Diversity is Driving a Renaissance in North Point Breeze

Once home to the region’s elite, this tiny East End neighborhood is evolving into a hot destination for a diverse population, new businesses and tech.

North Point Breeze Street

Architect Jeff Wetzel couldn’t believe his luck. When looking to move from Butler into Pittsburgh’s East End 24 years ago, he found a seven-bedroom duplex with 14 original stained glass windows on a leafy street in North Point Breeze for $89,000. Sure, it was a fixer-upper, “but it just had all this gorgeous architecture,” he says.

It wasn’t until after he invited guests over and tried to order a pizza that he got an unpleasant surprise. The restaurant refused to deliver to North Point Breeze, claiming it was unsafe.

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David Bear got a similar reaction when he moved his family to North Point Breeze 40 years ago. His in-laws questioned the move. That’s despite the fact his home on Meade Street is located catty-corner to where H.J. Heinz’s 37-room Chateau-style mansion, Greenlawn, once stood.

This neighborhood was once a place of country estates for the wealthy. Roads divided by tree-lined medians and floral roundabouts emulate French boulevards. George Westinghouse’s estate, called Solitude, was on the edge of what is now Westinghouse Park. Housing is a mix of Mid-Century Modern, Victorian, Civil War row houses and apartments. But white flight and disinvestment in the 1950s led to the deterioration of the housing stock and rising crime.

The neighborhood now? “It’s completely changed,” says Wetzel, who has led the Point Breeze North Development Corporation for 10 years.

North Point Breeze Shiloh Farm Stand Farmers Market


Young families are purchasing and renovating the stately homes, including Penguins President Kevin Acklin and his wife. City Councilman Ricky Burgess grew up near the park and still lives in the neighborhood.

A master plan has been drafted to revitalize the 10-acre Westinghouse Park, which was designated as a nationally recognized arboretum in 2021. To bring attention to the park, business owner Paul Fireman of Fireman Creative in 2018 organized the popular (and silly) What’s the Point .5K, held each fall, which draws people of all ages and abilities.

North Point Breeze Rockwell


The eight-building, 800,000-square-foot Rockwell Park on the east edge of the neighborhood is attracting a mix of tech, manufacturing and trendy retail and restaurants. Development is underway at Lexington Technology Park, a mixed-use, mixed-income project. And North Point Breeze is home to popular, one-of-a-kind destinations: Construction Junction, East End Food Co-op, Pittsburgh Center for Creative Reuse and Free Ride Pittsburgh.

Wetzel says the diversity of the population, with different incomes, is the neighborhood’s strength. “We’re all living in the same community, best friends, neighbors, Black, white, straight, gay. There’s everything.”

That’s what attracted Vivienne Shaffer, another member of the development corporation, and her husband, who moved here in 2001. “The neighborhood is friendly; I know more of my neighbors than I have in any other place I have lived.”

She also says new residents are making contributions: “One newer neighbor’s efforts have resulted in the planting of dozens of street trees,” she says. “Shiloh Farm has brought green industry and a weekly farm stand to the neighborhood.”

North Point Breeze Co Op


While the corporation has worked to spur redevelopment of landmarks such as Engine House No. 16 on Penn Avenue (which Fireman purchased for his design and development agency) and vacant lots, it’s also trying to ensure the neighborhood stays affordable. “I think with rising prices, you’re seeing people slowly, perhaps getting bumped from what they’ve always known as home,” says Wetzel.

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Bear, initial organizer of the Westinghouse Park 2nd Century Coalition, is committed to revitalizing the park but also bringing some of its fascinating history to life. He’d love to see the 220-foot, 8-foot-tall underground tunnel reopened; still intact today, it was used by the entrepreneur to get from Solitude to his workshops across his estate in inclement weather and to elude industrial spies.

“So one of the key parts of the master development plan is to at least signify above ground where these things were to retain some of the history,” he says. “For the first time, we’re in a position where I think the city will actually allow archaeology to be conducted.”

Early 19th Century


Did You Know?
The neighborhood got its name from the Point Breeze hotel, which stood at the corner of Fifth and Penn Avenues in the early 1800s.

Categories: Neighborhoods