Wilkinsburg – Pittsburgh, PA

Wilkinsburg sits just east of Pittsburgh, starkly contrasting the big-city life with its small-town roots. The 2.3 square miles of the borough sit just 7 miles away from the city, and offer an alternative to the fast-paced style of Pittsburgh. Residents enjoy a lower cost of living, an up-and-coming arts community and a dedication to small-town life that encourages people to build a home in the newly energized borough. The population of just over 15,000 people represents a reduction of more than 12,000 residents over 70 years. After several tumultuous decades, residents support a resurgence of the downtown areas and population growth to align with the more recent investments in the community.

Schools in Wilkinsburg

School data provided by GreatSchools

Restaurants & Nightlife

If you're looking for a bite to eat in Wilkinsburg, head over to Penn Avenue and explore the family-style, low-key restaurants that serve up a range of options, from Soul Food to Italian. Stop by some of the independent, family owned shops to get a taste of what homemade should be like. Eat with the whole family at Salvatore's Pizza House, where the options go well beyond pies. Try a slice of the deep dish or order a toasted steak and cheese sub. They cook up wings made to order, as they do the 30-inch pizzas loaded with toppings of your choice — more than enough to feed the whole crew. Enjoy the closest thing to home cooking without eating in your own kitchen when you stop in at Soul Food Connection. The fried chicken comes highly recommended, and the sides get just as big a mention. Choose from old-fashioned collared greens, black-eyed peas, mac and cheese and more. You'll be transported to the Deep South without leaving Wilkinsburg. Get a whiting sandwich or a piece of ocean perch at Al's Fish and Chicken, where the meals span land and sea. Locals enjoy an order of wings, a generous portion of friend fish, gyros, salad and more from the eclectic menu. Don't miss the sweet treats at the end — the cheesecake and red velvet cake come highly recommended. The dry county rules make access to nightlife a little less common, but nearby Pittsburgh easily fills that need with bars, lounges and nightclubs to satisfy anyone's style.

History & Culture

Named for the Secretary of War under John Tyler, Wilkinsburg officially became independent from Pittsburgh in 1871. The area has a strong history of religious organizations and, as a result, carries the nickname, "The Holy City." As an homage to those roots, Wilkinsburg has been a dry area since 1870. While few museums and historical sites exist in the borough, people still learn about the history of the area by visiting some of the many churches that have been standing for generations. The local government has also preserved architecture from the turn of the century and earlier. Young people learn about the arts while enjoying family friendly productions at the Gemini Children's Theatre, and annual classes and events provide fun for every member of the group. The spirit of community also grows through things like the annual Love Your Neighbor Cookie Event.

Transportation

Locals get to and from Wilkinsburg primarily by driving U.S. Route 30. The Port Authority provides mass transit to the counties that connect to Pittsburgh, including many scheduled routes around Wilkinsburg. Hailing a cab likely means making an advance phone call to one of the companies that go out to Pittsburgh. Residents also use ride-share services like Uber. Bikers enjoy safe roadways that make it possible to get just about anywhere within the small community. Wilkinsburg encourages non-auto transit, with most destinations sitting within 15 minutes distance via any mode of transportation. Pedestrian pathways ensure that walkers get around town quickly, and you'll see many people traveling by foot. Public parking exists in lots throughout the borough.

Cost

The cost of living in Wilkinsburg comes in at 6 percent below the national average and about 1 percent lower than the nearby metropolis. Residents rent one-bedroom apartments in the area for around $725 per month. Trips on public transportation run $2.50 per zone, and they go all the way through several different counties. Filling up the tank in Wilkinsburg runs more than 20 percent higher than that national average.

Shopping

Few chains or nationally owned stores have made their way into Wilkinsburg. The majority of the shops that exist represent small, family owned operations that have been in the area for decades. To find them, head to Penn Street and the small downtown area. For unique, vintage and consignment options, residents shop at Clayton's Fashion House. Get a few new pieces of decor for the home or redecorate with all new furniture by stopping at G&E Interiors. Locals also stay on top of the newest looks at Argo Family Beauty Supply, where they pick up items for new hair styles, nail art and more. Residents satisfy everyday grocery needs at independently owned locations like Hanini's Market. They also opt to pick up produce and more from seven local farms by stopping in at the Wilkinsburg Farmers Market.

Parks

Despite the small land area and population, Wilkinsburg houses more than 12 parks and recreational areas that provide entertainment and activity for people of all ages. Most of the amenities come at no charge for residents, and they welcome leashed pets. Hunter Park encourages locals to get active on the playgrounds, basketball courts, baseball fields and more. Locals wander through conserved wooded areas and explore some of the natural wildlife, or set up a picnic on the lawns. While the amenities at Whitney Park provide plenty of entertainment to locals, the underground activity represents the most interesting part. Nearby waterway Nine Mile Run actually flows underneath the park. Say that you walked on water while you run through the different areas of the park that include basketball courts, playgrounds and baseball fields. Wilkinsburg also houses several mini-parks that pop up throughout the area and provide smaller bursts of things to enjoy. Ferguson Mini-Park and Holmes Street Mini-Park host picnics and playground equipment for all to enjoy. Most of the parks throughout the area host tournaments and games for youth sports, as well as other events.
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