View from Mt. Washington. Photo by Tracy Certo

Most go to Mt. Washington for the views, to stand on one of several observation decks and take in the sweeping panorama of our glittering downtown skyline in the embrace of mighty rivers on three sides.

USA Today named it one of the 10 most beautiful views in America. But Mt. Washington is so much more than a scenic view. More than 8,000 people live in this eclectic and diverse neighborhood, a community of contrasts where million dollar mansions and modern condos are only blocks from single family dwellings, red bricks and row homes that have been in families for generations.

Originally known as “Coal Hill,” Mt. Washington claims the highest elevation in Pittsburgh, bordered mostly by topography: the ridge that overlooks the Mon River on the north and Saw Mill Run Blvd. to the south with two tunnels on either side—Fort Pitt and Liberty.

The neighborhood has bragging rights to the Monongahela and Duquesne inclines, the oldest continually running funiculars in the world. A quaint shopping district serves the residents, with ice cream and coffee shops, fine-dining and classic dive bars and pizza parlors. Grandview Avenue is home to the classic LeMont as well as the new and contemporary Altius. There’s also Monterrey Bay Fish Company high atop a condo building. All three serve up stunning views with dinner.

The view aside, the community’s greatest jewel is its green spaces. Work is currently underway on an urban park of magnificent proportions, called the Emerald View Park.

The 280-acre park, created in December 2005 by the City of Pittsburgh, encircles the hilltop and boasts stunning urban views as well as recreational space. The Mt. Washington Community Development Corp. is working hard to recover, preserve and beautify the wooded terrain and create a network of footpaths from which to walk and see spectacular views.

Even by car, the views are to be appreciated. The state recognized this and named McArdle, Grandview, Wyoming and Sycamore a Pennsylvania State Scenic Byway.

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Deb is an award-winning journalist who loves ancient places and cool technologies. A former daily newspaper reporter and Time-Life Books editor, she writes mostly about Pittsburgh. Her stories have appeared in Fast Company, Ozy and Pittsburgh Magazine.