Pittsburgh Spring Hill Neighborhood Featured Image

#21 Spring Hill Neighborhood

Pittsburgh’s Best Neighborhoods

Pittsburgh Spring Hill Neighborhood Location Map
Spring Hill overlooks downtown and the Strip District.

Spring Hill Neighborhood Description

Spring Hill neighborhood towers above downtown and provides sweeping views of Pittsburgh. Mount Washington gets all the credit for being Pittsburgh’s Monday Night Football camera angle, but Spring Hill quietly provides the refined palate with a savory, less congested alternative. It’s a steep climb with switchbacks to get to the top of Spring Hill and, in typical Pittsburgh fashion, there are tightly knit hillside homes along the way. There are only a few streets that will take you up and down the hill by vehicle but add the public stairways and neighborhood accessibility becomes less of a constraint. Of its neighboring hilltop peers that also provide sweeping views of downtown – Troy Hill and Fineview – Spring Hill fits right in the middle, both literally and in terms of neighborhood quality. It’s far more put together than Fineview from a sense of place standpoint, but Spring Hill can’t compete with Troy Hill’s neighborhood center. Thus, if you don’t mind driving everywhere when you need something, Spring Hill is a great neighborhood. As one traverses to the northern ends of Spring Hill, the development patterns change from larger, ornate homes with views, to tightly knit townhomes, to sprawling apartment complexes and a section of town that appears more forgotten than other sections. Regardless, Spring Hill is a well formed, mature neighborhood that has numerous assets many will appreciate.

Neighborhood Ranking Criteria

A Front Door

There are no front doors into Spring Hill.

An Identifiable Center

Pittsburgh Spring Hill Neighborhood Center
Spring Hill’s neighborhood center has potential.

Spring Hill’s neighborhood center is the intersection of Walz St. and Rhine St., which is one of Pittsburgh’s more unique intersections because it’s on a hill side and the historic architecture reflects it.

Boundaries

Pittsburgh Spring Hill Neighborhood Public Stairs
I’m trying to figure out what the function of the yellow thing is on these stairs. I could look it up, but it’s more fun to speculate.

Hilltop boundaries make for easily identifiable neighborhood boundaries. Walking up steep stairs blows the wind out of you.

Density

Pittsburgh Spring Hill Neighborhood Density
I suspect the views from those balconies are delightful.

Spring Hill is fairly dense around its neighborhood center, which is how the urban planning gods intended it. From there, density goes down in both north/south directions.

Detached Sidewalks and Street Trees

Pittsburgh Spring Hill Neighborhood Townhomes
Spring Hill has a tough time with sidewalks, but an easy time with townhomes.

Spring Hill is a forested neighborhood, but few streets are lined with trees, much less detached sidewalk.

Diverse Architecture and Buildings That Address the Street

Pittsburgh Spring Hill Neighborhood Large Homes
Larger homes have the most sweeping views on Spring Hill.

Mostly single family, detached homes line the streets with views of downtown, behind them it transitions into townhomes, and behind them, as one continues to venture northerly, sprawling apartment complexes take shape.

Mixed Land Uses

Spring Hill is not much for mixed land uses. I didn’t even see a corner pub or a social hall.

Street Energy

The only street energy in the neighborhood is those walking their dogs.

Streets That Generally Connect

Pittsburgh Spring Hill Neighborhood Early Cut Off Apartments
This apartment complex is fenced in like a prison. Why didn’t designers simply connect the cul de sac to the street? Why is there a fence along the public sidewalk keeping people out? Why is there a fence at all? Why is the sidewalk on the other side of the fence? The choices people have made to create this image warrant criticism, and lets add the bland suburban design of the apartments to the list.

The streets of Spring Hill generally connect with the exception of a few cul de sacs on the northern end of the neighborhood.

Transit Access

Just regular old buses serve Spring Hill.

Walkability

Pittsburgh Spring Hill Neighborhood Housing
A typical street in Spring Hill.

One can walk around Spring Hill, there’s just nowhere to walk to. Walking down the hill, either via public stairs or one of the roads, means you have to walk back up.

Opportunities for Improvement

Spring Hill’s neighborhood center has potential. Pointing the real estate market in its direction and enticing small businesses to it is a winning strategy. As mentioned above, Troy Hill is comparable but superior to Spring Hill because of its healthy neighborhood center. Spring Hill needs a neighborhood center like Troy Hill’s. Additionally, the northerly side of Spring Hill feels different than the rest of the neighborhood because the development model shifted from denser townhomes to sprawling apartment complexes and there are large swaths of undeveloped land that could also use investments and redevelopment from the real estate market. As clusters of parcels redevelop, incorporating an urban design philosophy that integrates the orphaned apartments complexes into the rest of Spring Hill is a winning strategy.