The main shopping district on Butler St. in Etna. Photo by Tom O'Connor.

With the close-knit feel of a bygone era mixed with a contemporary attitude, Etna is a great example of today’s Pittsburgh. It’s a likely contender to be among the next batch of up and coming neighborhoods to shift from well-kept secret to hot destination.

Fortunately, this small town within our big city is no stranger to heat: It’s believed the town was named for Mount Etna, the fiery Sicilian volcano, in reference to its history as a hub of industrial furnaces.

One of the area’s quintessential river towns — along with Sharpsburg, Millvale and Aspinwall — Etna has played a part in Pittsburgh’s history from its pre-Revolutionary days through the industrial years and into today as a thriving home for small businesses.

The human scale of the borough is one of the most striking things about Etna. Filled with 18th- and 19th-century houses, as well as some more modern homes, there are no high-rises here to tower over residents. Church steeples are about the tallest structures in town, giving the place much the same atmosphere as it had at its 1868 incorporation.

Don’t Miss

Etna’s main drag, Butler Street (not to be confused with Lawrenceville’s identically-named main drag), connects the borough with Route 8 and offers easy access to Downtown and to the nearby North Hills. Independent businesses abound along this stretch, including the ultimate small-town necessity, Winschel Hardware store.

Hungry? Check out E-Town Bar & Grille for great fish sandwiches and daily specials. And for a taste of the Burgh’s favorite dumpling, try Cop Out Pierogies and their custom-filled, scratch-made savory and dessert pierogies.

Etna newcomer Quickhatch Coffee & Food is a coffee shop with higher ambitions, hosting monthly brunch and pop-up dining events. Further down the road,  Huntz’s Tavern has tantalized generations with its famous turtle soup.

Pierogi-making at Cop Out. Photo by Tom O’Connor.
Pierogi-making at Cop Out. Photo by Tom O’Connor.

At just over three-quarters of a mile, Etna is a walkable neighborhood — a fact that helped the borough earn certification as a Live Well Allegheny Community in 2015. A number of creatively-named walking trails, including the Hops-n-Barley Loop, Heart-Stopper Loop, and Sleepy Hollow Loop will help you get to know the neighborhood. The town’s community garden also supports the local food bank.

A much-anticipated riverfront park is in the works that will connect Etna with neighboring Sharpsburg and Aspinwall.

Beyond walking, Etna has a thriving athletic scene. Facilities include a borough-run swimming pool, playground, hockey deck and two ballfields that see heavy use for youth sports. The DOH Club (stands for Deutsche Orden der Harugari) on Prospect Street is an old-school social club with a bar upstairs and throwback duckpin bowling in the basement. Each February its leagues compete for the “Ducky Cup” trophy.

Like the Ducky Cup, some of Etna’s best attractions are its seasonal events. Summer brings the Etna Carnival, Community Day and All Saints Church Festival. Fall marks the annual Etna Art Tour and the return of ScareHouse, voted one of the country’s scariest haunted houses. Winter and spring feature Light the Night and the Etna Economic Development Corporation’s Night at the Races.

Etna is also quickly becoming an arts incubator. Blue Hazel StudioPittsburgh Actors Space and 448 Studios offer studio space and equipment to local actors and artists. And Art & Style Dance Studio and Ideal Dance offer adult and youth dance lessons in every style from hip-hop to ballroom.

The community is also home to many independent artists, including Etna Print Circus — creators of custom-made, screen-printed t-shirts, posters, artwork and other goods — and enamel jelwery designer and educator Lindsay Huff, who both showcased their work at Handmade Arcade in December 2017.
Huntz’s Tavern in Etna. Photo by Tom O’Connor.
Huntz’s Tavern in Etna. Photo by Tom O’Connor.

Fast Facts

Together with much of the North Hills of Pittsburgh, Etna formed part of the Depreciation Lands, a tract of 720,000 acres of land set aside by the state of Pennsylvania to compensate Revolutionary War soldiers for their service due to the depreciation of U.S. currency during the war.

Though it was first settled in 1746, Etna is poised to celebrate the 150th anniversary of its incorporation in 2018.

Stats (from Niche)

Population: 3,432
Size: .08 sq. mi.
Median Rent: $692
Median Home Value: $81,700

See more Pittsburgh neighborhoods in our neighborhood guide.

A mural welcoming visitors to Etna. Photo by Tom O’Connor.
A mural welcoming visitors to Etna. Photo by Tom O’Connor.

Melanie Linn Gutowski is a historian, museum educator, and Gilded Age geek. She is the author of the pictorial histories “Pittsburgh’s Mansions” and “Kaufmann’s Department Store.” You'll usually find her at the Sharpsburg Library, the National Aviary, or cutting and pasting with the Pittsburgh Collage Collective.