Altoona is a third class city in Blair County, Pennsylvania, United States. It is the principal city of the Altoona Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA). The population was 46,320 at the time of the 2010 Census, making it the tenth most populous city in Pennsylvania. The Altoona MSA includes all of Blair County and was recorded as having a population of 127,089 at the 2010 Census, around 100,000 of which live within a 5-mile (8.0 km) radius of the Altoona city center according to U.S. Census zip code population data. This includes the adjacent boroughs of: Hollidaysburg and Duncansville, adjacent townships of: Logan, Allegheny, Blair, Frankstown, Antis, and Tyrone, as well as nearby boroughs of: Bellwood and Newry.
The Downtown is the cultural and commercial center of Altoona and straddles the famous railroads. As is typical to a traditional city layout, the downtown is centrally located and contains significant development in all directions from the downtown. Much of the downtown area is listed on the National Register of Historic Places as the Downtown Altoona Historic District. Popular landmarks include the Mishler Theatre, the Penn Alto Building (formerly the Penn Alto Hotel), the Gable's Building, City Hall, the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament, and Eleventh Avenue itself.
Downtown Altoona is notable for having several churches, such as the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament at the corner of 13th Street and 13th Avenue, the Presbyterian church on the corner of 12th Street and 14th Avenue, and the First Lutheran Church on the corner of 14th Street and 12th Avenue. The Station Medical Center, formerly known as the Station Mall, was a downtown mall built during the 1970s in place of many old railroad shops. The downtown contains most of what's known as Altoona's Little Italy district. Because of the geography of the area, exact or natural boundaries for Downtown are not present. Therefore Downtown is generally defined by what the City has zoned as Central Business: between 13th Ave and the PRR Expressway, and from 7th Street to 16th Street. However it is common for areas within Logantown and Center City to be expressed locally as "downtown." One unique little known fact is that the Texas Hot Dog was originally created in downtown Altoona in 1918, although the Paterson, New Jersey Texas Hot Dog location, which opened in 1924, is more famous.
Center City comprises industrial and commercial zones as well as urban and multiple household residential zones. Often, the Center City, Little Italy, and Gospel Hill areas (as well as Lower Fairview) are included as part of "downtown" for tourism and promotional purposes, much like how the Strip District in Pittsburgh is promoted. This is due to both the proximity and the fact that the buildings from these sections are similar to downtown buildings and blend in with the skyline. On the west side of the tracks, Center City extends around Downtown 2-3 blocks with heavy residential, industrial and commercial to the north, south and west. The eastern side of the tracks, which according to the public maps is called "East Side," runs along the length of the tracks from 1st Street to 23rd street and from the tracks to 6th Ave west to east. However, the Altoona Area High School is considered Center City despite standing on the Dutch Hill side of 6th Ave. The East Side of Center City is home to the High School and Junior High, the former Roosevelt Junior High School, the Altoona Railroaders Museum, Boyer Candies, the Station Medical Center of Altoona Regional Health System, as well as many current and old railroad facilities.
Mansion Park gets its name from the famous historical Baker Mansion which stands in this area. There are several streets surrounding the old plantation where mansions built in the early 20th century still stand. Mansion Park Stadium is also located here, which is the 10,000 seat stadium where the Altoona Mountain Lions play. The Mansion Park area is located east of 6th Ave, with Logan Blvd and Ward Ave to the south, 27th Street to the north and a block past Union Ave to the east.
Highland Park is the area south of Logan Blvd, east of 6th Ave, north of 57th Street and west of Ruskin Drive. The name comes from the hill that the area is centered on is the only significant highland in southern Altoona. The actual Highland Park is located on top of the hill. Highland Park is zoned entirely suburban.
Fairview is a mostly residential area North and West of Downtown and Logantown. It borders Calvert Hills to the south at 12th Street, Downtown and Logantown to the east along 16th Ave and Willow Ave and then along Cherry Ave after 5th Street, and borders Juniata Gap Road to the north. Fairview is zoned as multiple household residential in the areas directly bordering Downtown, and transitions to single household residential after 21st Ave, and eventually to suburban after 24th Ave. At times, you see some single unit houses on 13th through 16th Avenues, and 16th through 18th Streets, amongst much taller office, retail, and apartment buildings. Many of the houses in the part of downtown near Fairview and lower Fairview are the middle-density mansions originally owned by managers and executives of the Pennsylvania Railroad. The most striking example of this is the Penn Alto residential hotel on the corner of 13th Avenue and 12th Street, which has two single-unit houses next to it. Conversely, there are a few multistory residential and commercial buildings on 17th Avenue. Fairview could be best described as the urban neighborhoods that one would expect to find just outside of a downtown. One of the sections of the downtown is called "Lower Fairview" due to its transitionary nature. Or perhaps it can be said that lower Fairview is an extension of downtoen, up to 16th or even 17th avenue. The houses between 14th and 15th avenues (with two commercial buildings included) on 12th street are designed based on an architectural pattern used in Philadelphia's urban neighborhoods.
Altoona has many, various types of parks for a variety of public uses within the city limits. They range from simple green areas with perhaps some benches and a few swings to full athletic fields for the public use and enjoyment.
- Booker T Washington - on 13th Ave and 19th St: Fitness Park, Basketball Court and playground
- Fairview Park - on the corner of 2nd St and 25th Ave
- Focus Park - 23rd Avenue and 9th Street
- Garden Heights - Tennyson Avenue & Lowell Avenue
- Garfield Park - 25th Street and 11th Avenue
- Geesey Park - in between Grant and Bell Avenues along 3rd St
- Gospel Hill Park - on the hill above the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament
- Greenwood Park - Chief Logan Way
- Hamilton Park - East Cherry Avenue and Kettle Street
- Highland Park - along 4th Ave in between 44th and 49th Streets
- Iuzzolino Park - Maple Avenue and 26th Street
- Jefferson Park - 4th Avenue and 2nd Street
- John Roberston Walking Park - 7th St and 7th Ave on both sides of bridge
- Juniata Memorial Park - 12th Avenue and Park Blvd
- Lakemont Park - between Logan Blvd and Frankstown Road, amusement park with the World famous Leap the Dips
- Leopold Park - off of Kittanning Point Road/ 40th Street
- Locust Hills Park - West Chestnut Avenue and Greenway Drive
- Mansion Park - along Logan Blvd and 5th Ave
- Newburg Park - Washington Avenue and 28th Ave
- Orchard Park - Beech Avenue and 2nd Street
- Prospect Park - in between 13th and 15th Streets along 1st Ave
- Tuckahoe Park - along Union Ave near 29th Street
- Veteran's Field - Maple Avenue and 24th Street
- Westfall Park - 23rd Street and 17th Avenue