Last Sunday, I planned to cover some of the long North-South streets in Beltzhoover, then trot over to Knoxville to catch a couple of long streets there. If I had any juice left, I thought I might venture into Bon Air as well.
It was still mid-morning when I parked along McKinley Park and was expecting silence, or at least a rather quiet morning. Maybe a few people cutting grass, some birds singing, but generally silent.
Boy was I wrong! I stepped out of the car and found myself assailed by loud sounds from every direction. It sounded like a gospel church and a hip-hop studio were competing with each other to be the Broadcaster of Beltzhoover! My first turns took me right past the hip-hop broadcasts, replete with ferociously barking dogs.
I must say, that little section at the end of Estella Street wasn’t my favorite. The blaring noise, the narrow streets and nearly impassable alleys spooked me. Unfortunately, Beltzhoover seems to have the most overgrown, long and hilly alleys in Pittsburgh. Several of them looked like they need to be mowed more than paved. Of course, those cute brick streets sometimes could use a little mowing, too.
This corner of Beltzhoover is rather isolated. There’s a T-stop not far away, but the roads don’t go anywhere. For instance, off of Taft, a small street falls down the hill and turns onto “Buffington Avenue”. “Avenue”, well that sounds grand! Eh, not so much. After only a couple of distressed houses, the road is gated off as it dives into McKinley Park.
I must say, not everything is like this. Out of the hollow, the houses are rather large, typical Pittsburgh four-square houses. Upkeep is uneven, with some being meticulously maintained and others succumbing to nature. On the far side, as streets careen off the hill towards Warrington Avenue, there are a fair number of steps. Several of these lead down to the trolley and buses on Warrington Avenue. However, the steps are in sad shape. Not structurally, but they’re just overgrown to the point of uselessness.
Sometime, someone has put effort here. In addition to the community perennial garden, which I described earlier in “Hot Damn, It’s Hot in Beltzhoover”, there are signs directing pedestrians to steps for the T. Given the thorny nature of the path, I don’t think many people are going that way.
Finally, I made my transition to Knoxville, where to cover Georgia Avenue and Grimes Avenue. Those two parallel streets start high on a hill and go straight down to Bausman Street, and beyond. Here’s where things got a bit more interesting. At the bottom of Georgia, I turned right onto Rachelle, a dead-end, to avoid people. (Yes, I do that. ) Rochelle is narrow and tightly packed with houses and cars. Approaching the end, I hoped there would be some pedestrian outlet, but, at first only saw a wall. Then, at the last moment, I noticed a few steps down into the woods below. Taking the steps, I shortly found myself in a homemade BMX track, sized just right for a kid’s first bike.
My consternation turned to elation at this little adventure. I came back around and took a short flights of steps taking to Zara Street. Along the way, I came across my second set of penguins for the day.
And now, the only thing I needed to do was to find the top of Grimes Avenue. At the end of Ibis Way, I came to the beginning of Cedarhurst Street. As many good streets do, it started as stairs. Cedarhurst is more of an alley, but leads across the top of a ridge, where you can even see some buildings on Mount Washington.
Finally making it to Grimes Avenue, I took it past Bausman and muddled around on Mathews Street. I know some folks are more religious than others, but these the residents take it to a new level; four large statues of the Virgin Mary! Okay, maybe it’s just one large statue and a nativity set.
So that was about it. I didn’t have enough juice to venture into Bon Air. Next time, maybe.
However, on my way home, I stopped by Schenley Park on the off chance I might catch Elijah in his “I Still Run with Ahmaud Abery (Day 100)”. Luckily I made it in time to catch him and some folks going out for a lap. I, too, did a lap. Elijah has put together a lot of good information about racism. Let me know if you’d like his write-up.