Let’s Celebrate Our Neighborhoods on the Rise

Bayne Park Ship


On one of my many trips to see my parents in Central Florida, we made a visit to Celebration, the planned community Disney World developed in the mid-1990s that aimed to create the utopia of residential living.

Unlike the spread-out properties of a typical suburb, Celebration designers grouped houses with front porches close together and close to the streets. To encourage interaction between neighbors, houses were not separated by driveways; garages were placed behind homes along alleys that paralleled the streets. Sidewalks stretched everywhere. Parks, a lake encircled with a path and a business district with essential stores and restaurants were all within walking distance.

It wasn’t until I returned to Pittsburgh that I realized that parts of my East End neighborhood are laid out similarly to Celebration but had developed organically early in the 20th century. The homes are footsteps from a 600-acre park and small business district. And there is a steady stream of dog walkers, pedestrians and joggers on the sidewalks, keeping street life lively.

In fact, many of the city’s older neighborhoods and river towns have similar qualities to Celebration.

In this issue, we look at some local neighborhoods and communities on the rise — Ambridge, Mount Oliver/Allentown, Bellevue, North Point Breeze and Etna — and why they’re attracting new families and business investment.

Since I moved to Pittsburgh 35 years ago, I’ve seen one neighborhood after another rebound and become destination hubs. Sure, there are still many challenges facing the city, but it’s exciting to see how some of the once-overlooked areas are coming back. Virginiathumb

We also want to acknowledge that Pittsburgh’s suburbs and exurbs continue to be very popular places to live. Slippery Rock in northern Butler County, for example, had the highest population growth of any town in Western Pennsylvania between 2020 and 2022. It added 1,562 residents to its population of 6,719, a rise of almost 19% (the largest percentage in the state), according to the Pennsylvania State Data Center and U.S. Census figures.

There certainly is a lot to celebrate about our neighborhoods and communities right here in the Pittsburgh area.

Virginia Linn can be reached at vlinn@pittsburghmagazine.com.

Categories: Editor