South Dallas End to End

South Point BreezeNorth Point Breeze

From one goofy intersection to another, that’s South Dallas/North Dallas Avenue. The southern end of South Dallas Avenue springs from Beechwood Boulevard, going a mere 100 feet before it hits a red light (mostly) at the intersection of Forbes Avenue. Quiet as a cemetery, this is an attractive neighborhood with impressive, large houses in the $660,000+ price range. From a runner’s perspective, it is also roughly the start of the Great Race, a popular 10K in September. Tall oaks spread their branches and rain down acorns on the houses. Driveways curve up behind the houses.

Running here was a bit hilly, and South Dallas goes up briefly again as it runs past cemeteries and forms a boundary between Point Breeze and Squirrel Hill. You pass between Homewood Cemetery on the right and Smithfield East End Cemetery on the left. Just now looking up Smithfield Cemetery, I am duly impressed with its heritage.

“It began as a church grave yard to the oldest organized church in the City of Pittsburgh—the first German Evangelical Protestant Church—which was founded in Pittsburgh in 1782 ”

Once you get past the cemeteries, South Dallas becomes nicely straight and slightly downhill. A breeze to run! Continuing on South Dallas Avenue, you’ll notice the houses perhaps getting marginally smaller, but the neighborhood is still pricey, and you’d pay at least $250k for houses all the way to Penn Avenue. The area is still aesthetically pleasing with rather large yards and mature trees.

Continuing past Penn Avenue, South Dallas becomes North Dallas. The houses are still impressive, but the area is not as well maintained. A couple of blocks past Penn Avenue, North Dallas takes a plunge, dropping 100′ in a few blocks. The neighborhood takes a similar plunge as North Dallas passes under railroad tracks and eventually peters out at the weird intersection where Bennett Street peels off from Frankstown Road. Houses in this neck of the woods are much smaller and go for around $50k.

So, I’ve done Dallas, South and North, and wind my way back through Homewood. This area has a bad reputation in my mind and I am pretty cautious. A week after running this route, a rather spectacular crime was committed in suburban Monroeville area and the perpetrators used Homewood as staging area. Vigilant police ended up breaking into a home of an 80 year-old grandmother in their search for a victim. That is still in the courts, I believe.

So, there’s reason to be cautious, but looking around, while I do see run-down row houses, I also see typical three-story Pittsburgh brick foursquare houses neatly maintained with a decent yards. What would those folks in Southside Slopes give for a flat driveway? Not much, I suppose. Alleys straight as an arrow, disappear into the distance. Again, it’s amazing what a mile will do. My trek back to the start was just a long climb out of the valley. Long gradual hills that my warped Pittsburgh vision calls “flat”.

Strava Run All The Streets 0026

Lost in your Hazel Highs

Hazelwood InfoGlen Hazel Info

Ah, Hazel, that bewitching color between brown and green, subtly shifting with the light. There was lots to think about on this run. I started running through South Squirrel Hill and into the Summerset subdivision. It’s relatively new and was built on the mountains of slag dumped there during between 1922 and 1972. (NYT article: Houses Are to Replace A Pittsburgh Slag Heap) . That development spurred some other interesting things, including the Nine Mile Run Organization which has done a lot of work to clean and take care of the Nine Mile Run watershed. This has directly impacted Frick Park, with improved natural areas and the removal of some old playgrounds. For those not familiar with local usage, a “Run” is a creek. Many have “mile” designations which approximate how far upriver (from the confluence of the Monongahela and Allegheny) the creek empties into the river. Thus Nine Mile Run empties into the Mon approximately nine miles from the Point.

Running out of Summerset, I carefully crossed Browns Hill Road and made my way up Imogene Road. Taking a quick detour down Desdemona Avenue, I skipped the stairs which would have taken me back to Browns Hill Road and went up Johnston Avenue. Summerset was a dense subdivision. Desdemona was lined with modest houses. Johnston Avenue was deserted. A long trek up a big hill with not much around. A high slope to the right and a sharp drop to the left. But after the crest was one of the Kane Centers, Kane Center, Glen Hazel. After that, just a number of small cul-de-sac’s with modest homes which look like they were built with great expectations but have been neglected a little. With just this one run, I ran most of the street mileage in Glen Hazel.

