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.




photos by kristi jan hoover

 

What's Here?

Homestead
The neighborhood where the storied Homestead Grays once played has long been a center of culture and industry as well as a residential center. The wealth of businesses, restaurants and companies located in Homestead today maintain that legacy.

Munhall
This charming community of 2.4 square miles has big yards and sidewalks and was shaped by the steel industry from its beginning in 1879. It has re-emerged as a destination for first-time home buyers.

West Homestead
A wee borough located (you guessed it) across the western border of Homestead, West Homestead is the home of Sandcastle Waterpark. It has two primary residential communities: the historic district and the Village, a hilltop community.

Whitaker
Across the Rankin Bridge from Rankin Borough lies the tiny borough of Whitaker, which has native actor Jeff Goldblum of “Jurassic Park” as a claim to fame.

West Mifflin
The Pittsburgh metropolitan area is full of tiny of boroughs, townships and neighborhoods. West Mifflin isn’t one of them: This huge suburb, home of the historic Kennywood Park (4800 Kennywood Blvd., kennywood.com), has more than 20,000 residents and 14.4 square miles of space.

Hays
This isn’t actually a suburb but rather a city neighborhood in the 31st Ward of Pittsburgh. The neighborhood lost most of its population when the Hays Army Ammunition Plant closed, but the mostly undeveloped area still has at least two famous residents: a pair of nesting bald eagles.

New Homestead
What? A third Homestead? Yes, and this tiny community also is part of the city’s 31st Ward. Some families have lived for generations in this quiet, tucked-away neighborhood.

Lincoln Place
Located at the far southeastern tip of Pittsburgh, this city neighborhood has a Mayberry-like country feel to it. Wander long enough and you’ll find wild turkey and deer roaming.
 

Eat

Bishop’s Pizza, a popular local mini-chain with five locations, has two in The Reborn ’Burbs: Whitaker (114 Whitaker St.) and West Mifflin (428 Lebanon Road). Check the website for each location’s menu, as selections can vary.  bishopspizza.com.

Secrets Bar & Grill in West Mifflin has this motto: “So good, you’ll have to tell.” The real secret here is the ownership’s Philadelphia roots and the subsequent Philly Cheesesteak on the menu.  633 McGowan Ave., facebook.com/secretsismybar.
 

If you’re craving sugar, check out the Mantsch Blue Bonnet Bakery in Homestead, where customers rave about confections including coconut crullers, chocolate-chip cookies and apricot pockets. Mmmm.  338 E. Eighth Ave., 412/462-4957.
 

Drink

The Happy Hour Saloon in Whitaker is a family-owned business of more than three decades. Play some pool and sip a draft beer while jockeying for jukebox control. The place has a selection of draft and bottled beers and other cocktails, along with pool tables and a jukebox.  129 W. Schwab Ave., facebook.com/thehappyhoursaloon.

You can enjoy music, food and drinks at Mulligan’s Sports Bar and Grill in West Mifflin. When it’s not filled with the sound of live music, Mulligan’s is a popular gathering place for those looking to catch a game over a drink or a meal.  1013 Lebanon Road, mulliganspgh.com.

For a laid-back hangout with good drinks, visit Pisci’s Bar in Munhall. This is a place people congregate during sports games — and don’t overlook the food menu.  4501 Main St., 412/464-5181.
 

Shop

To find just about anything you seek, go shopping at The Waterfront. This destination along the shores of the Monongahela River brings together more than 70 stores, restaurants, hotels and other businesses, including the AMC Loews Waterfront 22 Theater, waterfrontpgh.com.
 

If you’re a fan of the Steel City Con events, you’ll love Too Groovy Pop Culture Toys in Munhall. This store, which also buys toys for resale, sells retro everything, from “Star Wars” to Barbies and G.I. Joe figurines.  3905 Main St., toogroovytoys.com.

Still rocking plates from your college apartment? Upgrade your kitchen at Annex Cookery in Homestead. You’ll find everything from pots and pans to one-of-a-kind decor. 218 E. Eighth Ave., annexcookery.com.
 

Do

West Homestead caters to the large population of Pittsburgh-area residents of Eastern European descent at the Bulgarian Macedonian National Educational and Cultural Center. The center hosts ethnic activities all year.  449 W. Eighth Ave., bmnecc.org.

For those looking to enjoy underwater fun outside of a simple neighborhood pool, Sandcastle Waterpark in West Homestead is open daily from early June through Labor Day. The park has everything from kiddie slides to thrill attractions — such as its newest draw, the Dragon’s Den.  1000 Sandcastle Drive, sandcastlewaterpark.com.

The region’s biggest concerts may happen at Consol Energy Center and First Niagara Pavilion, but you can find plenty of top artists giving intimate performances at the Carnegie Library Music Hall in Munhall, which in May 2016 hosted ’80s pop icon Cyndi Lauper.  510 E. 10th Ave., librarymusichall.com.
 

Food Critic's Pick

There’s a lot of hip happening in Pittsburgh today, so sometimes it’s important to get back to your roots. That’s why I love the Old School Italian Sandwich Shop in Munhall so much. Everything from the warm welcome at the door to the crushable food on the plate speaks to comfort and family. Go for the “The Playground,” a classic Chicago-style beef sandwich with sauteed sweet peppers or spicy giardiniera, or grab a meatball sandwich with peppers and Parmesan cheese. (609 E. Ninth Ave (rear), oldschoolitalian.com) — Hal B. Klein
 


photo courtesy the abraham hays foundation inc.
 

Signature Event

Tour Hays Mansion in Munhall as part of the Hays Mansion Memorial Day Weekend Celebration. Nearly two years after the approximately 150-year-old mansion was removed from a projected demolition list, the community came together in 2015 to host an annual celebration of the holiday and local history. The event includes music and remarks from members of The Abraham Hays Foundation, which maintains the historical site. The highlight is the 25-room home, which is purported to have been a stop on the Underground Railroad. (munhallpa.us/events) — Lauren Davidson
 

 

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21 Great Communities

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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.

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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

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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.

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Allegheny River Communities

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College Town

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Green Pittsburgh

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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

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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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