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North Hills Monthly

Community Guide: Millvale

Oct 30, 2015 03:05PM ● By Clare Heekin Lynch
Conveniently located only minutes from downtown Pittsburgh, the borough of Millvale, PA, is a rural town in an urban setting. Long-time residents and business owners make up the soul of the town and are the epitome of the word ‘resilience.’ Having endured years of flooding and the resulting economic challenges, the Millvale you see today proves that people can adapt and promote positive change.

Small Town America
Founded in 1868, Millvale built its foundation on iron manufacturers, saw and stone works and lumber mills. While the southern half of Millvale was then a part of what was known as Allegheny City, across from downtown Pittsburgh, the area annexed itself from Pittsburgh in 1907. Located at the confluence of Girty’s Run and the Allegheny River, Millvale has a total area of about 0.7 square miles and a population of around 3,700 residents, and was served by the ‘3 Millvale’ trolley operated by Pittsburgh Railways until 1952.

An iconic image of small-town America, Millvale boasts a quaint, walkable downtown area that is nostalgic of simpler times. With steadfast businesses, including Yetter’s Candy, featuring homemade candies and delicious milkshakes, Esther’s Hobby Shop, where one can buy model-building kits, and Attic Record Store for those hard-to-find music collections, Millvale is a hidden gem.

But outsiders are slowly discovering this nugget, as recent brushes with Hollywood prove. Millvale was the site of filming for the new WGN television series, Outsiders, as well as the CBS Films production, Love the Coopers, which will be released this month.

Dining, Entertainment and the Outdoors
“Millvale is truly a ‘destination business’ location,” said Borough Manager Amy Rockwell. “You may come for one reason—whether it be lagers from one of our two breweries, Draai Laag and Grist House Brewing, delicious pastries from Jean-Marc Chatellier’s French Bakery, or the exquisite, painted murals of St. Nicholas Croatian Catholic Church, which was the first Croatian Catholic parish in America—but you’ll find yourself exploring and discovering other new places.”

Visitors and residents alike also flock to Mr. Smalls Theatre & Funhouse concert venue, recording studio, art gallery and bar and restaurant, and De More’s Pizzeria, which was recently voted 2015 Best Pizza in the ‘Burg by radio station Star 100.7. And locals appreciate Millvale’s great location.

“It’s so easy to access the Millvale Riverfront Park trail, which connects to the Three Rivers Heritage Trail, to bike to North Shore attractions in minutes,” said Rockwell. “Riverfront Park is also home to our popular annual BrewFest in August, the Harvest Moon Wine Festival in the fall, and the Allegheny Solarfest in June.” Other park amenities include a beautiful pavilion with riverfront access, Millvale Marina, kayak and rowing boat launch access, fishing and more.

Millvale benefits from a mix of its existing historical architecture and its natural resources, which the development committee embraces and promotes. “We have unique spaces and buildings that give us the opportunity to do something a little out of the ordinary, and people are drawn to it,” said Rockwell. In fact, the Millvale Borough Development Corporation (MBDC), in collaboration with developer Hotel D2 and Cobblestone Hotels, will be building a 65-room boutique hotel in Millvale in 2016.

In 2013, the Millvale Community Library (MCL) opened, and now serves as another community asset. “MCL is considered more than just a library,” said Rockwell. “As exemplified by their mission statement, they are an ‘agent for positive change’ and see it as their job to support our community economically, ecologically, and socially in order to make our town a nicer place to live and learn.” MCL provides an extensive list of programming for community members of all ages, including GED support.

Sustainability from the Ground Up
In February 2015, the Borough of Millvale joined a select group of high performing municipalities to become GOLD certified through the Sustainable Pennsylvania Community Certification program. The town is also proud to have passed a solar ordinance in 2014, and its library is completely reliant on solar energy.

“In addition to energy sustainability, the town has numerous garden plots and hoop houses for year-round growing that bring together residents and business owners to teach the art of horticulture,” said Rockwell. The Borough’s partnership with MBDC will also bring the addition of a Food Hub market to the center of town.

“There are many fun things to do in Millvale, but not so many that there’s any danger of losing our small town charm,” said Rockwell. “We welcome you to come take a walking tour or a bike tour of our area.” 

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Upcoming Events:
  • Nov. 15: The Fun of Fermentation, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., Millvale Community Center (Learn to make sauerkraut — course includes all utensils and cabbage.) $20
  • Dec. 5: Santa Celebration, 11 a.m. - 1:30 p.m., Millvale Community Center, free
  • Dec. 6: Senior Christmas luncheon for Millvale seniors