#4 Allegheny West
Pittsburgh’s Best Neighborhoods
Allegheny West Neighborhood Description
Allegheny West is one of Pittsburgh’s best neighborhoods. Located just off the raucous North Shore and downtown, Allegheny West has excellent access to urban energy yet is tranquil by comparison to its neighbors. The neighborhood lives like a small town but it’s in the heart of the metro. Allegheny West’s main street, Western Avenue, is two linear blocks of flawless. Two- and three-story historic buildings line the street. It’s walkable, and it has numerous small businesses and pubs and diners and coffee shops. Surrounding Western Ave are rows of townhomes and a few historic old warehouses — several of them are presently being renovated into mixed use structures. Finally, we can’t forget that Allegheny Community College anchors the southern edge of the neighborhood, which adds a walkable and historic campus energy to the whole of Allegheny West.
A Front Door
For whatever reason, few Pittsburgh neighborhoods have proper gateway and placemaking signage. Allegheny West is no exception, I’m afraid.
An Identifiable Center
Western Avenue is one of Pittsburgh’s premier neighborhood centers. The word quaint doesn’t do Western Avenue justice. Locals know the area as the place where the Rooney’s, the ownership family of the Steelers, resided for a stretch of time. Given Allegheny West is located just a couple blocks from Steelers’ stadium, one must respect the Rooney’s for placing a premium on walking to work. Otherwise, visitors to the metro will likely never step foot on Western Avenue or into Allegheny West, but the locals sure know about it, and this dynamic creates a perfect balance between an energetic identifiable center but stops short of being one of the metro’s primary party streets.
Elevated Hwy 65 alongside the light rail tracks separate Allegheny West from the North Shore. The barrier is substantial, with only a few connecting streets that connect the neighborhoods. Otherwise, Manchester is across the soft border of Allegheny Ave to the west, the wonderful rolling greens of Allegheny Commons park is to the east, and below grade railroad tracks limit access to the north.
In classic Pittsburgh fashion, rows of townhomes fill Allegheny West. For what single family, detached homes exist, they are large and ornate, yet still tightly packed into the neighborhood.
Detached Sidewalks and Street Trees
The sidewalks aren’t detached but there are plenty of street trees throughout Allegheny West.
Diverse Architecture and Buildings That Address the Street
Between Allegheny Community College, the rows of townhomes, and dense Western Avenue, there is much architecture to experience within the neighborhood and the vast majority of it is street facing.
Mixed Land Uses
There appear to be opportunities to provide more apartments and condos above commercial spaces throughout Allegheny West. The stock of mixed income options is low, which is partially the result of high demand, but also partially a result of second and third stories going underutilized within the neighborhood.
There’s daily street energy in Allegheny West. The neighborhood attracts people from other neighborhoods and also serves it’s surrounding residents with a variety of commercial options.
Streets That Generally Connect
Because it’s located on the flat river bottoms, Allegheny West was built on a proper grid with excellent street connectivity.
There’s a light rail stop adjacent to Steelers stadium, which is only a couple blocks away from Allegheny West. Otherwise, just regular old buses serve the neighborhood.
Allegheny West is one of Pittsburgh’s most walkable neighborhoods. A full-blown grocery store is located just across the park and Western Avenue is enough to provide for most household needs. Indeed, the word walkable within the context of Pittsburgh Planner is synonymous with the word livable, and Allegheny West is one of Pittsburgh’s most livable neighborhoods.
Opportunities for Improvement
Allegheny Avenue as it approaches the Hwy 65 underpass into the North Shore is atrocious. The land uses are suburbanized, the roads are wide, the sidewalks are narrow, the traffic is congested, and it basically acts as an invisible wall that blocks increased activity between the North Shore and Allegheny West. There is ample opportunity to increase gameday business in Allegheny West by improving the walkability between Western Avenue and Steelers stadium via Allegheny Avenue. For that matter, there is ample opportunity to increase daily business connections between Allegheny West and the North Shore by improving the walkability between Western Avenue and Steelers stadium. The fast-food joints and c-stores might be a necessary land use evil, but they do not preclude improving Allegheny Ave into a more inviting and safer walkable environment. Wider sidewalks, street trees, curb bump-outs at intersections, color – all basic stuff from an urban planner’s perspective and they’re the ingredients that will build connection and activity between the two neighborhoods.