Pittsburgh Spring Garden Valley Neighborhood Decreasing Density

#24 Spring Garden Valley

Pittsburgh’s Best Neighborhoods

Pittsburgh Spring Garden Valley Neighborhood Location Map
Spring Garden Valley follows the hollow between Spring Hill and Troy Hill.

Spring Garden Valley Neighborhood Description

Spring Garden Valley isn’t so much a neighborhood as it is a road that follows the hollow between Troy Hill neighborhood and Spring Hill neighborhood. With the exception of a few side streets that lead you back to the main road, neighborhood design is predicated along Spring Garden Avenue. Nearest to urbanized Pittsburgh, Spring Garden Ave starts from the edge of Deutschtown and is fairly urbanized for the first half mile or so but then slowly begins to transition into less dense homes along the road until finally, toward the boundary of Pittsburgh proper and Reserve Township, the neighborhood dynamic feels quite rural with large open lawns and lots of space between homes. Spring Garden Valley is definitely its own thing, but it also feels like one of those places that is its own thing because it simply doesn’t fit into anything else. It feels like a left-over geography, a simple road that runs along a valley floor between hills that, coincidently, has a good number of homes along it so planners at city hall were left with no other option than to designate it as its own neighborhood. Nevertheless, the below neighborhood ranking criteria still apply and there are some excellent neighborhood streets, particularly near the boundary with Deutschtown.  

Neighborhood Ranking Criteria

A Front Door

Pittsburgh Spring Garden Valley Gateway
The front door into Spring Garden Valley is good enough.

I actually didn’t know Spring Garden Valley was its own neighborhood until I saw this sign, which is a fine demonstration of the placemaking influence of front doors.

An Identifiable Center

Pittsburgh Spring Garden Valley Neighborhood Center
The Spring Garden Valley neighborhood center is a strip mall.

Spring Garden Valley’s neighborhood center is a strip mall anchored by a Dollar General and an oversized parking lot.

Boundaries

Pittsburgh Spring Garden Valley Neighborhood Boundaries
One must climb stairs to mosey into the Troy Hill neighborhood.

Neighborhood boundaries are defined by the steep hills on both sides of Spring Garden Avenue.

Density

Pittsburgh Spring Garden Valley Neighborhood Tallest Building
Spring Garden Valley is decidedly more dense on the streets nearest to Deutschtown.
Pittsburgh Spring Garden Valley Neighborhood Small Homes
Though the homes get smaller as one travels away from Deutschtown, they are still built right up to the sidewalk.

Neighborhood density increases the nearer one is to the Deutschtown neighborhood and significantly decreases down to rural as one traverses roughly two miles up Spring Garden Ave.

Detached Sidewalks and Street Trees

Spring Garden Avenue does manage to have at least one sidewalk all the way up to Reserve Township, but there are no trees courtesy of a tight right of way and utility poles claiming the space where trees would go. That said, being at the bottom of a hollow means you’re surrounded on all sides by the dense deciduousness of western PA.

Diverse Architecture and Buildings That Address the Street

Pittsburgh Spring Garden Valley Neighborhood Front Porches
There are no street trees, but plenty of street utility poles in Spring Garden Valley.

Townhomes are the dominate architectural style and they all do a great job of addressing the streets in front of them.

Mixed Land Uses

Pittsburgh Spring Garden Valley Neighborhood Bar
A proper corner pub in Spring Garden Valley.

Spring Garden Valley does well in this category. Everyday retail needs, a pub, an old school, a ballfield, and even some light manufacturing are found throughout the neighborhood.

Street Energy

There is no street energy in Spring Garden Valley.

Streets That Generally Connect

Pittsburgh Spring Garden Valley Neighborhood More Side Streets
There’s a few narrow side streets without sidewalks off Spring Garden Ave.
Pittsburgh Spring Garden Valley Neighborhood Side Street
For what room there is on each hillside, the development pattern is tightly packed townhomes.

Spring Garden Avenue is the main road through the neighborhood. For what streets are sideroads, they all loop back into the main road. There are also a few public stair cases into the two souring neighborhoods.

Transit Access

Pittsburgh Spring Garden Valley Park n Ride
You can park n’ ride in Spring Garden Valley, which is more than we can say about many neighborhoods throughout metro Pittsburgh.

I was surprised to stumble upon a transit Park and Ride, which is near the neighborhood center.  

Walkability

Pittsburgh Spring Garden Valley Neighborhood Density
Spring Garden Valley is generally walkable.

Spring Garden Valley is walkable depending on where you live within it. If you’re near the neighborhood center, no problem. If you’re near Deutschtown, no problem. Otherwise, you’ll need a vehicle to live in the neighborhood.

Opportunities for Improvement

How does one improve a neighborhood that’s little more than rows of homes along a meandering valley floor? Improving gateways on both sides of Spring Valley Avenue is a great start. In the longer term, working to increase the width (right of way) of Spring Valley Avenue is a recipe for improvement. Not to add more driving lanes, mind you, but to build wider sidewalks, plant street trees, and add bike lanes. Spring Garden Valley, despite feeling like a leftover that doesn’t quite fit, has the asset of being a discrete, quiet pocket neighborhood within Pittsburgh proper. The fact that its primary characteristic is Spring Garden Avenue means improvements along Spring Garden Ave are improvements for the entire neighborhood.