Pittsburgh Developments

Here are two short July runs chipping away at the block of incomplete streets. The first was in Hazelwood Green. The second on the North Side.


RATS Run #00433 in Hazelwood Green

This run was just a couple of miles in a rapidly developing area. “Hazelwood Green” now sits where the Hazelwood Coke Works once stood. Where once molten steel was poured, cooled and pounded, is a broad field of flowers. The superstructure of Mill 19 still stands and is being re-purposed for advanced manufacturing.

With re-development, new streets are popping up. When I thought of this project, Hazelwood Green was just an idea on a whiteboard. Before long, Blair Street was opened and little else. Now Lytle Street and Beehive Street have emerged.

Lytle Street took me from one end of Mill 19 to the other. Bright yellow gantries still stand, even outside the finished offices, while the unfinished area stretches a tenth of a mile under rusty steel girders.

Beehive Street goes to the now-defunct part of Second Avenue. I would imagine that that will be re-opened soon, too. It’s too early to tell whether the Rutherglen Street Footbridge will ever be re-opened. It was closed off when I ran by. From this broad curve on the banks of the Monongahela, you can see downtown. However, smoke from western wildfires muted the skyline that day.

That was it, two-ish miles.


RATS Run #00434 in the Strip District and North Side

This was a “busted play”. I had arrived at a City of Bridges group run too late to join in. So, I basically did the same route, but veered off to finish off a couple of streets, primarily North Canal.

Old map showing North Canal Street

Speaking of North Canal, I was fortunate enough to see an old real-estate atlas of Pittsburgh. Sure enough, before the massive I-279, Route 28, Veteran’s Bridge interchange was constructed, North Canal went continuously along the north side of a railroad trestle. South Canal was on the Pittsburgh side of the tracks. Nowadays, North Canal is interrupted by the highways. One section comes off of East Street to the North Side Giant Eagle. Another, disjoint section, lives on as a driveway into the Sarah Heinz House parking lot.

On my way to North Canal Street, I crossed the 16th Street Bridge. As it rises out of the Strip District, you can see some of the condo’s being constructed there. Those brick condos are going from $525K. I wonder if they realized the ones across the street would block their view of the Allegheny.

I caught up with the advertised route after finding the elusive “6” along Lacock Street. From there it was around the point and back to Lawrenceville, where beer and friends awaited.

Wish you were here

RATS #00432, Lawrenceville, Polish Hill, Troy Hill

RATS run #00432 covered a lot of ground, from Bloomfield/ Lower Lawrenceville through Polish Hill, into Troy Hill and the edge of Reserve Township. I started around noon with a leisurely Type-B pace which contrasted with the rigorous Type-A route I was following.

Foster Way, an alley off of the alley Obregon Way, was my first stop. Then it was on to the downside end of Lodi Way. Turning onto Lodi Way, I felt eyes upon me and hurried past.

My next stop was a section of Clement Way, between transformers and a ball field. It is funny how I rarely notice power substations, in spite of their size. I like the way the “Business Exchange” building stands out; perhaps it is the sandy color contrasting with the stormy clouds behind it. Also, do you think there are enough power lines there?

“Spray Paint on Corrugated Steel” could be an art installation decrying the gentrification of street art, but of course its not. It’s just graffiti. The back of that apartment complex on Clement Way was surprisingly ratty. With the booming real-estate market in Lawrenceville, I figured they would at least clean the building.

Moving on, I looped back and crossed the Bloomfield Bridge to come out on Oscar Way. I think the Grouch would be happy here, collecting garbage from those steps. Speaking of steps (and graffiti), I took the Finland Street steps across Bigelow Boulevard and was kinda impressed with this piece of street art. I took it as a “Oh no, I’m 40!” message. Undoubtedly, it means something else.

