One of Pittsburgh’s southern Hilltop communities, Allentown is nestled between Beltzhoover & Mount Washington (Beltzhoover Ave) on the West; South Side Slopes on the north (Arlington Ave) and east; and Knoxville (Cedarhurst) on the south.
Allentown was named for Joseph Allen, who purchased the land in 1827, and was annexed by the City of Pittsburgh in 1872, along with Birmingham (now South Side). The neighborhood was originally home to a large number of upwardly mobile German immigrants who moved up the hill from the mills on the South Side. This history is apparent in the architecural style of rustic, wooden rows of housing.
Allentown is home to Grandview Park, which was officially dedicated in 1909. The land below the park was the site of coal mining in the 19th and 29th centuries, giving the area its former name: Coal Hill. Most of the park is on steep hillside, with trails running throughout, but there is an area of flatland, which includes Grandview Elementary School and a playground, and is one of the sites for cinema in the parks.
Allentown is currently facing its share of problems, from crime to vacant properties and storefronts to economic decline. The neighborhood had high hopes that its youth hostel, which opened in the late 1990s would attract new businesses, but this did not pan out, and it closed its doors in 2003.
Neighborhood residents continue to work to bring investment and interest to Allentown. The neighborhood played host (along with Mount Oliver) to FLUX 11 in 2003, they are taking part in a community planning process with eight other Hilltop communities, and Warrington Ave will sport a large mural to be completed later this year.