Mapping Pittsburgh Neighborhoods

Hopefully I’ll be graduating sometime in 2008 and depending on whether certain funding comes through, we may be moving back to Pittsburgh in the not-too-distant future. So, we’ve started looking at potential places to live. If the funding comes through, I’ll be working at CMU, so we’d like to live somewhere close. Although both Heather and I lived both on and off campus during our undergrad years at CMU, we (I especially) don’t know the nearby neighborhoods very well. In particular, I don’t have a good sense of where, for example, Squirrel Hill ends and Shadyside begins, or where Friendship is. I had certainly heard the names of neighborhoods like Point Breeze and Regent Square, but I didn’t have a good idea of where they were. So, I set about to educate myself about these things.

What I wanted was a Google Map with colored overlays defining each neighborhood. However, I could not find such a thing. So, I decided I should make one. I get my data from this site, operated by the City of Pittsburgh. If you click on a neighborhood, it’ll bring up a map of that neighborhood. That page also contains a link to a pdf file of the map, which you can zoom in on if necessary. It’s a little tedious, but I’m copying a neighborhood at a time into a Google Map using the “My Maps” interface.

It’s been interesting so far and some things have been a little surprising. For example, did you know that CMU is technically in Squirrel Hill, not Oakland? Despite having spent 4 years at CMU, I did not know that. I would have said that Squirrel Hill starts immediately to the east of CMU. However, as far as the City of Pittsburgh is concerned, that is not the case. Also, there are a bunch of neighborhoods that I had never heard of, like Terrace Village.

My map has existed for less than 24 hours and has already been viewed almost 300 times, so I’m hopeful that people are finding it useful despite its incomplete status. If anyone would like to help me in this endeavor, let me know, and I’ll invite you to collaborate, which will give you the necessary permissions to edit the map. I think you may need to have a Gmail account for it to work, but I’m not sure.

6 Responses to “Mapping Pittsburgh Neighborhoods”

  1. May 4, 2008 at 7:50 pm

    That’s very cool. Good job.

  2. May 4, 2008 at 7:56 pm

    Also, I’ve always love the buildings in the Bluff/ Soho. Other favorite neighborhoods: Mexican War Streets, South Side and Junction Hollow.

    Funny that you should post this. Pat and I were just wondering if you were still thinking about moving back to Pgh.

  3. May 5, 2008 at 1:11 pm

    That’s cool that you started this. I’ve always wanted to do this very thing. Maybe I should do it for San Diego neighborhoods.

    Are you guys thinking about living in the city?

  4. 4 Colin
    May 5, 2008 at 2:07 pm

    @Patrick: After having lived in Cambridge for nearly 6 years, we’re accustomed to living in a more urban environment. We really like the little neighborhood shops and being able to walk places. Plus, if we lived close to where I would work, we’d be able to get by with only one car, which would be nice. On this map, I’ve mostly been focused on the neighborhoods close to CMU since, if we lived in one of them, I could potentially walk or bike to work. However, since I thought that this type of map would be useful to lots of people, I’d like to expand it to include all the neighborhoods in the City of Pittsburgh and potentially even other municipalities in the region.

    @Adrian: Thanks. Yeah, there are some really interesting neighborhoods in Pittsburgh. I hope that this project gives me a greater sense of where everything is so if/when we move back, I’ll have a better basis for understanding and appreciating the various neighborhoods.

  5. May 20, 2008 at 8:05 am

    Highland Park has a great advantage: the park. Plus, the zoo is nearby.

  6. 6 Colin
    May 20, 2008 at 10:35 am

    So, it’s looking more likely that the funding *will* come through, so we’ll start looking a little more earnestly. We had been primarily considering places that were close to CMU, but we’ll probably expand things to include areas within a short walk of a major bus route. That could make Highland Park workable. The zoo would be really nice for our daughter and I’ve always liked the neighborhood. It still has a city feel but there are houses with yards, which is nice. It may also be substantially cheaper than the neighborhoods directly adjacent to the universities. We’ll have to see.

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