Downtown Castle Shannon Pittsburgh

#28 Castle Shannon Neighborhood

Pittsburgh’s Best Neighborhoods

Castle Shannon Pittsburgh Map
Castle Shannon is a quick light rail ride away from downtown Pittsburgh.

Castle Shannon Neighborhood Description

Castle Shannon’s potential to transition into one of the most coveted inner-ring suburban boroughs in the Pittsburgh metro is off the charts. Located in the metro’s South Hills, Castle Shannon is a significant stop on the region’s light rail line, which presents an opportunity to adopt a transit-oriented development model that leverages its regional transit access advantage into investments that grow the neighborhood’s center into something truly unique. The good news is numerous successful transit-oriented development models exist throughout the nation and the largest investment to build out the model – light rail – has already been accomplished. Action steps now include adopting and authorizing borough zoning code language that enables high-density, mixed-use developments downtown and near the light rail station coupled with establishing tools to incentivize investments that align with the community’s vision. As it sits, Castle Shannon is the small town alternative to Mt. Lebanon and has a firmly established sense of place, a borough center that drips with potential, and a pathway for growth shared with only a select few metro competitors.  

Neighborhood Ranking Criteria

A Front Door

Castle Shannon Pittsburgh Gateway Sign
The front door into Castle Shannon is working.

Castle Shannon’s front door is more than serviceable and better than most throughout the Pittsburgh metro.

An Identifiable Center

Castle Shannon Blvd Pittsburgh
Castle Shannon Boulevard is the borough’s de facto Main Street.

Castle Shannon’s neighborhood center is Castle Shannon Blvd., which has quick and easy access to the light rail station. In recent years, leaders have been making investments to improve the streetscape environment.


By way of boundaries, Castle Shannon suffers from the same ambiguity of all its neighbors in Pittsburgh’s South Hills – streets blend into other streets without clear distinction a traveler is in a different jurisdiction.


Castle Shannon Pittsburgh Brick Streets
Brick sidewalks and streets define downtown Castle Shannon.

Downtown Castle Shannon has a degree of density and maintains a Main Street feel. Outside of downtown, the neighborhood’s residential stock is predominantly single-family homes that are tightly knit on long narrow parcels. Homes are built into the hills and hollows of Castle Shannon with all roads leading to downtown, as it should be.   

Detached Sidewalks and Street Trees

Downtown’s sidewalks are brick-lade and wide, creating a nice sense of place. A few fresh trees have been planted but, for the most part, trees in Castle Shannon are not uniform and courtesy of the natural canopy or a result of independent property owners.

Diverse Architecture and Buildings That Address the Street

Castle Shannon Pittsburgh Residential
Most of Castle Shannon was built in an era when homes were constructed right up to the sidewalk.

Castle Shannon was built in an era whereby the expectation was still a street facing built environment. Those bones are still in good shape. Many homes have large front porches with eyes on the street and downtown structures are built right up to the sidewalk.

Mixed Land Uses

The highest priority for Castle Shannon leadership is to adopt a zoning code that reflects high density, transit-oriented development standards, particularly within the borough core and near light rail stops. Mixing residential and commercial land uses is fundamentally critical to provide for quality growth that the market will respond to. As we sit, the apparent absence of mixed land uses is a liability for Castle Shannon.

Street Energy

Castle Shannon Pittsburgh Public Space
Street energy in downtown Castle Shannon is is alive but could use some steroids.

On warm, summer afternoons there are indeed people milling about in Castle Shannon. Downtown is inviting and feels on the cusp of a transition into increased activity if the market can find the right retail mix – something leadership can plan and incentivize.  

Streets That Generally Connect

Despite the hills, neighborhood connectivity is not an obstacle for Castle Shannon — most streets connect and will lead you to other streets.

Transit Access

Castle Shannon Pittsburgh Transit Oriented Development
Castle Shannon is ripe to transition into a transit oriented development zoning model.

Transit access? Off the charts. The borough’s greatest competitive advantage. Leverage it.  


Castle Shannon Pittsburgh Willow Station
There’s a few great neighborhood pubs in downtown Castle Shannon.

Castle Shannon truly does live like a quaint small town. It’s small enough to overcome the absence of mixed land uses and downtown is easily accessible from all of the borough’s residential areas. The true magic, however, is all your needs are a simple light rail ride away.

Opportunities for Improvement

Castle Shannon Pittsburgh South Hills
Homes are on all hillsides in Castle Shannon. Also, perhaps it’s time to consider burying the overhead power lines.

Castle Shannon can skyrocket up the list of Pittsburgh’s Best Neighborhoods by adopting a transit-oriented development model, which is the simple part. The more challenging part is enticing the market to take notice and partnering with private investors to build a community of choice. As it sits, the borough is a perfectly quaint and livable community with an established sense of place and character. If the goal is to be the best neighborhood in the metro (and I’d like to think it is) Castle Shannon has the potential and a clear pathway to become one of metro Pittsburgh’s crown jewels.  

*Map boundaries are an approximate and not identical to Castle Shannon municipal boundaries.