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. The character of these communities has remained fundamentally unchanged even as commerce and culture have experienced a time of unprecedented growth.




photos by kristi jan Hoover

 

What's Here?

Polish Hill
Named for the immigrants who once filled the row houses of this hillside community, the close-knit neighborhood surrounding the Immaculate Heart of Mary church has re-emerged as a home to young professionals and families seeking proximity to Downtown and the blossoming neighborhoods of the East End.

Lower Lawrenceville
The closest piece of booming Lawrenceville to Downtown has steadily added dining and cultural destinations for more than a decade. The neighborhood’s industrial past still is evident in the riverfront warehouses separating the residential and commercial portion of the neighborhood from the Allegheny River.

Central Lawrenceville
Most often identified with the thriving heart of Butler Street, Central Lawrenceville’s large footprint extends away from the river to encompass sprawling, historic Allegheny Cemetery as well as Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC. Row houses and apartments here are some of the most coveted in town.

Upper Lawrenceville
The smallest neighborhood with Lawrenceville in its name illustrates the area’s ability to balance its new identity with its longtime status as a working-class neighborhood. Want proof? If you’re looking for dinner, you can choose between nationally lauded dining destination Cure (5336 Butler St., curepittsburgh.com) on one corner and hometown mainstay Nied’s Hotel (5348 Butler St., niedshotel.myfastsite.com) on the next.

Stanton Heights
Want to be surrounded by the amenities and destinations of the Near East but still be able to sit on your front porch and enjoy a bit of peace and quiet? Consider getting a place in Stanton Heights, an almost wholly residential neighborhood right in the heart of the Near East.

Morningside
The long, thin neighborhood separating Stanton Heights from Highland Park hosts a number of small businesses along still-growing Morningside Avenue. Like its neighbors, it offers plenty of residential areas and in homes that date to the early 1900s.

Highland Park
Booming Highland Park is home to an ever-popular collection of restaurants on Bryant Street, the ample green space surrounding the Highland Park Reservoir and the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium.

East Liberty
The site of concentrated and continuous redevelopment throughout the past few decades, East Liberty has been alternately praised as a model of community reinvention and criticized as an example of gentrification. Either way, there’s plenty to see, do and eat in this iconic Pittsburgh neighborhood.

Garfield
The area flanking Allegheny Cemetery contains a sizable stretch of the Penn Avenue Arts District (pennavenue.org), an area rife with creative and design-focused businesses. Its sought-after location and wealth of parks also make Garfield a popular place to live.

Bloomfield
Pittsburgh’s “Little Italy” didn’t need much reinvention — the neighborhood has been a destination for dining and shopping, as well as a thriving community — for many years. The flow of traffic (cars, bikes and pedestrians) meeting and moving along Liberty Avenue in Bloomfield continues nearly 24 hours a day.

Friendship
Small and mostly residential, Friendship filled a significant vacancy with the transformation of the vacant, former Day Baum Chevrolet dealership into an ALDI supermarket. The neighborhood also is home to Pittsburgh Montessori PreK-5.
 


photos via pints on penn Facebook Page
 

Eat

Looking for an ideal summer evening in Lower Lawrenceville? Grab a table on the second-floor deck at Pints on Penn. Pair the sweet and spicy bacon skewers appetizer with a beer cocktail as the sun sets.  3523 Penn Ave, pintsonpenn.com
 

Spak Brothers in Garfield is best known as a pizza joint, but don’t overlook the indulgent, satisfying hoagies. Vegetarians and vegans have a great option here: the Seitan Cheese “Steak,” available with real or vegan cheese.  5107 Penn Ave., spakbrothers.com
 


photo by adam milliron

 

There’s Italian food like grandma used to make, and then there are the refined takes on the classics available at e2 in Highland Park. Start with the beans and greens; wherever you go from there will be delicious.  5904 Bryant St., e2pgh.com
 

Drink

Gooski’s in Polish Hill retains its status as one of Pittsburgh’s most celebrated dive bars. Dress the part and catch up with friends over cheap beer and great wings.  3117 Brereton St., 412/681-1658

The protoypical neighborhood bar, Bulldog Pub in Morningside benefits from an attentive and helpful staff for those unsure of how they’d like to wet their whistle. Beer snobs should note the higher-end European bottles in the cooler.  1818 Morningside Ave., bulldog-pub.com

Make sure you order a refreshing beer from the varied choices at Caliente Pizza & Draft House in Bloomfield; after you sample some of the spicy grub, you’ll need something crisp to wash it down.  4624 Liberty Ave., pizzadrafthouse.com
 

Shop

Admit it: You want your children to have cooler toys than the neighbor’s children. This goal can be achieved by browsing the thoughtful and often educational wares at Dragonfly Castle Toys in Central Lawrenceville.  4747 Butler St., facebook.com/dragonflycastle

Find the perfect gift for that cigar-loving friend at The Cigar Den in Upper Lawrenceville. Even if you’re a novice, staff will gladly point you in the right direction; if you’re looking to relax, you can puff a purchase in style right in the store.  5268 Butler St., thecigardenpgh.com

Walking around Lower Lawrenceville can make you want to upgrade your style. Your first stop: Pavement, specializing in shoes, accessories and much more.  3629 Butler St., pavementpittsburgh.com
 

Do

Sure, you’ll see the lions, tigers and (polar) bears at the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium in Highland Park. Make time to acquaint yourself with a less-popular creature, too — the Visayan warty pigs are particularly charming.  7340 Butler St., pittsburghzoo.org

Adventure Bingo (adventurebingo.net) at Union Pig & Chicken in East Liberty is unlike the fire-hall version of the game. Yes, there are cards and daubers, but when certain numbers are called, players are asked pointed and hilarious trivia questions for a chance at prizes.  218 N. Highland Ave., unionpgh.com

It’s not rare to catch one of your all-time favorite flicks playing at Row House Cinema in Central Lawrenceville. The single-screen cinema shows repertory favorites along weekly themes, ranging from specific directors to thematic ties.  4115 Butler St., rowhousecinema.com
 

Food Critic's Pick

If you’re looking for a vegan eatery, point your GPS to Apteka in Bloomfield. Owners Kate Lasky and Tomasz Skowronski dig into their eastern European heritage while spinning the menu to a 100 percent plant-based cuisine. Nothing is lost in translation, though: Kartofle & jogurtem, for example, is a comforting dish of boiled potatoes, sauerkraut, lingonberry jam and yogurt, which is cultured in-house from nut milks. The innovative and affordable cocktail menu also is worth exploring. (4606 Penn Ave., aptekapgh.com)
— Hal B. Klein
 

Signature Event

It’s a neighborhood holiday tradition built on one of the best holiday traditions: cookies. The Joy of Cookies Cookie Tour in Lawrenceville takes place every December and has expanded from one day to four. Businesses hand out cookies (often homemade) and recipe cards so visitors can duplicate what they taste. On the Saturday of the event, a trolley traverses the neighborhood to help people get from place to place, and a Cookie Mall with a bake sale and eggnog samples from Turner Dairy is held at the Boys & Girls Club. (lvpgh.com/cookietour) — 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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