From here, my path took me down Ridgeway Street, with Leander being my eventual goal. I hadn’t done a huge amount of research, so wasn’t sure exactly what would be waiting for me on Leander. Turns out, it was just another Pittsburgh street, clinging to the hillside and going nowhere. I was actually surprised how well-kept the houses were. That gray shed caught my eye, with its small extra door cut in the big door, with a sign “Low Clearance”! What? Why not just use the big door? I suppose there are reasons…

Luckily for me, I had an escape route from Leander and didn’t have to go all the way back to Herron. The 30th Street Steps took me down to Bigelow. Further down, a section of the same steps are blocked off at Paulowna.

Speaking of Paulowna, it lead me right past the pool at the West Penn Community Recreation Center. For some reason, I had always called that the “Polish Hill Recreation Center”, but I stand corrected. The pool wasn’t open and not even filled with water, which was a shame, because a dip in the pool would have felt great. But the driveway to the pool was a red-herring. I needed to take the lower path which took me past a ball field, with a game in progress. This was actually a fortunate find, as I needed to do Kenny Way, the alley on the other side. I often have concerns about the safety of dead-end alleys, but, so far, its always been OK. This one did narrow after Harran Street, but continued above back-yards only to pop-out in the parking lot of Mt. Horran Baptist Church. The back end of Brereton took my down into the Strip District.

Now I made my way across the 31st Street Bridge. Downtown was obscured by a thundershower. However, once I realized that showers were upstream as well, I put away my phone and took no more pictures.

That was a wise move, but it didn’t really start raining in earnest until I had powered up Rialto and was on the far side of Troy Hill. By the way, the words “Just how wet can I get?” apparently angers storm clouds. They just try harder. Coming down the Wicklines River, I made a left on Spring Garden Creek then up Lager Falls. The knotweed made a nice canopy on Wet Purse Way, but eventually I had to get going again. I splashed through a few more Troy Hill streets and squished my way back to Liberty Avenue via the 40th Street Bridge, passing a wet band in the Millvale Riverfront Park en route.

Long Way to Traverse

RATS run #00414 From South Side to Traverse Field

On this bright Saturday morning, a group of friends, led by Bob and Nancy, were doing the South Side Slopes piece of the “Take the Stairs Fatass” 50k. That route draws a jagged circle around Pittsburgh, starting in Spring Garden. An unsupported event (e.g. a ‘fatass’), it uses over 70 flights of city steps to bring the participants to some of the best views highlighting the city.

Anyway, I was NOT doing it, but figured I could meet up them. Sure enough, shortly after I parked in the South Side, I ran into them huffing and puffing up Eleanor Street. It has great views, and everyone in Pittsburgh should do them.

Breaking off after a few blocks, I continued through Arlington and to Amanda Street as it cuts down to Carrick. I needed to complete Charlock Way and Dove Way.

This area of the city; Knoxville, Mount Oliver, Mount Oliver Borough and Beltzhoover, are tightly packed. In some lucky areas, trees throw some shade, while in others, it is just sun, concrete and houses. Dove Way sounds pleasant enough, like the gentle cooing of mourning doves as the sun comes up over a green yard edged by flowers. The reality is different. It goes behind narrow towering houses leaning on each other for support. Grimes Avenue, while aptly named, at least has some trees.

Continuing the bird theme, I cut down through Partridge Way and a little unnamed alley off of Hawk Way.

Finally, I went back to Brownsville Road, passing the flower vendor en route to Borough Way. Borough Way straddles the southern border of the Borough of Mt Oliver and the City of Pittsburgh. At the end of Borough Way sits Traverse Field, which has little league baseball games. I finished up a little alley there and made my way back over the big hill, back to the South Side. It was a hilly seven miler. I was beat at the end.

Post Run

Alleys in Oakland

https://www.strava.com/activities/4915176085
Route of run #00378 in Oakland

As I’ve covered more and more of Pittsburgh, my runs are increasingly on smaller streets and alleys. This early March run into Oakland definitely fits that description. I started in Dinosaur Playground, as my kids used to call it. It’s a great little playground and field at the tip of Schenley Park. Pre-Covid, parking in Oakland was so expensive and scarce that many people would park here and walk to Pitt on a daily basis.

But let’s get things started with shoes and sunsets. Shoes on the wires and a nice sunset across the “Charles Anderson Memorial Bridge” carrying Panther Hollow Road out of the Park, where it mysteriously renames itself to Boulevard of the Allies.

