Washington's Landing Neighborhood Pittsburgh

#18 Washington’s Landing Island

Pittsburgh’s Best Neighborhoods

Washington's Landing Island Neighborhood Map Pittsburgh
Washington’s Landing is a small island up the Allegheny River from downtown Pittsburgh.

Washington’s Landing Island Neighborhood Description

The Trail in Washington's Landing Neighborhood Pittsburgh
Trail’s aplenty on Washington’s Landing.

The sweet, sweet honey water of the Allegheny River calls on Washington’s Landing Island. Just up from the Ohio River, Washington’s Landing is the only island on Pittsburgh’s many miles of shoreline to have an authentic marina feel. Despite its inner-city location, courtesy of being surrounded by a moat on all sides, Washington’s Landing’s development dynamic has a suburban design. But not too suburban, mind you. Despite the fact there are only about four land uses on the entire island, the residential homes are townhouses that face the street, and the island’s walkability is at a premium with trails and detached sidewalks. Trouble is unless you own a boat there is really nowhere to walk to, aside from enjoying a pleasant stroll.

Neighborhood Ranking Criteria

A Front Door

A Front Door into Washington's Landing Neighborhood Pittsburgh
The front door onto Washington’s Landing is colorful and also points you in the right direction.

Technically, there are three different ways to access Washington’s Landing – vehicle, vessel, or on foot. Vehicular access includes only one bridge onto/off of the island, which I’m sure emergency management planners complain about. Of course, there is a marina to park your boat. But the true gem is the foot bridge that creates pedestrian access to Washington’s Landing from the continental mainland. Access points aside, there is a colorful marker acknowledging your vehicular entrance into Washington’s Landing as a distinct Pittsburgh neighborhood.  

An Identifiable Center

The most identifiable center for Washington’s Landing is Redfin Blues Restaurant, which is open seasonally during the warmer months – it has fabulous outdoor seating. Attached to Redfin is a very large metal building that I presume is a fine spot to winter one’s boat. Between the active marina and Redfin, both land uses represent the only two social commercial activities on the island.

Boundaries

Townhomes on the Water Washington's Landing Neighborhood Pittsburgh
Townhomes on the trail and overlooking the Allegheny River.

Washington’s Landing is an island in the Allegheny River. There’s hardly a more distinct boundary than water.

Density

Density on the island is centered around the townhomes that cluster on the western third of it. The townhomes were built around 2000 and do a fine job of creating a unique vibe on the island.

Detached Sidewalks and Street Trees

Washington's Landing Pittsburgh Detached Sidewalks
Although the detached, tree-lined sidewalks might only serve government employees taking a lunchtime stroll, it doesn’t mean they’re not critically important to the island’s sense of place.

Washington’s Landing has picture perfect detached sidewalks and street trees – presumably all were built and planted during the early 2000s when the island redeveloped.

Diverse Architecture and Buildings That Address the Street

Washington's Landing Neighborhood Pittsburgh Townhomes
Townhomes and tree-lined streets define Washington’s Landing.

Washington’s Landing Island predominantly consists of townhomes and several Pennsylvania Commonwealth offices of bureaucratic excellence. The townhomes do a fine job of addressing the street, despite their absence of architectural diversity. The government offices certainly play the part. Architecturally, they are fairly sterile and bland. Nevertheless, the institutional architecture consists of a red brick theme that isn’t bad for government work.

Mixed Land Uses

Washington's Landing Neighborhood Pittsburgh Government Buildings
The Pennsylvania Commonwealth buildings on the island could look worse.

There are only a handful of land uses on Washington’s Landing, and they don’t mix. Fortunately, the island is small enough that you don’t really notice. Townhomes, government, parks, marinas, and Redfin Blues, those are the land uses. Washington’s Landing lives like a suburban enclave without the strip malls and traffic. Day to day needs are met by the Strip District, Lawrenceville, and Deutschtown neighborhoods.   

Street Energy

Redfin Blues Washington's Landing Neighborhood Pittsburgh
It’s not really street energy, but it is patio and trail energy courtesy of Redfin Blues. I’ll take it.

The patio seating at Redfin blues and those walking the docs of the marina represent the sum total of street energy on the island.

Streets That Generally Connect

There is one main road on the island – Waterfront Drive – and a few short cul-de-sacs.

Transit Access

There is no transit access on Washington’s Landing. Strikes me as an opportunity for improvement.

Walkability

The Footbridge to Washington's Landing Island Pittsburgh
The best part about Washington’s Landing is the foot bridge that connects it to the mainland.

In addition to the wonderful detached sidewalks, there’s a great trail that nearly encircles the entire island that entices runners and walkers from across the metro. However, if you live on Washington’s Landing, your only walkable destination is Redfin Blues.

Opportunities for Improvement  

Washington’s Landing is tricky to critique from an urban planning perspective relevant to a list of metro Pittsburgh’s best neighborhoods. It’s a suburban enclave that would be difficult to live on without owning a vehicle because day to day needs are about a 20 minute walk away in all directions, yet Pittsburgh’s best neighborhoods surround the island. Not to mention, you’re living on an island, which is a plus-factor for most people. Between the townhomes and the governmental uses, the island is built out, and it was built to function like a suburb. For what it is Washington’s Landing performs well, but it’s far from perfect. If you prefer a suburban feel but easy access to urban amenities, Washington’s Landing is your neighborhood.