Is McKees Rocks part of the West Side? Part II: ‘‘The West Side is the Best Side’
—DID YOU KNOW?—
By Tara Yilmaz
Let me say it louder for the cheap seats in the back "The West Side is the Best Side." Read about opinions on why living west of the Ohio River is the best place to live in the City of Pittsburgh.
Did you know there are tons of songs that have West in the title? Whether the artist is from England to California, genres from rock to hip-hop, you can listen to different aspects of what life is like in the West of wherever. In 1988, New York Rapper Kool Moe Dee released a chart-topping song called “Wild, Wild, West.”
The song was a reimagining of living in a rowdy western town. Pop-duo performers, Pet Shop Boys, from England, wrote a club hit called “West End Girls” in 1984. The duo sang about the glamorous London club scene in the West End. Other songs that feature “West” in the title can be heard throughout the years. “Go West” by the Village People, “I Rep that West” by Ice Cube, “West Side” by Game, “Going Back West” by Jimmy Cliff, and many more. It appears living in the West is the ideal place to live in any city, state, or country.
Did you know the West Side is home to local legends and places? Not meaning folklores or fairytales, the urban definition means a place or someone who is well known.
• Steve Wray, owner of Steve Wray’s Barbershop in Stowe Township, has been cutting hair for decades and is known citywide for his crisp cuts and famous clientele.
• Former rap group extraordinaire “The Dot & The Dub” captivated 80s babies in the “99 and 2000s,” and would often make appearances at “The Hub Pub,” now known as Craig’s Bar on Chartiers Avenue in Sheraden.
• Becker’s Café in McKees Rocks is known for its reasonably priced drinks. • The Ugly Dog Saloon on Noblestown Road in Westwood is known for its incredible fresh cut french fries and chicken wings have all added to the allure of living west of the Ohio River.
Did you know the West Side is home to the upcoming Actor/Writer Jermaine Manual? In 2021, Manual wrote a coming-of-age movie “Get Lost,” about two friends who parted ways after a tumultuous argument. Filmed in Pittsburgh and Brooklyn, Manual made it a priority to represent his hometown. You can watch “Get Lost” on the streaming platform tubitv.com.
Did you know residents west of Pittsburgh refer to themselves as "West Siders?" When you hear the phrase "West Side or West Sider," some people associate it with a pop culture reference from the hit song "California Love" by the late rapper/ activist Tupac Shakur.
"Let's show these fools how we do this on that west side. Cause you know I know it's the best side." But when Pittsburghers hear “West Side,” they think of neighborhoods of West End Village, Sheraden, Elliott, Chartiers, and other communities in the West End Valley. Within the communities west of the Ohio River, there has been a longstanding unanswered debate. Is McKees Rocks part of the West Side? Tyree James of Sheraden says, “West Side Allegheny County, yes. West Side of Pittsburgh, no. If your street signs are green, you’re not Pittsburgh.” Born and raised West Sider Milk West made many statements clarifying the distinction between West Side and McKees Rocks. “McKees Rocks is not the West Side. It was never the West Side. There is a line. If you are from the West Side and grew up on the West Side once you go across the Windgap Bridge, you’re in McKees Rocks. Once you go across Esplen Bridge, past Sunoco. McKees Rocks.”
While a growing number of residents empathize with West, there are some who have a contrasting view. D’Andre English says McKees Rocks “is the West Side, just not the city.”
Even though there are conflicting opinions about if McKees Rocks is part of the West Side. There is one thing both parties seem to agree on. Living on the west of the Ohio River is the best place to be. Until there is a formal vote on the debate, the only way to answer the questions is by answering it for yourself. When asked, “What side of town do you live on?” Do you answer, “I’m from McKees Rocks” or “I’m from the West Side?”