|South Point Breeze||North 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”.