Discover Etna: Small Town Charm Near Pittsburgh

In Allegheny County, Etna is a charming borough with a storied past, sitting conveniently across the Allegheny River from Pittsburgh. Known for its rich industrial heritage, Etna once thrived as a steel town, housing the Isabella Furnace of Carnegie Steel until 1953. Today, this suburb of the Pittsburgh metropolitan area is celebrated not only for its history but also as the first ever ecodistrict, reflecting a strong commitment to sustainability.

As Etna, located near Pittsburgh, transitions into a vibrant community blending old and new, it offers an array of attractions and lifestyle benefits. With a total area of just 0.80 square miles, all land, and a population of 3,437 as of the 2020 census, Etna stands out as a testament to small-town charm near the bustling city life of Pittsburgh. This borough presents a unique living experience in Pittsburgh’s landscape, making Etna an intriguing destination for residents and visitors alike.

Etna’s Rich History and Industrial Past

Etna, PA’s journey from a modest trading post to a bustling industrial town is a testament to American ingenuity and perseverance. The borough’s evolution is deeply intertwined with significant historical figures and pioneering industries that have left an indelible mark on its identity.

Etna PA

  • Early Settlement and Industrialization:
    1. 1740s: George Croghan, an Irish settler, establishes a trading post, laying the groundwork for Etna’s future.
    2. 1828: The Etna Iron Works is founded by Henry S. Spang, catalyzing the area’s industrial growth.
    3. 1868: The village, initially named Centerville, is officially renamed Etna, inspired by the constant industrial glow reminiscent of an erupting volcano.
  • Notable Historical Ties:
    • George Washington surveyed the land for the Virginia Land Company, marking the area’s strategic importance.
    • Chief Guyasuta and General Williams Wilkins are among the notable figures associated with Etna’s early history, highlighting its rich cultural tapestry.
  • Industrial Milestones:
    • The Mount Etna Iron Furnace Complex and the Isabella Furnace of Carnegie Steel were pivotal in advancing the iron and steel industries, contributing significantly to the regional economy.
    • The Pennsylvania Canal played a crucial role in transportation, enhancing Etna’s connectivity and facilitating its industrial boom.

Etna’s rich history is a blend of cultural heritage and industrial innovation, making it a fascinating chapter in the broader narrative of Pittsburgh’s development.

Etna PA

Etna Today: A Blend of Old and New

Etna seamlessly blends its historical roots with modern innovation, showcasing a vibrant transformation that honors its past while embracing the future. Central to this transformation is the old steel mill, the oldest running mill in the country since 1828, now being repurposed into a clean energy plant for Westinghouse’s nuclear battery technology. This ambitious project aims to provide electricity to underserved communities and generate new employment opportunities, with construction phases indicating operational offices by year-end and manufacturing to commence by mid-next year.

The borough’s economic landscape is further enriched by its diverse array of independent businesses, including landmarks like Winschel Hardware store and E-Town Bar & Grille, alongside newer additions such as Cop Out Pierogies and Quickhatch Coffee & Food. This blend of traditional and contemporary establishments contributes to Etna’s resurgence, revitalizing the local economy and attracting a younger demographic. Families moving to Etna are drawn by its community-centric ethos, with numerous youth-oriented activities and a growing business district along Butler Street, which was recognized as one of the Great Places in Pennsylvania in 2021.

Etna’s commitment to sustainability and community development is evident in its designation as the first ever ecodistrict in 2019, underscoring its dedication to green spaces and recreational facilities like Etna River Front Park and the Dougherty Nature Trail. This balance of industrial heritage, modern innovation, and community engagement positions Etna as a dynamic and appealing place to live, work, and visit, making it a key player in the Pittsburgh metropolitan area’s ongoing story of growth and revitalization.

Sustainability Efforts and Green Spaces

Etna, PA, showcases a remarkable commitment to sustainability and the creation of green spaces, reflecting its dedication to a healthier environment and community well-being. The borough’s initiatives are diverse, ranging from art projects to infrastructural developments designed to mitigate environmental impacts and enhance the quality of life for its residents.

  • Community Engagement and Recognition:
    • Collaboration with Shaler Area High School led to the creation of glass mosaic fish at Etna EcoPark, symbolizing community and environmental harmony.
    • Achieved a Gold designation from Sustainable Pennsylvania, highlighting Etna’s exemplary sustainability practices.
  • Innovative Policies and Projects:
    • Water Management: Installation of rain barrels at recreational facilities and the implementation of ordinances to manage stormwater effectively.
    • Energy Efficiency: Adoption of solar device regulations for homeowners and the installation of energy-efficient lighting in municipal buildings.
    • Green Spaces: Development of the Etna Riverfront Trail and Park, and the transformation of vacant lots into vibrant parklets like the ECO Park Rain Garden.
  • Strategic Environmental Plans:
    • The Etna Climate Action Plan sets ambitious emission reduction targets, aiming for a significant decrease by 2050.
    • The Etna Green Infrastructure Master Plan and the Complete Streets Resolution focus on incorporating green infrastructure and promoting active transportation, respectively.