Continuing into Oakland I made my way down Coltart Street to Iroquois Way. For some reason, it isn’t on most visitors’ “must-see” list! Coltart Street is very typical of Central Oakland. Low houses, duplexes and apartments struggle for space under the rising tide of Pitt development.

Students and medical professionals flow through Oakland, going to work, going home, going to classes, laundromats, restaurants, and bars. I think the colorful mural is along Bates Street, but Gene’s Place is harder to find, well hidden off of Atwood Street. It does not serve food, so with the strange restaurant laws in Pennsylvania, it still allows indoor smoking.

Rounding out the neighborhood tour, I came back to Dinosaur Playground via the Panther Hollow Bridge passing in front of Phipps. A short run, a short blog!

Ivory Avenue

https://www.strava.com/activities/4909505912
RATS #00377 Ivory Avenue

Nearly a month ago, March 7, to be exact, I explored the Ivory Avenue section of Pittsburgh. This little ‘Burger slice is isolated from the rest of Pittsburgh by I-279 and Ross Township. It is closer to Ross Park Mall than to Downtown, but retains a neighborhood feel, once you get off the busy feeder roads to the interstate.

I started, as I often do, from Riverview Park, winding down Venture Street and up East Street. “Up” being very literal here. That brought me to wide, sunny streets in this northern hinterland. The houses and yards here tend to be large. With that theme, someone is really serious about staking their garden. Is it for “Godzilla Big Boy” tomatoes, or hops plants? I’m not sure.

Grizella Street (yes, that’s the actual name) sports little dead-end spurs, Radium, Rutland and Montana. They are pleasant enough to run on, but after a short flat section, they fall off the hill, and the climb back up is very steep. Montana continues as steps from Grizella to Swanson, where a KDKA transmitter sits. The tower is contained behind a rusty fence and old antenna shells litter the ground below, like petals falling off a flower.

From here, I continued toward Ivory Avenue, passing Fiasco Art Center en route. Eventually I came to I-279 as it passes under Perrysville Avenue. The city border is pretty jagged here, I had to run out of the city on Connie Drive to get the section of Connie Drive which was in the city. While that was a bit of a pain in the butt, at least I found the murder weapon. It was Colonel Mustard on Connie Drive with the Crowbar, right?

This area wasn’t very runner friendly. While there was a sidewalk on one side of the bridge, it dropped me off on a wide and somewhat busy Ivory Avenue with no sidewalks. Luckily the far neighborhood was much more cozy, perched on a hill and full of three and four bedroom homes.

Ross Township cuts in and out of the neighborhood but I could keep my bearings by glancing up at the Channel 11 TV Tower. The far side of the hill dropped me onto West View Avenue as it intersects McKnight Road. This was another pedestrian-unfriendly area. Nonetheless, traffic wasn’t too bad and I dodged in and out the shady streets like Zane Way, Valley View Street and Cherryland Street. Darting into Summer Hill briefly, I made my way back to Evergreen Road, pleasantly surprised to find a sidewalk through the rock garden under the interstate bridges.

Evergreen Road
Evergreen Road Passing Under the Interstate

Returning by going up Venture Street, I finished up with 15 miles and a nice 1,700 feet of elevation.

February Roundup

February was a bit of a slowdown. I only ran 75 miles strewn across eleven runs. Only eight of them earned the coveted RATS badge. However, February was pretty cold, snowy and icy, so any miles were good miles. I’m up to about 80% of the Pittsburgh streets done. Here are this month’s last three routes.

RATS #00370 in Garfield

https://www.strava.com/activities/4850441556
RATS #00370 in Garfield

This was on the periphery of Garfield along Mossfield Street, with a foray onto Brown Way as the sun set. It is a surprisingly rural route, given the dense housing all around.

I made my way to Mora Way. It looks a lot better now that Dumpbusters got a whack at it last year, carting away truckloads of trash and tires. We didn’t get rid of the hill, though!