Happy to be out of that somewhat eerie area, I descended to Second Avenue and made the brave decision to climb Hazelwood Avenue. Late in most of my runs, I stop worrying about streets to see and start worrying about how to get back to my car. It was the same here, I knew Hazelwood Avenue would eventually take me back to a familiar area. One mile and nearly 400 feet of elevation later, I was back on Browns Hill Road. Whew!

Running through the area, and looking at the map afterwards, I was thinking about why some areas are expensive, why some are cheap. I reflected on the location of the Kane Center in a hidden, deserted part of Pittsburgh. I thought about how big the Calvary Cemetery is and how much space in Hazelwood is “greenway”, while right down the road, houses are pressed together. No answers here, but invitations to think about how the city has evolved.

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Map of the South Oakland Neighborhood of Pittsburgh
South Oakland, Pittsburgh

If yesterday’s run was LSD, this was speed. The sidewalks were finally dry of snow and ice. It was warmer. I had a plan and only a limited time to do it. Zoom! Zoom!

I sped down Beacon Street’s wide windings, only momentarily detouring into little drive to apartments, as shown with a little red hook on the map. Beacon arcs onto Hobart, just inside Schenley Park. I caught the lights and blitzed down Panther Hollow Road as it schimmied and twisted through the park. In the summer, Vintage Grand Prix speedsters tear up the track. In the winter, only runners do. I hit the bridge over Panther Hollow, pushing hard on the accelerator. It felt good.

Now into South Oakland, I made the hard right onto Parkview Avenue; shoes squealing just a little. My plan was to hit a little alley; Collinson Place and take the next street, Edgehill. Well, they were both small alleys. Edgehill was really a driveway along the back of the houses on Parkview. The occasional barking dog and sounds of toenails scraping the high fence only made me put the gas on more. I blew down Edgehill Street, rocketing over Swineburne all the way to Childs Street. Childs is no-outlet, ending in a cliff above Swineburne. I reversed gears, backtracking till I could take the next turn onto Orpwood, a car mecca. One lean scruffy dude in jeans checking the engine on his 1972 Chryler New Yorker with the hood up. A portly middle aged man waxing his 1988 red Ford F-150. An official Ferrari repair shop with a Maserati parked in the back.

It all made sense now. I don’t think it would have been proper to come here slowly. At the end of the road, in the setting sun, I put it in park for a moment, taking in the views. Then, I slowly backed out and cruised home.

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Picturesque Frozen Wanderings

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It was cold, even on a sunny Saturday afternoon. Starting in Squirrel Hill, as I often do, I ran toward Schenley Park. It’s a beautiful, heavily wooded park with winding roads, hills, playgrounds, a golf-course and a lake.

After a couple of miles, I emerged into Central Oakland. This part of Oakland is dominated by student housing of all sorts. There are upscale condo/townhouses and street after street of apartment buildings and houses re-muddled into apartments. The area is pretty flat and the streets are relatively long, straight and in a grid. The area was busy with students. I remembered that as a student, I was always worried about money, classes, jobs, homework, girls and family (not necessarily in that order). As a father with college age children, I want to say to them “Don’t worry too much, do your best and you’ll be fine”. However, I do know that their lives are opaque to me, I don’t know their struggles and that they will have to find their own way. So, I just run past, nodding a silent greeting. Who knows if they gave any thought to the old guy lumbering past them?

Typical Residential Oakland Street

And lumber past I did, cutting down Neville Street as it plunged into Panther Hollow. I ran under Schenley Drive and Forbes, eventually emerging in North Oakland, with its large institutional buildings, museums, churches. I found my way back along Ellsworth Avenue in Shadyside before turning up Negley Avenue back home.