Through these concerted efforts, Etna not only preserves its natural beauty but also positions itself as a leader in sustainable urban living, making it an exemplary model for communities nationwide.

Etna PA

Etna PA

The Vibrant Community and Cultural Scene

Etna, PA, thrives as a vibrant community where the Etna Community Organization (ECO) spearheads a myriad of initiatives aimed at fostering community spirit and environmental stewardship. Among these initiatives are:

  • Etna EcoDistrict and Etna Center for Community: Pioneering projects that promote sustainability and community engagement.
  • Community Library: A hub for learning and connection, offering a variety of programs for all ages.

ECO’s commitment to enriching the cultural scene is evident through events and classes designed to bring residents together:

  • Cultural and Fundraising Events: ‘An Etna Carol’ library fundraiser, costume ball, and the Etna Arts Festival.
  • Music and Art Classes: You Be You Music Classes, Grown Up and Me & Creative Kids Music Club, Pop-Up Paint Night.

The borough’s vibrant community life extends beyond ECO’s activities, with Etna hosting numerous events that draw both locals and visitors:

  • Seasonal and Annual Events: Etna Carnival, Community Day, All Saints Church Festival, Etna Holiday Parade, and the Etna Barbeque Cook-off.
  • Arts and Entertainment: Studios like Blue Hazel Studio and 448 Studios contribute to Etna’s reputation as an arts incubator, alongside attractions like ScareHouse and Light the Night.

Etna’s rich community spirit is further amplified by its array of local businesses, from popular restaurants like Alioto’s Restaurant & Sports Bar to unique shops, all within walking distance of each other, creating a close-knit atmosphere that champions local entrepreneurship and camaraderie among residents.

Living in Etna: Housing, Education, and Services

Etna, PA, presents a compelling case for those considering a move, especially given its affordable living options and comprehensive range of services. With a median rent of $692 and home values averaging at $81,700, Etna stands out as a budget-friendly choice near Pittsburgh. The real estate market here is experiencing a positive trend, attracting attention for its affordability and strategic location.

Key Services Offered in Etna:

  • Public Safety and Administration: Ensuring a safe and well-managed community.
  • Utilities and Infrastructure: Water, garbage disposal, and sustainable energy initiatives.
  • Community Support: Senior services, special needs assistance, and emergency notifications.

Etna is not just about affordable living; it’s a community enriched with amenities and services. From the borough-run swimming pool, playground, and sports facilities to the comprehensive educational opportunities within the Shaler Area School District, Etna caters to families and individuals alike. The Borough’s commitment to sustainability, public safety, and community engagement, alongside its housing affordability, positions Etna as an attractive locale for those seeking proximity to Pittsburgh without the city price tag.

Why Etna is Pittsburgh’s Next Favorite Destination

Etna is fast becoming Pittsburgh’s next favorite destination, and it’s not hard to see why. The borough’s allure is multifaceted, appealing to a diverse range of residents and visitors alike. Here are some compelling reasons:

  • Walkability and Community Engagement:
    • Etna boasts walkable neighborhoods, replete with creatively named walking trails and a flourishing community garden. This not only promotes a healthy lifestyle but also fosters a strong sense of community among residents.
  • Local Business and Events:
    • The Etna Business Association plays a crucial role in promoting local businesses and organizing community events. These efforts contribute significantly to the vibrant local economy and the borough’s social fabric.
  • Proximity to Pittsburgh:
    • Etna’s strategic location near Pittsburgh offers the best of both worlds – the benefits of city living along with the charm of a close-knit, small-town community. This makes Etna an attractive option for those who wish to enjoy Pittsburgh’s amenities while residing in a more tranquil setting.


Etna’s transformation is vividly recounted through its industrial heritage, commitment to sustainability, fostering a close-knit community, and revitalizing its local economy. These pivotal elements not only underscore Etna’s unique charm but also its significant role within the Pittsburgh metropolitan area, making it a place of interest for both residents and visitors.

Etna embodies a model of community-driven growth, where sustainability and history coalesce to forge a brighter, greener future. Its myriad initiatives—from repurposing historical sites for modern use, to engaging local businesses and cultural enrichments—reflect a borough that is not just living in the present but paving the way forward. It beckons further exploration and appreciation, ideally inspiring other communities to follow in its eco-conscious footsteps. As Etna continues to develop and enrich its cultural tapestry, it stands as a testament to what is possible when community, heritage, and innovation harmoniously intertwine.

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