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Harrisburg area Cumberland, Dauphin, and Perry Counties
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Old 06-18-2018, 06:47 AM
Status: "Living in South Central PA! We made it!" (set 10 days ago)
83 posts, read 81,175 times
Reputation: 57


What's that part of town like? Walkable? Safe? Easy to get in and out of? Asking as I'm looking at houses in the area near North Second Street. Have a large family (7 kids ages 1 - 12) so safety is pretty important.

I've visited the areas near and around City Island, bordered by 7th Street, Forster Street, and down towards Paxton Street. Found that part of town great. Am wondering what parts of Harrisburg are the more desireable ones to live in and around.
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Old 06-19-2018, 05:18 PM
Location: Harrisburg, PA
628 posts, read 426,788 times
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Being a small city, it is usually broken down into 5 parts: Uptown, Midtown, Downtown, Allison Hill, and Southside. Downtown is the most desirable given that its neighborhoods are walkable to so many jobs and amenities, followed by Midtown and Uptown. Allison Hill and the Southside areas tend to be less desirable, even though they do have urban character. The dividing streets among the sections of the city are Cameron, Forster, Maclay, and Paxton. Not exactly sure where the Wards fall, or if that even matters other than for voting.

North Second always seemed pretty decent to me. Lots of historical building stock along that corridor. Lots of large houses/duplexes. There is a plan to convert it back to a 2-way street to make it seem more residential. Definitely an accessible part of town as you can quickly get to Front/Second/Third/Seventh streets to get where you are going. Lastly I might add that it will be more affordable than living downtown too. Good luck!

Last edited by g500; 06-19-2018 at 05:45 PM..
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Old 06-20-2018, 08:02 PM
Status: "Living in South Central PA! We made it!" (set 10 days ago)
83 posts, read 81,175 times
Reputation: 57
Thanks so much for the response! That was very helpful.
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Old 06-21-2018, 04:41 PM
Location: Philadelphia
273 posts, read 198,704 times
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Let me offer a slightly different perspective—I wouldn’t rank Uptown below Downtown, if for no other reason than that Downtown has much less to offer in terms of residential properties. Regardless, the type of homes they have to offer is quite different, so whether one is more attractive than the other depends on what you’re looking for.

Many of Downtown’s c. 1890s row houses were either cleared in the 20th century to make room for modern commercial buildings or were converted into professional offices (attorneys, doctors), cafés, and shops. Obviously different people have different priorities in terms of what they want in a home, but I know that for many home seekers, being the one of the few residents on a block filled with offices isn’t a very attractive proposition. (Personally, I wouldn’t mind.) There are a few blocks near Forster that are mostly residential, but even combining these blocks with the few residential homes scattered between the offices and shops, you’re not likely to find much inventory south of Forster.

Additionally, there’s a small neighborhood called Shipoke sandwiched between the river and the onramps to I-83. It’s mostly quite nice, quaint, and tree-lined (and residential) but I’d consider it separate from Downtown.

Much of Midtown is filled with turn-of-the-cenury row houses that are fairly similar to the ones Downtown—the primary difference being that most of the blocks are more uniformly residential. As you go northward through Midtown toward Uptown, the row houses eventually give way to large, stately twin homes (i.e. duplexes where either side is under separate ownership). Detached single family homes are peppered in the mix beginning in Midtown and become gradually more common by the time you reach Uptown. Twins are still common from Maclay north to Division Street, but above Division, detached homes are prevalent.

So if you’re looking for a detached single family home in a fairly nice neighborhood, Uptown is perhaps the best place to look. Certainly the greater setbacks, green lawns, and tree canopy give much of Uptown a more relaxed and residential feel, which may or may not appeal to you.

As for walkability, Midtown and Uptown are both walkable in the sense that sidewalks are basically everywhere and the terrain is fairly level, but there’s less to walk to the further north you go. But if you’re willing to hop on a bike, you can have a stress-free cruise down the riverfront path and get to anywhere downtown in a few minutes, car-free.

And as a very rough rule, the neighborhoods within a couple blocks of the river are generally the nicest. Front is fairly nice throughout its length as is 2nd. You’re generally more likely to see shabby homes as you head eastward. A crime “heat map” that I found on another site seems to bear this out: Uptown is fairly cool (i.e. low crime) from Front through about 3rd, then increases through 4th and 5th and peaks around 6th.

I hope this information helps!
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Old 06-21-2018, 05:59 PM
Status: "Living in South Central PA! We made it!" (set 10 days ago)
83 posts, read 81,175 times
Reputation: 57
Thanks for the response, and yes, it helped quite a bit.

Definitely would prefer a detached home instead of a twin. Lived that life in college...that was enough for me, lol.

We'd prefer blocks with many home as opposed to a few given we have kids, but I appreciate the insight nonetheless.

So much to take in, but the gist of it is that the "belt" starting in Carlisle and heading east all the way through Lititz/Ephrata is where I will probalby concentrate my job search and hence, my house hunt.
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Old 07-09-2018, 05:43 PM
Location: Philadelphia
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Major insight comes from what type of environment you are looking for.

Harrisburg is going through a bit of a renaissance as of late. With growing momentum (especially from young creative types) landing at some really cool venues in Midtown:

The Millworks
Broad Street Market
Midtown Scholar
Midtown Cinema
Susquehanna Art Musuem

Just to name a few. If you are seeking that urban character and want a large, historic and quite charming home, at a more affordable rate than the suburbs. Harrisburg is your ticket. The public schools are less than desirable, but the Harrisburg dioceses offers a strong parochial option.

Uptown Harrisburg is quite charming. I highly recommend going to google maps and checking out the Italian Lake section of the city in Uptown. Large quaint homes. Lots of character and honestly quite affordable, given the size and charm.

Check out this publication: https://theburgnews.com/

It sounds like Harrisburg is really checking off all your marks, and this insanely smart publication is a great source of news/information for the city and in some smaller parts the region. It is positive minded and community based, and does a great job of communicating all the positive changes happening inside the city.

If you are looking outside the city, you are going to find the MOST desirable areas to be Camp Hill (West Shore) and Hershey (East Shore). (Real Estate is priciest in these two communities but also way more affordable than larger East Coast metros)

Hummelstown and Lower Paxton Twp/West Hanover Twp. (East Shore)

Mechanicsburg and New Cumberland (West Shore)

Are going to be other areas to consider. As insignificant as it seems, the Susquehanna river divides the metro area, and a strong East Shore (East side of the river : same side as the city) and the West Shore (west of the river) identify differently, and rarely interact with each other, although both are similar in character.

To be honest I would recommend New Cumberland as one of your TOP areas to consider. The mature, but lovely tree lined neighborhoods on the northern end of Bridge St. offer affordable homes, less than 2 miles from the capitol building. And you have incredibly easy access to both the East Shore and West Shore communities.

I would stay clear of Carlisle. (Too much traffic).

I know you mentioned 81. But I would not look at it as an attractive route to be located near for daily commuting purposes. It is a traffic clogged mess. For the trips you need to make down south, the extra 20, maybe 30 minutes to get to 81 will hardly be noticeable.

Let me know if you have any questions or want more insight!
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