Once up on Schenley Avenue (which is totally out of place from all the other “Schenley” named parts of the city), I circled back towards the Garfield Hill. I found steps at the end of Breesport. They go up to Fort Pitt playground, though they were crumbling, snow covered and fenced off at the top. Further down North Mathilda, there are some steps falling off the hill near Reno Way. Those seem to be the remnants of a house, as there are no handrails, posts or map evidence of a street there.

I cruised down Brown Way, taking in the evening views.

This neighborhood in undergoing a rapid transformation. Old houses are falling down next to new ones and construction proliferates.

And that was it, three and a half miles done, with a friendly reminder to “Call Your Mom!”, if you are fortunate enough to have her still around.

RATS #00371 – East Liberty, Garfield, Larimer

https://www.strava.com/activities/4861319000
RATS #00371 in Garfield, East Liberty and Larimer

As the weather improved, my runs lengthened. I also have an upcoming 50K, so I need to get more miles in. Today’s run was mainly about East Liberty, although I ventured briefly into Shadyside, Garfield and Larimer to cross off more streets.

East Liberty is also going through construction and destruction. At the site of former housing project, a Whole Foods is going up. On the back streets, you can still see hand-painted business signs.

This jaunt was over eleven miles.

RATS #00372 Beltzhoover

https://www.strava.com/activities/4868729046
RATS #00372 Beltzhoover

This was my fifth run in a row, so I was a bit tired and unmotivated. Nonetheless, it turned out well. Now Beltzhoover is less than pristine. Nearly every street has several “eyesore” houses. The steps are typically crumbling. However, it is a busy area, full of people walking their dogs, going to the store and working on their houses. It is also rather big.

I started along Eat Warrington Avenue, passing the metal vegan place and turning at the wild cat-snake mural next to the beer store. Of course the mural has a Steelers logo on it!

Then it was up and down alleys.

Finishing up, I caught a glimpse of South Hills Junction, where the T-Line goes into the Mount Washington Transit Tunnel.

And that’s it! Looking forward to a warmer and sunnier month!

Lincoln Place and the Hill

Synopsis

Here are a couple of runs done in mid-February. A “polar vortex” and the threat of it kept me inside for a bit. So, no didn’t do a 20-20, (twenty miler at twenty degrees). Perhaps the late January fall encouraged me to be more careful or I’m just tired of running in the dark and cold. At any rate, the Lincoln Place run covered a large section of that neighborhood while the Hill run just about completed it.

RATS #00368 Over the Hill

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RATS #00368 – Finishing up the Hill

Prior to coming out, I used a popular hack for making ‘ice shoes’. You simply put small machine screws into the bottom of your shoes. Once started, they go into the dense rubber easily. With 15 screws on the bottom of each shoe, I was very confident, even on ice.

I started this Saturday afternoon’s run in North Oakland. The recent spate of snow had been cleared enough so that driving was tolerable, but dirty snow, pushed aside, lined most walks and gutters. University Drive in Oakland is still under construction, so I had to take a detour around that. Then I ran down Centre, crossing Herron and heading into the Hill. My target area was a number of small streets in the Middle Hill. Many of the streets were still undisturbed and had ankle deep snow in them.

Hallet, Horton, Humber, I must have stumbled into the “H” section of Pittsburgh, in the Hill District, no less. I have often pondered the easy alliteration of adjoining streets. Homewood has many “F” alleys, Brookline has its “B” streets. It’s kinda cute, unless you’re trying to remember where to turn by just the first letter. Oh, no!

At any rate, the alleys were deep in snow, but mainly passable. The ice-shoes were doing great and I wasn’t even too cold. Periodically, snow squalls blew through, diminishing my vision. Normally, you can see the UPMC building from the Somers’ steps.

I came across a couple of sets of steps. One, Chauncy Street, I was familiar with. It’s a pretty impressive thoroughfare taking you down to Centre Avenue. The other, Caramel Way, was a bit of a surprise. On the map, it just looked like another alley. Blocked off at the top, it wasn’t from the bottom. Following some frozen footsteps up the mildly broken steps it was clear where treads were missing. I did have to duck under a downed tree, but it wasn’t too extreme.

