Homewood Murals, Alleys and Memorials

Yin and Yang Across Face of Child on Mural
RATS 00252 – Homewood

On this morning’s run, I decided to tackle more of Homewood South and North. I do have a feel for the neighborhood, but am still intimidated by parts of it, especially the long, narrow alleys. Making it to Formosa Way, this brilliant mural jumped out. I’m not sure who did this wonderfully colorful artwork, but kudos to them. The day was sunny and warm, with a promise to get hot later.

Trundling down Formosa Way, I saw a couple of older black men chatting across a fence. One was with his large German Shepherd, who lunged at me when I passed. It was on a leash, so no harm done. However, the man said “You know, there ARE main roads”. To which I gave the “I’m running all the streets” response. But then he said, “Well, be careful, its dangerous.” I thought about that as I ran.

I came across several memorials, such as the one below. These weren’t marked with the details, but were probably where someone had died. How? Who knows? Gunshot? Car Accident? It’s hard to say. I saw at least three other memorials, mostly smaller. I suppose it is dangerous here.

Memorial Fence

Homewood South is basically flat with long alleys and streets running parallel to Hamilton Avenue. There are plans in the works for a much needed rejuvenation of Homewood. Reading that plan, I was astounded at the level of poverty here. The median household income is less than $20,000 a year. Imagine trying to live on $20,000 a year in Pittsburgh! The median income in Pittsburgh is close to $40,000/yr.

Murals adorn many buildings and several houses have Randyland-style artwork on their exterior.

There’s also a fair share of run-of-the mill graffiti.

Eventually, I made it to Upland Street, and crossed briefly into North Homewood. I meandered among some of the streets up there before taking the Monticello Street Stairs back to Brushton Avenue.

Top, Middle and Bottom of Monticello Street Steps

As the run grew long and my hot, tired legs didn’t want to move, I was encouraged by several residents. One woman, as she was loading a dark blue van, shouted “Go get that hill!”

A grizzled man, lazily driving his caddie across the intersection of Collier and Kelly said “Trying to make up for them cancelling the Marathon?”

And yet another man, this one man working on a dusty van looked up and asked “How many miles?”

Very often, I don’t have any interaction on my runs, so this was welcome.

I must say, when I first approached Collier and Frankstown, I avoided it because a half dozen dudes were hanging out on their Harleys. However, when I came back, the only thing left was their banner.

And that was it. A solid run in a ‘dangerous’ neighborhood which has a plan in place for improvement.

For further thought:

Now, thinking about it, how ‘dangerous’ a place actually is, is often a reflection of your own activity there. If you’re in a neighborhood for the house parties and ‘nightlife’, this could be pretty dangerous. If you’re here to buy drugs, yes, dangerous. If you’re living here and your neighbor is a dealer, that could be a problem. However, driving through at a reasonable time, running on a Saturday morning, walking your dog, it isn’t too bad.

Just for comparison, from 2018 to 2020, Homewood South and Homewood North each had less overall crime than Southside Flats or Downtown. Admittedly, they are smaller areas. They also had fewer cases of property crime than Shadyside or Squirrel Hill. The high level of poverty in the area undoubtedly influences how well kept it is and what kind of stores and restaurants there are. It is no surprise then, that there are almost none.

One thought on “Homewood Murals, Alleys and Memorials”

  1. Thanks for this. I always found Homewood to be one of the most fun neighborhoods to run though for the marathon. There are definitely wonderful strong community people in Homewood trying their best to keep their neighborhood alive. You see them at the Homewood Y, working the door at Westinghouse basketball games, at my gym, etc..

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