Things to do in Allentown

Allentown, known for its incredible views of Downtown along Grandview Park, is becoming the talk of the town among businesses and individuals drawn to its low rent and housing costs.

Stats (from Niche)

  • Population: 2,320
  • Size: 0.4 sq. mi.
  • Median Rent: $705
  • Median Home Value: $42,312

The busy neighborhood of Allentown lies between Mt. Washington and Beltzhoover to the west and the South Side Slopes to the east, with Knoxville due south. Grandview Park, with some of the best views in the city, forms Allentown’s northern border.

Back in the day, many of the steelworkers and other laborers who could afford it would leave the South Side and move to Allentown, where the air was fresher and the crowds smaller. The same is true today, except that now it is much cheaper to live in Allentown than it is the South Side. According to Niche, the median home value in Allentown is $42,312, versus $233,779 in the South Side Flats. Also, on average, it is nearly $400 cheaper to rent in Allentown than it is the Flats.

Allentown

Allentown streets. Photo by Brian Conway.

Most of Allentown’s growing business district is centered around a small, walkable stretch of East Warrington Ave, a main street brimming with possibility and brick storefronts. Black Forge Coffee, the only heavy metal coffee shop in town, creates a much-needed “third place” where members of the community can meet and gather.

Also in the rock theme is Onion Maiden, an entirely vegan restaurant that specializes in plant-based Asian and American comfort food. With menu items such as “Munster Mash” and “Come my Pho-natics,” the eatery lives up to its punk-metal personality and is packed full of flavor.

Other spots to grab a good bite along East Warrington include Paisano’s, Leon’s Caribbean Food, Breakfast at Shelly’s and the higher-end and much-loved Alla Famiglia, which has been a mainstay for decades.

These days, artisans, makers and entrepreneurs are calling Allentown home and making it a destination for Pittsburghers. Visitors can get a warm welcome to the neighborhood by attending one of their recurring events — Allentown Night Market and Taste of Allentown.

Work Hard Pittsburgh, a co-op business incubator on East Warrington, continues to have a powerful impact on Allentown’s entrepreneurial culture, giving local residents the opportunity to start and scale their businesses.

Allentown’s emerging business district also includes Skull Records, Dark Root Barbershop, Salon Ivy, Black Market Deli (think fresh charcuterie, meat, cheese, handmade beef jerky and more).

A curiosity and oddities store, The Weeping Glass, hosts two night market events throughout the year, which attract hundreds of patrons. There’s also the new Dr. Tumblety’s Apothocary and Tasting Lounge, a vintage and antique retail store with a speakeasy in the back.

N3D Instagram winner

Photo by @haggertymedia, winner of the Steel City Grammers contest during NEXT 3 Days Hilltop.

In the summer, the Grandview Park bandshell is home to weekly free movie screenings courtesy of the city’s Dollar Bank Cinema in the Park series. There is also a children’s playground, basketball court and world-class views of Pittsburgh and the surrounding Hilltop neighborhoods.

And while the trolleys of yore are but a distant memory, East Warrington is still equipped to handle rail traffic, and the T passes through when there’s a detour elsewhere along the line. Allentown is also served by the 43, 48 and 54 bus lines.

Time will tell if the T returns to Allentown. What is no longer in question is whether Allentown will re-emerge: That is happening now. And for many, it’s a joy to behold.