Neighborhood Walk: Monroeville

My apologies for the lack of photos – I work in O’Hara Township and it’s been dark when I left and when I came home today, but I’ve included a few web photos and lots of links to give you an idea of the place…

\Monroeville, Pennsylvania.  To most people this evokes an image of a giant strip mall.


Okay, pretty much, there IS a giant strip mall down the center.  But Monroeville just might surprise you anyway.  Let’s start with a little history.  It’s named after Joel Monroe, who was the first postmaster.  Judge Thomas Mellon, founder of the bank with that name, actually went to school here, at the Tranquil Retreat Academy


Monroeville is also the location of the Old Stone Church, one of the early homes of Crossroads Presbyterian Church and dedicated in 1834.  Mellon’s father was one of the founders.  The Crossroads congregation has since moved to another building in Monroeville, but weddings are still held here and people are still being buried in the cemetery.


Over the next hundred years, Monroeville slowly took shape, and in 1954, Miracle Mile Shopping Center, one of the first strip malls in the country, opened, followed in 1969 by Monroeville Mall, yes, that one, the site of Dawn of the Dead and now the location of an annual Zombie Walk.  Westinghouse opened it’s Nuclear Research center there in 1971.  East Suburban Hospital (now Forbes) opened in 1978, and in 1995 – yes, it was that recent! — the last dairy farm closed.  Finally, in 2006, Monroeville opened a big new Municipal park.

Boyce Park is technically here, but it’s not actually a Monroeville Park – it is Allegheny County property.  Community College of Allegheny County’s Boyce Campus IS in Monroeville, and it’s a fantastic educational facility.

Okay, so what about MY Monroeville?  Here’s some stops that I regularly make in Monroeville…


Stonecliffe Apartments, built on the former Johnston’s Dairy Farm is soon to be no longer my home as I’m moving into a house.  The apartments have a pool and tennis courts, and a healthy population of Asians and Indians and Muslims, providing wonderful international exposure for my son.



Speaking of which, did you know that Monroeville is home to three different Indian temples?  There is a Sikh temple and two Hindu temples, including the Sri Venkateswara Temple, one of the first Hindu temples in the United States and site of pilgrimages by Hindus all over the USA!


Across busy Monroeville Boulevard is Miracle Mile Shopping Center, home of the newest LA Fitness as well as Starbucks and Panera.  Nearby is Eat N’ Park, a local restaurant chain.  One of Monroeville’s best kept secrets is Nick Marie’s Esta Esta, a fantastic Italian restaurant founded in the 1950s.


Other stops I might make in Monroeville are:


Primanti Brothers:  Everyone in Pittsburgh has heard of and probably eaten at one of the various Primanti locations.  This one is unique in the fact that it was the very first one to be built from the ground up instead of using an exiting building.


Phantom of the Attic:  I no longer collect comic books, but this is a well known shop for comic book fans.


Tolerico’s:  Another good Italian restaurant.  It was established just recently.


La Cucina Dolce:  Yet another good, local Italian restaurant!  (And yes, there’s an Olive Garden in Monroeville, but you can still go local instead of to a chain!)


Monroeville is also home to several Indian grocery stores and restaurants as well.


I love Monroeville.  From where I lived (Stonecliffe), I could walk to the grocery store, to Starbucks or LA Fitness, and even, if I was ambitious, to Monroeville Mall two miles away.  Even when driving, nothing is more than ten minutes with traffic.  This included the Monroeville Library which is apparently the third largest in Allegheny County in terms of circulating books.  As I’ve noted, the population is pretty international.  Soon, UPMC will establish a second hospital here, but Westinghouse will be moving to Cranberry, so it will be interesting to see how things change over the next few years…

I’ve barely scratched the surface of this suburb, but I hope you can see that there is indeed more to Monroeville than you might think!


Join the Rustbelt Neighborhood Walk!

I’m excited about this.  My neighborhood is Monroeville, and i think it’s a really misunderstood place.  Can’t wait to give my impression of it!

Cynthia Closkey


They’re using cutting-edge technology to revitalize Rust Belt cities

PITTSBURGH, PA – OCTOBER 30, 2008 – The problems of post-industrial cities seem so complex, intertwined, and entrenched, it’s hard to imagine how to start restoring these places to their former glory.

But a group of bloggers says that getting started can be as simple as taking a walk.

The Neighborhood Walk is a chance for individuals throughout the Rust Belt of the U.S. and Canada to recognize the place they live, work, or call home — and to introduce it to the world. The project is the inspiration of a social network called Rust Belt Bloggers.

On November 11, 2008 (11/11/2008), bloggers, podcasters, vloggers, photobloggers and others throughout the Rust Belt region will each take a walk around their neighborhood, make media about it — a blog post, photo gallery, video, or whatever you prefer — and post it on the web.

These individual perspectives and accounts of life at the street level will show both strengths and weaknesses of these neighborhoods: new businesses taking root, old factories and shops closed and abandoned. By raising awareness this way, the people involved hope to build interest in simple revitalization efforts.

How can someone get involved? Take a walk around your block and photograph what you see. Sit outside and write about the people who pass and the world around you. Turn on your video camera and give a guided tour of your neighborhood.

Post your media anywhere — your blog, Facebook, MySpace, anywhere. Tag it as “neighborhoodwalk” so everyone can seek out what everyone else has posted. Then do a search and see everyone else’s neighborhood.

This is the first project of its kind dedicated to documenting and raising awareness of life, work, and culture in the Rust Belt of the United States and Canada. More than 20 bloggers throughout the region have already committed to the project, with more joining each day.

About Rust Belt Bloggers
Rust Belt Bloggers is a group that uses social media to discover and build upon opportunities available in the Rust Belt cities — post-industrial cities in the northern states of the U.S. and southern provinces of Canada. For more information, visit