As usual, there were buildings ready to fall down and some historic markers. This plaque is dedicated to jazz great Art Blakey. Presumably he lived in the house? A rather oversized, chilly bass player was still out practicing in the snow.

I had fun on this run, in spite of the conditions. The shoes worked out well.

RATS #00369 – Lincoln Place

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Route of RATS #00369 in Lincoln Place

And, now, to one of the southernmost neighborhoods in Pittsburgh. A week after that last run, the snow was still around, and it was a beautiful, sunny day. Snow really looks good on Pittsburgh.

My first order of business was to track down a staircase between Glenhurst and Lougean. I had missed it on an earlier run. So, I tromped down Mifflin Road, dodging cars until I got to Glenhurst. The wooden stairs were snuggled between two very suburban houses.

Steps from Glenhurst to Lougean
Steps from Glenhurst to Lougean

From there, it was an adventure on back alleys which went much further than I expected. “F” Way, “D” Way and “C” Way took me way back to country sheds. Overall, this was a nice area to run in. It was lacking in sidewalks, but also lacked in traffic.

Eventually I found myself on Mooney Road, heading towards Mifflin Road. After Beechland Street, Mooney Road, itself, becomes a country road. This narrow street dives down a steep hill to Mifflin Road. Along this section, there are only three or four houses, each precariously perched on a hillside. As I approached Mifflin Road, I noticed a large house across the ravine. Strangely enough, no road or driveway was visible. I still wonder how those folks get home.

By the time I had gone down Mooney and back to Beechland, the sun was sliding over the hillsides. I finished out a few more streets and cruised back to McBride Park, my favorite place to park.

Ridgemont and Westwood

Three of my runs in January completed 99% of the streets in Westwood and Ridgemont. These two western neighborhoods perch atop hillsides on either side of Greentree Road. I’ve run extensively in Westwood, but Ridgemont was a whole new area.

https://www.strava.com/activities/4649360974
RATS #00358 Westwood

Run #00358 in Westwood was a “just get out there and do it” run. My intention was to complete Rydal Street and a couple of neighboring streets. In the darkness, I missed Sedley Way, but was otherwise successful. Nothing beats snowy steps at night!

https://www.strava.com/activities/4702189987
RATS #00362 – Ridgemont

Continuing with the evening running, my next run took me behind the Giant Eagle in the former Parkway Center Mall. Merely minutes outside the Fort Pitt Tunnels, Parkway Center Mall is torn down. Shadowy parking lots with feeble fences lead toward the bright Giant Eagle. The ubiquitous asphalt undulates, as if the land itself is trying to throw off the abomination of acres of paving.

I took a quick shaky selfie and headed on down Greentree Road and up Hamburg Street. The blue ice filter captured the temps appropriately. This, I must say, is the first the skull-decorated, smoking-moon outhouse I’ve found. I stayed on the hilltops, where the sun’s light lingered until the dazzling city lights came out.

It was a short, exploratory run in a new neighborhood.

https://www.strava.com/activities/4707540599
RATS #00363 – Ridgemont and Westwood

RATS #00363, a daytime run, pretty much completed the last two runs. I finished up lower sections of Ridgemont and in the end, even covered Sedley Way in Westwood.

With the knowledge from the previous run, I started right into Ridgemont along Springfield Street. This time, though, I made my way down New York Street to the dead-ends of Junius and Journal Streets. On the map they look like fork tines sticking into the hillside.

In real life, Junius and Journal are narrow streets clinging to the steep hill. A set of derelict steps gave me access to Journal without backtracking too much. On the farther side of Journal, the steps, now truly overgrown, fall off the hill. According to maps, they look like they go down to a railroad track. I’m not sure if they originally went further, for there’s a set of steps off of China Street below which look like they should meet. It’s all a rather moot point, though, because the steps are in bad shape and go nowhere. In the bottom picture, you can barely make out the steps and a few green rail posts still standing.

Just as a footnote, Junius continues on the map to Greentree Road. However, from the Ridgemont side, Junius ends in a veritable graveyard of cars in front of a narrow house. Journal Street, has a renovated house on the end, but also has ruins of houses along its course.

