#11 Manchester Neighborhood
Pittsburgh’s Best Neighborhoods
Manchester Neighborhood Description
From an urban design perspective, Pittsburgh’s Manchester neighborhood should be taught in a classroom because it illustrates significant variations of theming often times seen on the very same block face. Perhaps Pittsburgh’s most ornamentally beautiful street (Liverpool) is within Manchester (cover image above and a few more below). Conversely, there are also a handful of objectively less beautiful streets within Manchester. Eras of development are on full display in Manchester. The neighborhood has a split personality between densely built townhomes and suburban single family uses. Thankfully, townhomes are the dominant trait despite the development tension of trying to transition into a more suburban product. Manchester is also one of Pittsburgh’s more underrated neighborhoods as it quietly flies beneath the radar of other neighborhoods that don’t suffer from the blight of suburban development themes. Regardless of whether you live on Liverpool Street or in a split-level rancher, if you find yourself residing in Manchester, rest assured there are about 200 lesser neighborhoods in the metro that blush in the face of Manchester’s urban assets.
A Front Door
Manchester has no front doors, no proper gateways. Neighborhood and city leaders would do well to create some proper gateways to better define its sense of place apart from Allegheny West.
An Identifiable Center
Commercial activities in Manchester are limited to its boundary of Allegheny Avenue and disconnected land uses that abut the North Shore. Therefore, there is no true commercial center within Manchester. That said, Manchester Field, which is also adjacent to Pittsburgh-Manchester Elementary School, together serve as the civic center of the neighborhood.
Boundaries around Manchester are well defined. Highway 65 provides hard walls to the south and west (image above), below grade railroad tracks to the north, and Allegheny Avenue, the softest boundary, to the east.
Manchester is a transitional neighborhood from high density townhomes to lower density single family homes. Therefore, there are pockets of high density and pockets of relatively low density. Although the more dominant font is townhomes, each street within Manchester has its own unique vibe.
Detached Sidewalks and Street Trees
Manchester scores well in the street tree category. Although there are many gaps in the canopy, it’s fair to say it’s a tree-lined neighborhood. Additionally, the entirety of the neighborhood provides for sidewalks.
Diverse Architecture and Buildings That Address the Street
Manchester certainly has diverse architecture, that’s for sure. But for the most part, the architecture is brick-laid, ornate, and historic.
Mixed Land Uses
Mixed land uses can be found along the edges of the neighborhood. For the most part, the uses are anathema to the neighborhood – storage units, a couple fast food joints, a 7-11, etc. On the upside, along Allegheny Avenue one can find numerous larger historic structures being rehabbed into mixed uses, including residential.
There’s not much street energy in Manchester other than casual strollers. Don’t be fooled, however, because the neighborhood is quite walkable to neighboring commercial centers.
Streets That Generally Connect
Manchester’s streets connect well with the exception of the northern railroad boundary that forces many of them to stub off.
Just regular old buses serve Manchester.
One could live in Manchester without owning a vehicle courtesy of access to Allegheny East, Allegheny Central and Allegheny West, which all provide everyday shopping and social needs.
Opportunities for Improvement
Continued rehab and conversions of historic structures within Manchester is a good strategy toward improving neighborhood health. Placemaking with gateway signage and unique streetscaping along more congested corridors is also a good idea. Short of demolishing all the old and less sightly split-level ranchers that were built and presently subtract from the neighborhood’s cool vibe, perhaps a more creative thinker can dream up a way to make them a kitschy asset and not a liability. Nothing a robust artist community couldn’t solve.