Where 8 Meets 28

The completed construction on Route 28 makes access to these northern neighborhoods a breeze — which is great because these boroughs increasingly are becoming destinations. 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 enjoyed by locals since well before their neighborhoods were starting to buzz.




photo by chuck beard
 

What's Here?

Sharpsburg
This little borough has an industrial history of manufacturing iron, brick and glass — notably glassware for the H.J. Heinz Company, which got its start here. Even though the borough is under 1 square mile, Sharpsburg claims some prime riverfront real estate with a public boat launch at James Sharp Landing.

Shaler Township
Home to smaller villages (the designations between an official municipality and something called a “census-designated place” are murky) such as Cherry City, Bauerstown, Elfinwild and Glenshaw, tree-covered Shaler Township is home to approximately 29,000 people.

Reserve Township
Covering 2 square miles of hilltop real estate, Reserve is a township that mixes quiet suburban living with hillside farms. The township was founded on lands “reserved” for Revolutionary War veterans.

Millvale
The secret of Millvale is out; the borough that lies across the 40th Street Bridge from Lawrenceville has become a destination for artists, craft-beer enthusiasts and those who enjoy outdoor recreation. Millvale is nearly 150 years old, and in that time, the former industrial community has retained its rural feel, brick roads and small, independent businesses.

Etna
This small town is the gateway to the communities along Route 8 as you head away from Pittsburgh. Plenty of variety can be found among Etna’s businesses and restaurants; you’ll find charming shops such as old-school hardware store Winschel Hardware (346 Butler St., 412/781-0593) and institutions such as the fabled Halloween attraction The ScareHouse ( 118 Locust St., scarehouse.com).

Aspinwall
This charming, tiny borough is home to many narrow, brick, one-way streets, beautiful Victorian homes and a vibrant, upscale business district perfect for a Sunday stroll.
 


photos by kristi jan hoover
 

Eat

If you’re serious about quality desserts, visit Jean-Marc Chatellier’s French Bakery in Millvale. The croissants and macarons are sublime — but make don’t leave without a fruit tart for yourself and another for your amour.  213 North Ave., jeanmarcchatellier.com.

Seafood is the star at Luke and Mike’s Frontporch Grille in Aspinwall. While there, take time to observe the historic building and the colorful neighborhood mural outside.  235 Commercial Ave., frontporchgrille.com.

You’ll wish you thought of the brilliant omelet-ingredient combos on the menu at Cafe on Main in Sharpsburg. If you aren’t in the mood for a savory breakfast, the cafe offers delicious, decadent waffles, too.  914 Main St., facebook.com/cafeonmainstreet.
 

Drink

Try a sour beer — and then try an even more sour beer — at Draai Laag in Millvale. Draai Laag brews an array of Belgian-style beers which you can enjoy while playing board games in the taproom.  501 E. Ohio St., draailaag.com.

Take advantage of the new patio area at Cornerstone Restaurant & Bar in Aspinwall to enjoy an old-fashioned cocktail with a twist. The bar also has happy-hour specials every weekday and touts an array of classic American beers, microbrews and international wines.  301 Freeport Road, cornerstonepgh.com.

Alioto’s in Etna is an ideal neighborhood spot for catching a Pens game. The bar has survived two major floods since it opened in 1965; the drinks and pizza will make you glad it endured.  17 Grant Ave., aliotos.biz.
 

Shop

Get ready to win a reputation as the best houseguest ever when you show up with a decorative plant from McTighe’s Garden Center and beer from the adjacent McTighe’s Drive Thru Beer Distributor in Shaler.  1609 and 1607 William Flynn Highway, 412/486-1909.

It’s a bit of a pilgrimage scaling the steep and winding Mt. Troy Road to Brenckle’s Farms & Greenhouses in Reserve, but claiming a lush hanging basket at the end makes it all worth it. Make sure to “like” Brenckle’s budding Facebook page for fresh updates on what the greenhouse is growing.  3814 Mt. Troy Road, brenckle.com.

Who doesn’t love receiving an elegant card? Nota Bene fine-paper boutique in Aspinwall stocks an array of beautiful stationery, paper products and gifts, as well as albums full of customizable invitations to life’s big events. 9 Brilliant Ave., notabenepaper.com.
 

Do

Rent a pontoon boat from Boat Pittsburgh in Sharpsburg with up to seven of your closest mates for half a day — or a full day if you want more time to explore the three rivers. Test out your skills as a captain, or simply relax on the water without the hassle of boat maintenance or dockage fees.  James Sharp Landing, boat-pgh.com.
 

Enjoy a concert at Mr. Smalls in Millvale, where you can see bands play in a converted, desanctified Catholic church. The popular venue recently opened a second event space, The Funhouse @ Mr. Smalls.  400 Lincoln Ave., mrsmalls.com.

Take advantage of the outdoor recreation facilities at Kiwanis Park in Shaler Township, which has three tennis courts, two basketball courts, two baseball fields, two playgrounds and a pool.  Kiwanis Road, shaler.org/355/kiwanis-park.
 

Food Critic's Pick

If you’re looking for a light bite in a part of the region that generally tilts toward heavier food, head to Randita’s Organic Vegan Cafe in Aspinwall. You’ll find a solid selection of lunchtime choices such as African peanut stew and an outstanding mixed-greens salad (go for the lime vinaigrette). The menu expands on Friday and Saturday evenings for weekend dinner specials. (207 Commercial Ave., randitas.com) — Hal B. Klein
 

Signature Event

For the last 10 years, Millvale has been celebrating breweries with its annual Brew Fest. Held at Millvale Riverfront Park in August, the fundraising event for the Millvale Community Development Corporation features more than 175 craft, micro, nano and specialty brews, picnic-style barbecue and vegetarian and vegan offerings. Spring for the VIBD (Very Important Beer Drinker) tickets, which include a T-shirt, special beer tastings, a private tent and special beer-food pairings.
(millvalepa.com) — 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

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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.

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

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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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