Central Oakland neighborhood of Pittsburgh

January Catch Up

Hey there, we’re half-way through February, Valentine’s Day is over and the weather is flirting with Spring. So, it’s about time to show you the other runs I did in January. All of my posts to this point have been directly related to ONE run. Sometimes long, sometimes short. This will be different. I’ll show you the Strava maps I’ve taken for a number of runs, with just a short sentence or two about each one. I have made pretty good progress in January, with nearly 110 miles and over 7,300 feet of elevation gain. I’m still working on listing which streets I’ve run, which is quite the endeavor in and of itself. February is feverishly waiting in the wings.

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Clearly a Steel City Road Runners run. Look at those downtown loops!

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Pre-Pro Bike run. Getting some elevation and doing ALL of Douglas Street! Yay!

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The Pro-Bike & Run route going through Point Breeze, Squirrel Hill, and Shadyside.

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The Pierogi run! Seventeen miles with Pro-Bike and Run with a CF fundraiser at the end. That was an awesome run and a great time afterwards. I might touch on this one again, as we did some interesting places, such as the Armstrong Tunnel.

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Looks like another Pro-Bike & Run group run. I must have been running with somebody to keep a nice route like that!

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This run was clearly on my own – look at all those little dead-ends! This marks the last run of January for me. As I recall, there were a couple more days in January, but they were very cold ( no warmer than 10 degrees), so I was prudent and didn’t run outside. This effort to run different streets sometimes means I just run one street away from a “normal” route, or that I take that little red-brick alley off to the side.

Now, on, on, to February and the next 100 miles in this journey!

Running Before the Storm

“Running Before The Storm” artwork at
Spring Hill City View Neighborhood of Pittsburgh

It was early. It was raining. It was forty degrees. This would be the best weather we would have for a week. I HAD to get out there and run! My office was close by and if I got done early enough, I was hoping I could sneak in and change into my office clothes without too many people noticing.

“Running before the storm” is ingrained in my mind as a wild time before a major storm comes bearing down on you. Perhaps it is from all those nautical adventures I read as a kid. But that expectation of something calamitous coming crackles with energy. Starting near my building on the Northshore, I knew I wanted to ascend into the labyrinthine Spring Garden hills to get some elevation. I wasn’t EXACTLY sure the best way to do it, so I zipped up into the Northside grid, with its flat streets and alleys in a regular pattern. My goal was to hit Tripoli Street which crosses I-279. The rain was beginning to come down hard. I passed one woman with a purple raincoat and umbrella walking her reluctant chocolate lab and a couple of dudes with baggy jeans and flannel shirts waiting for the bus.
Tripoli Street is flat and took me high over I-279, already filling with headlights coming into Pittsburgh. I made a left onto Chestnut Street and started up the hill. OMG! What a hill!

The blue dot is on Tripoli as it finishes crossing I-279. That sharp left is Chestnut. The mountain of elevation is going toward High Street.

I continued up and up, my theme. It was pouring at this point and mini Mononagahelas ran down every street. I made sure the dead-end sign on Leister Street was correct, backtracked and ran up Hunnel. The neighborhood is varied with some nice houses, decent yards, and vertigo inducing hills. Below is a picture of Hunnel Street in more pleasant weather.

Wooden stairs on the side of Hunnell Street with green trees and white houses on the very steep street.
Hunnell Street Wooden Stairs in the Spring

Up and up I ran. Woessner Street was cute. It did NOT have a dead-end sign on it and I felt like a roller coaster approaching the big drop. (That’s the middle peak on the elevation chart.) It ended in a circular asphalt pad at the top. No actual street intersected it, just narrow Wessel Way alley. Down the alley I went, saying “Hi!” to another hardy soul walking her dog in the rain. I began to plot my way back; Rhine Street, Mathias Street, Lappe Lane (below the cemetery), Buente Street, Overbeck Street and finally down Solar to catch a way across 279. I crossed it on Guerst Way, which is a pedestrian bridge. Back in familiar territory again, I resisted the urge to run up Rising Main and got to my office early enough to change. I basked in the warmth of the office and the run as the rain changed to snow and the storm blew in.

