Pittsburgh Millvale Neighborhood Information

#22 Millvale

Pittsburgh’s Best Neighborhoods

Pittsburgh Millvale Neighborhood Map
Millvale has easy access to everything.

Millvale Neighborhood Description

Millvale is an old borough on Pittsburgh’s northeasterly boundary that is poised for rediscovery. Millvale’s land area is small, but the neighborhood is tightly packed. Of all the boroughs in the metro, it’s Millvale that has the best city access to most everything because it’s an easy 2.5 miles to downtown Pittsburgh and it’s located right across the bridge from Lawrenceville. The borough itself is presently being overcome by a swarm of artists, who likely have the best nose for proper urbanity outside of urban planners. On the well-worn pathway of revitalization, artists are the vanguard. There’s even a bar that has regular poetry readings. Millvale drips urban character because pretty much the entire city is historic and preserved – it’s still a raw, authentic version of Pittsburgh in its truest form. Now that the artists have arrived, you can feel the underlying creative energy percolating around you. Inspiration comes in many forms, and Millvale is a textbook example of an urban environment that draws in creatives due to its authenticity and urban character.

Neighborhood Ranking Criteria

A Front Door

Millvale needs a proper gateway, best placed in a location that captures traffic from Lawrenceville and from Highway 28. Nothing a couple local artists can’t solve.

An Identifiable Center

Pittsburgh Millvale Neighborhood North Ave
The facades of North Ave in Millvale appear to be well occupied. It also looks like there is room for residential uses up top.

Millvale has two Main Streets – Grant Ave and North Ave. They connect with each other and it’s an easy stroll between them. The retail environment appears healthy with few vacancies and a dynamic mix of shops, bars, restaurants, and markets. Best of all, pretty much the entire community has walkable access to the neighborhood centers.

Boundaries

Millvale is located on Girty’s Run creek bottom, which drains into the Allegheny River. The other three boundaries are steep hillsides.

Density

Pittsburgh Millvale Neighborhood Count the Awnings
Count all the awnings you see on this dense Millvale side street.
Pittsburgh Millvale Neighborhood Architecture
Most Millvale homes are townhouses fit for artists.

Millvale is a dense community that takes advantage of what relatively flat land is available for development and packs it in with a predominance of old townhomes.

Detached Sidewalks and Street Trees (and Awnings)

Pittsburgh Millvale Neighborhood That Yellow One Doesn't Have Awnings
That yellow one doesn’t have any awnings. Must not be from here.

There are new tree plantings along the main streets but the inner side streets could use a more intentional canopy.

Diverse Architecture and Buildings That Address the Street

There are lots of stoops along the sidewalks in Millvale.
There are lots of stoops along the sidewalks in Millvale.

A broad range of historic architecture defines Millvale. Townhomes are the dominant theme, however, with plenty of awnings to really drive home the Pittsburgh authenticity.

Mixed Land Uses

Pittsburgh Millvale Neighborhood Looking Back Down Grant St
There are a few single family homes mixed into Grant Ave alongside all the other cool stuff.

Homes are mixed into the Main Street dynamic along Grant Avenue. Otherwise, there appears to be ample opportunity to incorporate upper-floor residential units into much of the space along the main streets.

Street Energy

Pittsburgh Millvale Neighborhood North Ave Sidewalk
That’s one uniform sidewalk, but where is everybody?

Walking around on a warm February, Saturday morning didn’t see much street energy. Nevertheless, I suspect that summer evenings draw out the masses.

Streets That Generally Connect

Millvale is on a creek bottom and steep hills surround it.
Millvale is on a creek bottom and steep hills surround it. Most streets stub off at the base of a hill.

Millvale proper is built on a tight street grid but the steep hills quickly break up the symmetry as one ventures away from the urban center.

Transit Access

Millvale is more or less in the center of the metro and has easy bus access to everything.

Walkability

Pittsburgh Millvale Neighborhood Grant St
Millvale has some proper old school drinking holes to stagger home from.

Millvale is one of the most walkable neighborhoods in the metro. That said, when in you’re Millvale, it’s difficult to walk to one of your adjacent neighborhoods either due to the hills or due to a long bridge across the Allegheny River into Lawrenceville. Nevertheless, Millvale provides for all your daily needs, and you really don’t need to walk anywhere outside of the borough.

Opportunities for Improvement

Pittsburgh Millvale Neighborhood Drunk Poetry
A poetry bar in Millvale. One would have to be drunk to listen to poetry.

Millvale’s authentic Pittsburgh feel is one of its chief assets, but I hope their zoning code is updated to reflect 21st century best practices. I’ve made this point in a few different posts for a few different neighborhoods, and I’ll make it again for Millvale: define what you want the future to look like via your zoning code. You can define it now for yourself, or outsiders will define it for you in the future. Any zoning code that’s Euclidean centric is antiquated, the whole thing is rubbish, and deserves a proper waste bin. You’re one of the metro’s up and coming neighborhoods. The artists have already discovered you. You’re right across the river from hipster Lawrenceville. The water is receding from the shores and a wave of market activity is building energy. Preserve your authenticity. Define your future. Both can be had via a new zoning code.

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