The famous IC Light sign on Mount Washington overlooking downtown Pittsburgh.

#16 Mount Washington

Pittsburgh’s Best Neighborhoods

Location Map Mount Washington Pittsburgh
The Mount Washington neighborhood overlooks downtown Pittsburgh.

Mount Washington Neighborhood Description

Mount Washington is the big hill that overlooks downtown Pittsburgh. It’s where all the film crews establish their shots during major sporting events and the view consistently brings national media exposure to Pittsburgh. It’s touristy along the street that rides the top of the ridge, Grandview Street, and real estate is at a premium (naturally), but once one departs Grandview to venture deeper into the neighborhood, you discover that Mount Washington drips with Pittsburgh’s historic development patterns – small parcels, homes built just about to the property lines, high density, narrow streets, narrow alleys, steep hills, and a bar or a church on every corner.

Neighborhood Ranking Criteria

A Front Door

For vehicular travelers, the front door to Mount Washington is traveling up a steep hill to get to the top. But the true front door is the Duquesne Incline, which also serves as one of Pittsburgh’s premier tourist attractions.

An Identifiable Center

The center of the Mount Washington neighborhood is Grandview Street, which is walkable with shops, restaurants, offices and condos, but it’s not quite as dense as a traditional Main Street like many other neighborhood centers around Pittsburgh.

Boundaries

The north boundary of Mount Washington is the 365-feet cliff edge down to the Ohio and Monongahela rivers. The steep terrain does not get much easier in the other directions, either, as the entirety of the neighborhood was built on a hillside.

Density

A typical residential street in Mount Washington, Pittsburgh
A typical residential street in Mount Washington, Pittsburgh.

Mount Washington may well be the nearest neighborhood to downtown that primarily specializes in single family mostly detached homes. Nevertheless, said homes are tightly packed into the neighborhood and function much like townhomes. Good news is you have a space for your dog if you need it.

Detached Sidewalks and Street Trees

Mount Washington’s streets are narrow, and most parking spaces for homeowners are on the street. What’s sacrificed as a result is space for street trees and detached sidewalks. Therefore, there’s just not enough room for a quality street tree canopy in Mount Washington. What trees exist are random and courtesy of homeowners.

Diverse Architecture and Buildings That Address the Street

Mount Washington, Pittsburgh
These balconies do a great job of addressing the street.

Mount Washington is predominantly residential with tightly knit mostly single-family homes with small front yards and large porches overlooking the streets. Most of the residential stock was built during the same era, so architectural themes emerge as you’re traversing the neighborhood. Commercial architecture ranges from historic to fairly modern. Because the view from atop Mount Washington is Pittsburgh’s marquee vantage point, the real estate market has taken an interest in it.

Mixed Land Uses

Mount Washington, Pittsburgh.
The remnants of single family housing holding on to million dollar views atop Mt. Washington. Also, hiding behind all the windows atop that tall building is a great seafood place — Monterrey Bat Fish Grotto.

Mount Washington scores well in this category. Even in the heart of the residential areas, you’ll find a bar, coffee shop, or restaurant that’s easy to walk to.

Street Energy

The steep cliff of Mount Washington, Pittsburgh.
The tourists take in the steep Mount Washington cliff.

All of the street energy in Mount Washington is focused on touristy Grandview Street.

Streets That Generally Connect

Despite being built atop one of Pittsburgh’s steepest hills, designers back in the day insisted on maintaining a grid street pattern and limiting dead-ends. As a result, there are some steep slopes and narrow streets in Mount Washington. You’re best-off waiting for the snow to melt before venturing up or down the hill.

Transit Access

Duquesne Incline, Pittsburgh, Mt. Washington
One of Pittsburgh’s classic shots, the Incline still provides functional transit for Mount Washington.

Mount Washington has the most unique transit access in nation courtesy of the two inclines that serve it.

Walkability

Although primarily residential, one could live in Mount Washington without having to own a vehicle. Your calves will get toned courtesy of the steep hills, but there’s a grocery store that serves the neighborhood and a wide array of commercial establishments to meet your daily needs.

Opportunities for Improvement

Mount Washington’s public infrastructure is tired in places. It’s an old neighborhood, we know, but investing in sidewalk repairs and intersection improvements (including beautification) will go a long way for a neighborhood that already does everything well. Do the improvements for the residents but it should be noted the improved curb appeal will help leave tourists with a good feeling and give them more opportunities to post positive shots on their social media outlets. In the ever competitive game for resources from Pittsburgh City Hall, Mt. Washington deserves more attention.