Run All The Streets 0017: (that’s right, 17)


If you regularly follow this blog, you may have noticed that I skipped a few runs. I went from “Run All The Streets 0014” to “Run All The Streets 0017”. Don’t worry, I will be sharing those runs and the remainder of my January 2019 runs in summary blog post. While there’s usually something notable on every run, I run more than I blog, so instead of letting them pile up for posterity, I’ll just do a catch up blog every now and then. Thanks for reading.

Skinny Southside Sarah

Map Highlighting the Southside Flats Neighborhood of Pittsburgh
Southside Flats Neighborhood of Pittsburgh

One of the cute things about the Southside Flats are the street names. They are not the aboreal type. They are not formal last names like “Wilkins”, or “Forbes”, but friendly first names; “Mary”, “Jane”, “Sarah”. I think this fits the Southside Flats in character. If they were people, all of these sister streets would be wearing skinny jeans with fashionable rips in them. As it is, they are narrow, relatively straight and have copious “fashionable” potholes. So on a rather chilly January, I felt compelled to run around Sarah Street, all the way to the end.

Much of the Southside Flats is a mixture of narrow houses, newer condos, warehouses, corner bars and a coffee shop or two. This is the area between Carson Street and the rising mountain of the Southside Slopes. Sarah Street threads her way though these streets, making a little jog right when she hits 10th Street and finally ending at the 9th Street side of George K. Cupples Stadium, which is an 8,000 seat football field used mainly for high-school games. At any rate, Sarah comes to a screeching halt there. Not having enough of a snowy, dark, run, I decided to cross over Carson Street and continue.

Thus, I ended up on Cabot way. Cabot Way was narrower and long. This section of the Southside flats looks less friendly. The warehouses look bigger. Carson Street on the right seems to get higher and higher. The dark river is closer.

Lights of downtown Pittsburgh on a foggy night as seen from the Terminal Building across the Monongahela River.
Light of downtown Pittsburgh from the Terminal Building on the Southside

But the potential creepiness is tempered by the lights of downtown across the river and the general emptiness of the area. I saw nothing too scary, beyond a young guy coming out of his apartment clearly drunk. Quiet, beyond the padding of my feet and the occasional car. Cabot Way continues all the way to the parking lots at Station Square where I passed a young couple strolling home. Turning around, I went up and down a few of the steep, cobblestone streets which go up to Carson Street. Then, I ran on Terminal Street, which has the feature that it becomes an elevated walkway between buildings. It has an interesting history.

Snowy railroad buildings at night.
Snowy Railroad Tracks

I made my way toward Sarah Street, along Bingham Street, Wright’s Way, and Carey Way. When I finally met up with Sarah again, I was tired and getting cold. So, I got in my car, revved up the heat and went home. See ya later, Sarah!

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Slushy Snow on a Sunny Sunday

Map highlighting the Greenfield neighborhood of Pittsburgh.
Greenfield Neighborhood Pittsburgh

Map of the Squirrel Hill South neighborhood of Squirrel Hill South.
Squirrel Hill South

On this chilly, snowy, slushy, sunny Sunday I went back to Greenfield. In my earlier blog post, Greenfield: Land of Hills, I recounted my run along the southern border of Greenfield. Today’s run started in the middle of Squirrel Hill South and continued along the northern border of Greenfield. So, what’s the difference?

