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.




photos by kristi jan hoover

 

What’s Here?

Braddock
Though hard hit by the collapse of the steel industry, Braddock is a community filled with passionate residents looking to restore it to its former glory. The artists, activists and entrepreneurs who call it home join long-time residents in sharing high hopes for the town’s future.

North Braddock
The borough whose website touts it as being “Proud, Protected, Vibrant, Historical and Welcoming” earned its reputation as the birthplace of steel when Andrew Carnegie’s Edgar Thomson Steel Works opened here in 1875.

East Pittsburgh
East Pittsburgh got its start after the Westinghouse Electric & Manufacturing Co. built its first units here in 1894. Pioneer radio station KDKA-AM made its first transmission from the Westinghouse plant in 1920.

​Wilmerding
On the map as home of the historic Westinghouse Air Brake Co. General Office Building, Wilmerding was the first incorporated borough in the Turtle Creek Valley. 

Wall
With fewer than 600 residents today, Wall might be tiny, but it has a big history. The borough once laid claim to a freight depot of the Pennsylvania Railroad. Today, it’s home to Cornerstone Television Network’s WPCB-TV.

Trafford
Trafford reaches across two counties; most of the borough is in Westmoreland, but a small section stretches into Allegheny County. Incorporated in 1904, George Westinghouse named it after the town of Trafford near Manchester, England.

Duquesne
In this town named for Fort Duquesne and incorporated in 1891, the Duquesne Works steel mill brought employment and prosperity in the early 20th century. Today, about 5,500 people call the small city home. 

​McKeesport
Though settled in 1795, McKeesport didn’t become a city until 1891 as the population grew thanks to the expanding steel industry. Today, McKeesport is the second-largest city by population in Allegheny County.

East McKeesport
Named after the McKee family of pioneers in the area, the borough is located on a plateau between the Turtle Creek and Monongahela and Youghiogheny river valleys.

Versailles
Don’t let its local colloquial pronunciation fool you. The tiny borough locales refer to as “Ver-sales” actually is named for the palace in France.

North Versailles Township
With a heavily traveled portion of the Lincoln Highway within its borders, North Versailles is home to many businesses as well as several well-maintained neighborhoods. 

South Versailles Township
Steelers nation, swing a Terrible Towel in the direction of this township nestled along the Youghiogheny River — it’s the birthplace of team founder Art Rooney Sr.

White Oak
With a public pool, dek hockey rink, parks and playground, there’s no shortage of ways to have fun in White Oak.  

North Huntingdon
Located between Pittsburgh and Greensburg, North Huntingdon contains a busy commercial district on Route 30, quiet residential communities and quick access to the recreational areas of the Laurel Highlands.

Irwin
A quaint main street is home to an array of mom-and-pop shops and dining options. The borough calendar (irwinborough.org) is packed with regular events, including car cruises, craft shows, community flea markets, holiday parades and more.
 

Eat

The Colonial Grille & Taproom is a favorite in downtown Irwin with a diverse beer list of local brews as well as big-name domestics and imports. Its lengthy food menu offers wings, wraps, sandwiches, burgers and more. 333 Main St., colonialgrille.vpweb.com.

With sweeping views overlooking its namesake golf course and the Mon Valley beyond, The Restaurant at Grand View in North Braddock is an ideal spot for enjoying a memorable meal in the dining room or celebrating a special occasion. 1000 Clubhouse Drive, pittsburghgolf.com.

The Wooden Nickel Restaurant in North Huntingdon’s Norwin Town Square is the second location for the popular restaurant (the original is in Monroeville) serving up specialties from land and sea. 12120 State Route 30, thewoodennickelrestaurant.com.
 

Drink

Greenhouse Winery has its main location in Irwin (2155 Gracin Lane) and a satellite shop in North Huntingdon (10650 Route 30). Offering white, red and seasonal selections, it’s the perfect spot to stop for a tasting, pick up a gift or grab a bottle (or two) for yourself.; greenhousewinery.com.
 

Stop by Full Print Brewing in North Versailles to sip on one of the independent brewery’s signature beers, take a tour, grab a snack and enjoy.  1963 Lincoln Highway, fullpintbrewing.com.

The beers may be made in Export (see The Sprawling Suburbs), but the North Huntingdon outpost of Rivertowne Pub & Grille offers thirsty guests a great outdoor deck to enjoy whichever brew they selected. 14860 Route 30, myrivertowne.com.
 

Shop

Life is sweet at Dorothy’s Candies in White Oak, where one can find gourmet, handcrafted chocolates, cremes, candies, truffles and much more. Call ahead to arrange a tour of the factory.  1228 Long Run Road, dorothyscandies.com.
 

Search for treasures at The Lincoln Highway HUB in North Versailles. The antique mall features furniture, knickknacks, home decor, art and plenty of surprising finds. 1404 Lincoln Highway.

Main Street Music and Sound in Irwin is in tune with any musician’s needs. In addition to selling both used and new instruments, the shop also offers rentals and lessons.  327 Main St., mainstmusic.com.
 

Do

Take flight at the Altimate Air Trampoline Park in North Versailles. The state-of-the-art indoor park features more than 30 connected trampolines, a climbing wall and obstacle course.  1701 Lincoln Highway, altimateair.com.

There is so much more to the Braddock Carnegie Library than books. The building, a National Historic Landmark, is home to a print shop, puppet room, ceramics studio and even an art lending program which permits patrons to take pieces home.  419 Library St., braddockcarnegielibrary.org.

Looking to do some good with your free time? Why not volunteer at the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank in Duquesne? The nonprofit organization offers several ways to get involved both onsite and in the many communities it serves.  1 North Linden St., pittsburghfoodbank.org.
 


photo by CORY MORTON
 

Food Critic’s Pick

Sometimes you have to bring the food to where you are. That’s what the top-notch Braddock brewery The Brew Gentlemen does five days per week with regularly scheduled visits from Pittsburgh-area food trucks. Check the brewery’s website to find out when the Pittsburgh Taco Truck, Blowfish BBQ and others are visiting, and don’t miss the monthly food-truck roundups. Oh, there are 14 house-brewed beers on tap, too. (512 Braddock Ave., brewgentlemen.com) — Hal B. Klein
 

Signature Event

For more than 50 years, McKeesport has hosted the International Village, one of Pittsburgh’s oldest and largest ethnic festivals. Spread over three days in August in Renziehausen Park, where you’ll also find a fitness trail, a heritage museum and Pennsylvania’s second-largest rose garden, you can experience a plethora of ethnic foods, cultural demonstrations, entertainment, dancing, crafts, games and more. More than 20,000 people typically attend the event, so go early, go often and go hungry. (internationalvillage.info) — 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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