#1 Mexican War Streets
Pittsburgh’s Best Neighborhoods
Mexican War Streets Neighborhood Description
Pittsburgh’s Mexican War Streets is one of the city’s premier neighborhoods. From an urban design perspective, it’s nearly flawless. What Beacon Hill is to Boston and Georgetown is to DC, the Mexican War Streets is to Pittsburgh. Named after places and names from the Mexican-American War, rows of multi-story ornate townhouses line every street. Located just north of downtown, the neighborhood is the pinnacle of townhome living in urban Pittsburgh. Walkability comes easy with the Mexican War Streets because the neighborhood executes nearly every ingredient that help to create great neighborhoods to perfection.
A Front Door
There’s not much of a front door to the Mexican War Streets but street signs change when one enters the neighborhood noting you’re now in a place that’s worthy of unique street signs.
An Identifiable Center
There are two centers within Pittsburgh’s Mexican War Streets: the first being the intersection (Jacksonia and Buena Vista) with a public square, Commonplace Coffee, and The Mattress Factory – a contemporary art museum with regularly rotating exhibits and an active pool of artists vying for space. The second is a neighborhood pub called Monterey Pub – a proper Irish joint whereby day drinkers are welcome. Both centers contribute significantly to the lore of the neighborhood. There is also a pleasant commercial strip on the edge of Mexican War Streets along Federal Street, which serves as the neighborhood’s truly diversified and walkable center, despite it being more of a boundary than a center.
The Mexican War Streets’ boundaries are succinct enough to distinguish between it and surrounding neighborhoods. With a park on one side and an enormous hospital complex on the other, either you’re in the throes of narrow, treelined streets with brick sidewalks, or you’re outside the neighborhood. You know you’re in the Mexican War Streets when you’re in it.
Rows and rows of townhomes on long narrow lots interspersed with a random square or double-lot property create the Mexican War Streets. The grid street system makes for easy walking.
Detached Sidewalks and Street Trees
The sidewalks are not detached but they are predominantly brick with lots of planted trees and planters and diverse stoops and porches to mix-up and diversify the streetscape. Being developed in 1847, the Mexican War Streets have almost two centuries of history behind them. Lots of trees have come and gone. Nevertheless, a good number of streets maintain a uniform street tree canopy.
Diverse Architecture and Buildings That Address the Street
Diverse architecture is off the charts in the Mexican War Streets. There’s is a reason why the neighborhood is on the National Register of Historic Places, and that reason is diverse architecture. Each townhome has a different architectural style but they all have eyes on the street. It’s quite the master class in how to build a safe neighborhood.
Mixed Land Uses
Being predominantly residential, it’s the mixed-use category where the Mexican War Streets perform less well. Nevertheless, you have a neighborhood pub, a couple of museums, a coffee shop, and pop-up entrepreneurs on Saturdays over the warmer months within the neighborhood. Just outside the neighborhood, there are numerous restaurants and shops and bakeries and general stores to service all of your needs.
Street energy within the Mexican War Streets neighborhood is that of the locals on their front stoops or curious outsiders that are walking the streets.
Streets That Generally Connect
The neighborhood is on a tight grid street system. All streets connect.
You’re transit access in the Mexican War Streets is limited to bus stops that surround the neighborhood.
The Mexican War Streets is among Pittsburgh’s most walkable neighborhoods. Everyday needs can be satisfied within an easy walk from the neighborhood.
Opportunities for Improvement
How does one improve something flawless? Likely the most significant need for improvement is around public perception of surrounding neighborhoods to Mexican War Streets, generally known as the North Side. There’s a perception of high crime. Locals consider Mexican War Streets as bit of an island, whereby once there was a homeless shelter and a porn theatre challenging the numerous positive characteristics of the neighborhood, both have since closed. As for surrounding neighborhoods — Allegheny West, Manchester, Fineview, Deutschtown, and Allegheny Central — they’re perfectly safe and there are even rising grumblings of gentrification. (Although, I don’t think that’s the right word to use. ‘Rediscovery’ is a better word). Indeed, taken together with the Mexican War Streets, the neighborhoods that create the North Side represent a significant portion of the top 20 Pittsburgh neighborhoods. Thus, what the Mexican War Streets and the rest of the North Side needs is a public relations campaign to reinforce the reality that all North Side neighborhoods create a dynamic unrivalled by the rest of the metro, and it’s led by the Mexican War Streets.