January 2021 was a good month for running, by and large. I got seventeen runs in covering new streets. The weather wasn’t too bad and I explored Ridgemont, nearly completed Westwood, as well as continued to make progress around the city, exploring its nooks and crannies. The only setback was a fall one evening resulting in a few scrapes and bruises, but more tragically, a crushed phone. It took me a few days to get back on track after that. Unfortunately, the pics from that run remain on the old phone, with its ruined screen.
RATS #00354 – Point Breeze
A short evening run with a surprising number of steps, RATS #00354 was a night run on the edge of Point Breeze and Squirrel Hill. Solidly dark, the pics are not great. Thank goodness for a strong flashlight.
As I did crop-circles among the cul-de-sacs in Point Breeze, my flashlight illuminated several little libraries.
And that was it, 4.35 miles done.
RATS #00357 – Downtown and the Hill
This was a pretty long Sunday run. I explored a few downtown alleys and then climbed into the Middle Hill. I was chipping away at the portions of the Hill I had not yet done and covered covered eight good miles when it was all said and done.
Trekking up to through the Hill Distrist is old hat now. Lower Hill has seen a good bit of renovations and is dense with townhomes. If you’ve read along, you’ll know that I’m pretty much done with the Upper Hill. That area has some sketchy parts, but also has a number of renovated houses and the pressure of Pitt pushing down onto it. The Middle Hill, in my estimation, is the worst of the three sections, but still with bright spots. It’s cliff high above the Allegheny is dotted with housing projects. Bedford Square is in much better condition than I expected. At the edge of the cliff are several viewing areas with benches. From one such overlook on Memory Lane, you can see out over the Strip District and down the Allegheny River.
The next cul-de-sac of housing, Somers Drive, is rather utilitarian. At the far end, steps flow up to housing at the end of Chauncy Drive. The UPMC building downtown rose ghost like from the trees.
Now in the middle of the Middle Hill, vacant lots and boarded up buildings dominate the scene. I did run through a rather nice area off of Bently. The street has a nice curve in it, so folks wishing to do a Strava heart art route often run it. Downtown buildings are usually visible, not so far away.
Shortly after Bently Drive, I made my way back downtown. A few more things caught my eye, like this mural and the restaurant which bills itself as Pittsburgh’s Chinatown.
Finally back to Cherry Way, I had to take a pic of the 100+ year old Smithfield Street Bridge.
RATS #00359 – Splat!
Running down Bigelow Boulevard in the dark along a narrow sidewalk, I got some GREAT pictures of the downtown skylights. Unfortunately, they are locked in a cracked phone. For, as I turned away from the Sixth Street ramp, deeming it too dangerous, I tripped and fell flat on my face. My gloves and tights were torn while my hand and chin throbbed. However, there was nothing to be done but to keep moving. So, I did a slow jog and walk for the two miles back to my car. Damn that dry, empty sidewalk!!
RATS #00360 – Spring Hill and City View
After the run-in with the dry sidewalk, I took three days off. I must admit, I’m writing this a month later. It seemed like a cold day, and the Strava data claims it was 24 degrees with an 18 degree wind-chill. That sounds right. Nonetheless, before heading out, I verified that the streets would be wet and the route hilly. No flat, dry sidewalks to trip me up THIS day!
My target area was a squiggley section of Springhill, Cityview and Spring Garden off of East Street. A few months ago, I had come down a closed Gershon Street in the dusk and this was in the same area. It was going to be interesting to see it in daylight. My exploring friend, “Maggie Ess”, is walking all of Pittsburgh (see her blog here) and was in this exact neighborhood the day of my Splat event. I should have run here instead, perhaps? I have to say, between Maggie, Laura, Sherpes Hasher, Alyssa and me, we’ll have Pittsburgh thoroughly documented and vivisected in no time. Then, in ten years, someone will have to do it again to see what has changed.
Anyhoo, I parked over in a public lot near Allegheny City Brewery and trotted over I-279 on my favorite pedestrian walkway, Gerst Way. A short leg along East Street took me to Mt Royal Avenue where a large church building, St. Boniface, claims a swath of flat land. I had thought it semi-abandoned, but a little research shows that it is actually part of Christ Our Savior Parish. Besides the historic nature of the building, the current parish is interesting. Monthly, there’s a Mass in Vietnamese. I didn’t realize Pittsburgh had that large of a Vietnamese population. Many years ago, in a city far away, I visited the church of my baptism and got there early for 10 AM Mass. I patiently waited as the crowded church finished up the Rosary in a foreign language. I naively thought that, once Mass began, it would be in English. I was wrong. It was entirely in Vietnamese. But Mass is Mass and I could follow along.
But today, I wasn’t there for Mass. I was there to run streets and explore. Just past St. Boniface was a set of steps on the right. They were blocked off from the bottom, but not seriously. I ventured up them till the treads were largely missing.
Next on the explorers’ bingo card was Bly Street. This little dead-end shoots straight up the hill from Mt. Royal. It quickly ends in the hillside, and comes with those ever popular sidewalk steps.
Squiggling down at from the top of Mt. Royal is Luella Street. Below is a screen-shot of a map I found of Luella in Pitt’s archive. That’s a great resource.
The bottom of Luella intersects Gershon, which is sliding off the hill. Steps conveniently take you up into the neighborhood again.
An abandoned house sits at the end of Heim. It still has a chandelier-ceiling fan combo and skylights, but broken windows and shifting ground has doomed this one.
Further on, a step-alleyway bisects the little rectangular neighborhood.
Now that I’d climbed high on the street and steps, I was rewarded with wide-open spaces and sweeping views.
I spent a good bit of time wandering in and out these roads. Some became private roads before the end. Some took me up to a radio tower.
With this, I headed back to Allegheny City Brewery. In pre-Covid times, I would have stopped and had a beer, but not today.
RATS #00361 – Banksville
A short night run in the Banksville area. It is very suburban. Between that and the darkness, I didn’t have many pictures.
I started in Banksville Park and wound my way along the dark suburban streets. I had to pop out onto Greentree Road for a bit, where the ACE is located.
RATS #00364 – East Liberty & Homewood
Another Sunday morning run, this time in East Liberty. Passing East End Brewery was probably the most interesting thing that happened.
Much of the run was along streets dead-ending into the tracks along the East Busway.