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Altoona is an old railroading town in Central Pa. The economy is difficult and people are obviously struggling there. There are lots of new shopping opportunities, not many opportunities for people to make a living however. People in the older neighborhoods are very kind and always willing to help one another out. In the wealthier sections, people don't even know their neighbor's names. PSU is a bright spot here and is about the only source of culture to be found. There are few parks or places for children, even fewer healthy places for teens. There used to be pool halls, a skateboard park, and more play parks. Things to see are the horseshoe curve, and Wopsy lookout. The malls are completely commercial and you will have to attend the farmer's market of look downtown if you want to find anything original or to support small business. This is a good place to visit if you need to do some mall shopping or to spend your first 4 years of college, then a nice place to leave.
Altoona is just okay. Not great, but not horrible either. It has its pros and cons just like any other city. The downtown is starting to come alive again thanks to Penn State's revitalization efforts. Their are some fun things to do, but you really have to do some digging to find them. However, the area itself is boring and is deprived of any culture or nightlife. Their is very little diversity as the areas population is predominately white and over the age of 50. Young people that grew up here end up leaving after high school, as good paying jobs are hard to find unless your in the medical field. Which the hospital is the city's largest employer by the way. People can be friendly, but not really genuine. The people of Altoona have a very closed minded attitude and are very resistant to change. They long too much for the "good old days" and wish it were the 40's & 50's again. Altoona is a good place to go if your ready to retire, however if your young, I would look elsewhere.
From my experience living in Altoona, it's a good town, but there isn't many job opportunities. There'st mostly retail and restaurant jobs, and a few factory jobs. I want to further my education so I can possibly relocate to an area with better job opportunities. I'd like to see more diversity as far as jobs in Altoona and I would like to see less restaurants and doctors offices being built but would like to see more factory jobs. Altoona's downtown area isn't as lively as it has been in the past but in recent years, they have had more public events and fairs so I guess it isn't too bad.