Swisshelm Park is a border neighborhood in Pittsburgh. The naive pedestrian or driver could go down a road such as Nevada St or Whipple St and never know they had passed the boundary between Swissvale and Pittsburgh. There IS one tell-tale sign: the line in the street showing where one municipality’s road maintenance ends and the other one begins. If you tried to walk that line, you’d find yourself in the middle of backyards, front yards, sheds, kitchens, bedrooms and bathrooms! Don’t walk that line.
So, on a hot Fourth of July I decided to run all the streets of Swisshelm Park in one blow. My rough calculation was that it would be about ten miles, and I was close. At any rate, I started by climbing Commercial Street, from beneath the Parkway East Bridge, where Frick Park spills toward Duck Hollow.
Once on the hilltop, the streets were pretty much level. The houses are modest two and three bedroom affairs; a few ranches, a few split levels, some larger houses. Most of the yards were a decent size with grassy lawns and maybe a tree or two. Home mechanics worked on their cars out of small garages lining the alleys. I could see tomato plants and zucchini bushes in gardens and the occasional backyard pool. Diligent homeowners were hosing down their sidewalks and watering their gardens.
Now, this is a convenient place. You can get downtown quickly as long as Commercial Street isn’t closed and you can get out to the eastern suburbs quickly as well. While too far to carry groceries, there are convenient stores along South Braddock Ave. You can attend Pittsburgh city schools, getting school bus transportation. Of all the streets I ran on, I don’t remember seeing any derelict houses, even at the end of the long dead-ends. In fact, some of the bigger yards and nicer houses were at the end of the dead-ends. With all these amenities, you’d expect a high-priced area, but its NOT.
My conclusion: These residents are living the American Dream. Life is never perfect, but this is a great neighborhood.
But, be forewarned, things may change. The owners of the land surrounding Duck Hollow, the same folks who built Summerset, have their eyes on developing housing along the woods and trails along Nine Mile Run. That would undoubtedly change the character of this neighborhood.
Also, I didn’t realize that Duck Hollow is considered to be part of Swisshelm Park. I thought that was its own neighborhood. Thus, I have a few more streets to run before REALLY completing Swisshelm Park.