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. You can find just about any chain business in the country here — but there also are smaller local gems to discover.




photos by kristi jan hoover

 

What's Here?

Marshall Township
This northernmost Allegheny County community, just south of the Butler County line, is mostly residential. It also contains two Indian trails, a meteorite, oil wells and more.

Bradford Woods
This upscale area, the hometown of pop princess Christina Aguilera, originally served as a summer getaway for wealthy Pittsburghers.

Franklin Park
When you drive down Brandt School Road close to Interstate 79, you cut through the heart of Franklin Park. This area contains lots of fertile produce orchards, namely the popular Soergel Orchards (2573 Brandt School Road, soergels.com).

McCandless
This booming suburban area, bisected by the upper section of McKnight Road, has a ton of new commercial development at McCandless Crossing (mccandlesscrossing.com).

Pine Township
Much of what we think of as Wexford, a postal area and village rather than an official municipality, is actually in Pine, including most of the commercial corridor along Route 19 above the McKnight Road split.

Hampton Township
This affluent suburb earned the distinction of being named one of the top 10 places in the country for families by Family Circle magazine in 2010.

Richland Township
Singing star Jackie Evancho’s hometown is a community of more than 11,000 people and also the location of Chatham University’s eco-themed Eden Hall campus.

West Deer Township
This community has two golf courses and the unusual distinction of having a municipally operated dog shelter, which is run by volunteers.

Ross Township
Every shopping need you ever had can be met here. The McKnight Road corridor (often called “McKnightmare” by area residents due to dense traffic) hosts big-box stores, chains and outposts of local favorites.

West View
This municipal doughnut hole surrounded by Ross Township has an old-fashioned business district along a stretch of Route 19. It once was the site of now-defunct Kennywood rival West View Park.

Cranberry Township
Once a small and relatively rural community, Butler County’s Cranberry Township — particularly the Route 19 corridor — now is a bustling commercial center. As of August 2015, Cranberry also hosts the UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex, the training home of the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Mars
Always the butt of Martian jokes, this quiet community has a sense of humor about its name — check out the flying saucer in the middle of town.

Zelienople
Route 19 turns into South Main Street when it cuts through this charming, historic town 28 miles north of Pittsburgh. The Zelienople Historical Society (zelienoplehistoricalsociety.com) operates two historical house museums: the Passavant and Buhl houses.

Harmony
This town with German roots welcomes the holidays with the Harmony Museum’s annual Weihnachtsmarkt, a German-style Christmas bazaar. At the Harmony Museum (218 Mercer St., harmonymuseum.org), guests celebrate New Year’s Eve in old German style with the Silvester event.

Adams Township
As Ross Township surrounds West View, Adams Township surrounds Mars. The township, named for President John Quincy Adams, was founded in 1854 and underwent a population boom in the 2000s due to its proximity to busy Cranberry Township.

Seven Fields
Follow Route 228 east from Cranberry Township, and you’ll drive right into this borough, which is 1 square mile but contains businesses and restaurants.

Evans City
This borough is a destination for horror-movie buffs, as George Romero’s “Night of the Living Dead” was filmed in Evans City Cemetery. But the community isn’t all spooky; there’s a charming business district.
 

Eat

Some of the most interesting (and tasty) hamburgers in the region are found at Burgh’ers in Harmony. The rotating selection of wild game (alligator, kangaroo, wild boar, etc) sets this restaurant apart from the normal joint.  100 Perry Highway, burghersinc.com

Located in a surprising spot by the PennDOT Driver’s License Center in Allison Park, Blue North Restaurant provides a menu with mostly local, organic and sustainable ingredients and offers nightly wine and dinner specials.  1701 Duncan Ave., bluenorth1701.com

Bistro 9101, a McCandless restaurant nestled along Perry Highway, features Chef Sean Minahan’s cuisine. Guests are welcomed with a freshly roasted bulb of garlic and a toasted baguette.  9101 Perry Highway, bistro9101.com
 

Drink


photo by richard cook

 

When Ross native Chris Jamison did well in Season 7 of “The Voice,” big crowds of his fans gathered at Rum Runners Saloon for show-watching parties. Along with its drink list including beers, wines and cane-rum mojitos, Rum Runners offers a variety of burgers.  3385 Babcock Blvd., rumrunnerssaloon.com

Jergel’s Rhythm Grille in Warrendale is a bar and grill that is hosting more and more entertainment events. With a large “Wines That Rock” menu along with beer and mixed drinks, you can wet your whistle while watching acts such as Soul Asylum and Shooter Jennings, both recent visitors.  103 Slade Lane, jergels.com

No jokes about Mars Bars, please — but there are bars in Mars, including the Breakneck Tavern. This gastropub offers sustainable craft beers, along with farm-to-table dishes with Southern and Cajun accents.  273 Mars Valencia Road, breaknecktavern.com
 


photo by richard Cook
 

Shop

We would be remiss not to include the headquarters of North Hills shopping: Ross Park Mall. Here, you will find everything from national department stores to upscale retailers such as Nordstrom, LL Bean and Banana Republic.  1000 Ross Park Mall Drive, simon.com/mall/ross-park-mall

Farther north in Cranberry Township, shopaholics must stop at The Streets of Cranberry. This outdoor mall is packed with retailers including New York & Company and Merle Norman.  20406 Route 19, thestreetsofcranberry.com
 

If you want to do some farm-and-orchard shopping, check out Kaelin Farm Market in Franklin Park. It harvests produce from 140 acres; its peaches are legendary.  2547 Brandt School Road, kaelinfarms.com
 

Do

Set to open this fall, the McCandless Town Museum will give local history lovers a new spot to visit. The replica of a one-room schoolhouse will hold the collection of longtime local history buff Joseph Bullick, with items from McCandless Township, the North Allegheny School District and surrounding communities.  900 block of Ingomar Road, townofmccandless.org
 

During any season of the year, you can find fun for all ages at Wildwood Highlands in Hampton Township. Here, you can try everything from bumper cars to laser tag.  2330 Wildwood Road, wildwoodpa.com
 

If you want to see a movie with quaint charm and avoid the crowded ultra-modern theaters, go to Zelienople’s landmark Strand Theater. In addition to recent and classic films, the Strand hosts musicals, stand-up comedy and more.  119 N. Main St., thestrandtheater.org
 


photo by laura petrilla

 

Food Critic's Pick

Some of the best pizza in Pittsburgh can be found tucked away in the Harmony mini-mall that houses Della Terra Italian Bistro. Executive chef/owner Fiore Moletz and his crew bake slow-fermented dough to perfection in a wood-fired oven. Moletz sources much of his food from neighboring farms, even sometimes using eggs from his own chickens in the pasta dough. That pasta, by the way, is very good. The menu changes with the seasons. (100 Perry Highway, dellaterrapgh.com)
— Hal B. Klein
 

Signature Event

Summer in the suburbs means festivals, swimming pools and fireworks. The Hampton Township Independence Day Community Celebration, held during the Fourth of July weekend at the Hampton Community Center, combines all three. There’s free swimming, free classic-rock and oldies concerts, games, a foul-shooting contest, food booths and other family-friendly activities. The daylong event culminates in a dazzling pyrotechnics display. (hampton-pa.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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