Hamilton Ave.,


Milling machines, 3-D printers, laser cutters and a water jet that can bore through eight inches of steel in one pass. With a membership at TechShop Pittsburgh in Larimer, you get access to these and other tools for whatever project you dream up.  192 Bakery Square Blvd.,

Learn to paint or see an exhibit at the Pittsburgh Center for the Arts in Point Breeze, in the former home of industrialist Charles Marshall. Classes also are offered at another mansion next door.  6300 Fifth Ave.,

Food Critic's Pick

Pittsburgh’s restaurant scene has undergone a sea change in the past 10 years, but Point Brugge Cafe in Point Breeze has kept a steady hand and loyal clientele. The neighborhood eatery has an excellent Belgian beer list (and a solid overall bar program) and crowd-pleasing favorites such as mussels, a top-notch hamburger and steak frites. Those frites? They’re some of the best in town. (401 Hastings St., — Hal B. Klein

Signature Event

While walking through the stately Frick Art & Historical Museum and Clayton, the accompanying former home of the Frick family, it’s easy to imagine you’re living in the early 1900s. Add a summer evening with a glass of wine on the terrace and notes of fine music drifting through the air and it’s even easier. Summer Fridays at the Frick offer extended museum hours, a cash wine bar, food trucks, entertainment and opportunities for picnics on the lawn or dinner seatings at the Cafe at the Frick. Admission to the grounds as well as several programs are free. No matter how you choose to spend your evening, it’ll surely be a memorable — and timeless — occasion. ( — 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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