The biggest difference was elevation. I ran mostly on Beechwood Boulevard. Beechwood winds for five miles from Greenfield Avenue to Fifth Avenue, mainly following the contours of hills instead of going directly up and down them. This run had half the elevation gain per mile of the earlier run. (72′ of elevation gain per mile in contrast to 147′ of elevation gain per mile). BIG difference. Another difference was the tenor of the street. The earlier run was in a compact residential neighborhood with little traffic. This run carried me from wide-open residential areas with bigger houses to streets busy with traffic going to the Waterfront or to the Parkway East. Finally, weather was also making an impact. It was on the colder side and there was a couple of inches of snow on the ground. This made for slick footing. Thankfully the sun was out!

Run All The Streets 0012: Slushy Snow and Sun

There Must be a way Outta Here!

Terrace Village section of the Hill District Neighborhood

Theme music.
This was definitely a “run all the streets” run. I had intended to meet up with Steel City Road runners, but found myself in the wrong place at almost the right time. I also found myself in North Oakland, an area dominated by the sprawling University of Pittsburgh . Medical buildings, athletic facilities, dorms, frat houses are juxtaposed with older homes clinging to the hillsides and run down apartment buildings with gravel lots for back yards. This run was relatively long and eventually meandered to parts of Bloomfield and Shadyside, but I’m going to concentrate on one area, Terrace Village.

I got to Terrace Village as a side trip. I was running along Fifth Avenue when I decided to run up Carlow‘s main driveway, Dunseith Street. Where did someone find THAT name? Apparently it’s a small town in North Dakota, among other things. Anyway, Dunseith Street travels through the heart of Carlow’s small campus. I ran up it to Allequippa Street, then to Robinson Street. On a whim, I went down Wadsworth. At this point, Wadsworth looked like a short driveway into some new construction. I figured after 100 yards, the road would end and I would get back to Robinson. Wow, was I wrong! Wadsworth opened up into an area of modern, new construction. It was unclear whether it was condos, or graduate student housing or what. A planned community, at any rate. There was a rental office, a little playground, a health center. The houses were attached, but generally large, two or three stories with new double-paned windows and fresh siding. The sidewalks were even, unbroken and every street corner had shiny street signs. And it was large. Lots of streets to run on with many cross streets. I’ve been in Pittsburgh a long time and had never been in this area. I was also surprised at how many streets were back there…Wadsworth, Eckstein, Oak Hill Drive, Burrows Street. All these streets looked just about the same. Had I gone through a portal to the suburbs?

Then I took a right onto Bentley Drive. I had the expectation that I would go down the hill, hit a cross street and come back up to the Oak Hill Apartments. Hmm, not so fast! I went to Kirkpatrick Street, rather desolate at this point in its travels from the Birmingham Bridge to the Middle Hill. I came to Kennard Playground, a large grassy field surrounded by a fence. Oak Hill was above, and that’s where I wanted to be. But how to get there? I followed the fence around to its end, hoping at any point for the fence to end. Eventually it did, coming tight against the hillside. No “official” way to go on. But, I wasn’t the first one with this idea, and, sure enough, squeaking past the last fence post, I found a faint footpath leading up the hill. I popped out in the backyard of one of the beige and brick end units and trotted to the sidewalk, continuing my run. And so I wandered around and around Oak Hill; Bentley Drive, Jamal Place, Benson Place, Turner Place, Burrows Street. One more turn on Burrows, and poof! I was out of the suburban portal and back into Oakland. I ran on a few hilly alleys, Dunbar Way, Decre and made my way further into Shadyside.

And now, some backstory. Years ago (1 Billion, to be exact), I was preparing to move to Pittsburgh and a friend of mine from Pittsburgh described the area past Pitt as a truly dangerous ghetto. After being at Pitt for several years, that section of Oakland was off the periphery of my personal map. Following my run this morning, I spoke with a few people about that neighborhood. It turns out that Terrace Village, when I came here, was indeed, a dangerous place to be. Here is some of its unofficial history. During my run, Oak Hill seemed to go on forever, however nice it is now. I felt hard pressed to get out of that neighborhood and I would bet that many residents felt the same way before it became rejuvenated.

Run All The Streets 0011: Terrace Village, Oakland