With Junius and Journal out of the way, I went to find the other side of Junius, off of Greentree Road. Junius does go up a bit, but Verna, a smaller road, is just blocked off from the street. While the bareness of winter allowed me to see everything, there’s not much to see. Steps, all twelve of them, took me from Ridgemont to Greentree. This rusty truck is hidden away at the end of an office park.

Now I explored the higher side of Westwood. Like Ridgemont, it has sweeping views. I daresay I can see the smokestacks from the Cheswick Power Plant! That’s about 14 miles away, as the indefatigable crow flies. I’m pretty sure that blue water tower on stilts is in the Upper Hill. That’s closer, only five miles away.

After such heights, I returned to lower Westwood; once again made my way up Milnor steps and finally ran Sedley Way.

Finally making my way back towards my car, I had to wait for a moment to cross Warriors Road. Looking down, I noticed gravestones at my feet. I think they must have originally been in Mt. Pisgah’s graveyard, across the street. Usually roads aren’t built across cemeteries. The picture below is a composite picture of two of the graves I saw.

With these three runs, I’ve covered most of Westwood and Ridgemont. I know there are a couple of alley’s I’ve missed, so one day I’ll be back.

Snowy Run from a Month Gone By

(January to be exact)

https://www.strava.com/activities/4632494430
Route of run #00356

Once again, I’m reaching back into last month’s runs. There were so many of them! Several of my posts delightedly spoke of ice-free streets and sunny days. This day, however, looked more like January. The wind was howling, the snow was blowing, the skies were gray. (Much like today, the February day I’m writing this.)

At any rate, I ran in the Corliss section of Sheraden; a sub-neighborhood, if you will. This is roughly between Chartiers Avenue and Middletown Road. Chartiers Avenue is rather urban. Middletown Road, on the other hand, has a wide-open, suburban feel. Like tectonic plates colliding, these two visions collide in Corliss, yielding steep streets and tortured steps; a land of broken steps.

Getting started right off the bat, I noticed these steps for “Jenkins Street”. I was surprised because Jenkins Street did not appear on my map. Turns out, Jenkins hasn’t been a real street for decades. Most of the “lots” along that papery street are owned by the City of Pittsburgh. I took a screenshot of the Allegheny County Real Estate Portal and added the red arrows where Jenkins is supposed to be. The steps there are in surprisingly good shape and the street sign for this nonexistent street is top-notch.

Moving on, I crossed Middletown and slogged up a long alley. The recent snowfall made everything more picturesque. It went all the way to Chartiers Avenue, where you can see the West End houses rising high towards the overlook.

This high-side of Chartiers has many nooks and crannies. Tybee Steps look pretty official, but when you get to the other side, you’re trekking on a grassy slope between houses. Those steps with the nice white picket fence could be part of Newcomer Street, or they could just be a poorly maintained walkway to someone’s house. Newcomer Street is another street destined to exist only on paper. The one section is a little used section off of Emporia. The other section is now a personal driveway, all fifty yards of it.

While most of my pics are of steps here, there are a few houses. These two, in particular, struck me. The 1920’s red brick house, in particular, is very impressive. That balcony! That wrap-around porch! The octagonal tower! The creamy yellow house is more modest, but is a bright spot on a dead end below Fadette Street.

Speaking of Fadette, Fadette is split into several sections and shape-shifts into stairs for a bit. Unfortunately, the Fadette Steps are tattered and torn. I’m always critical of closed stairs. Are they closed for reason, or just because someone got annoyed with them? These are closed for good reason with missing treads and wonky wooden handrails. Hopefully they will get repaired before nature reduces them to urban artifacts.

These broken steps seriously messed with my planned route. I had to detour along Faronia Street to get to the bottom. Along the way, I came across another impressive, and closed, set of steps; Jeffers Steps. I went up a bit, but could not make it to the top in the swirling snow. Later, Fire Way, above, afforded me the view of the top. It was getting chilly and a fire didn’t sound bad.

I suppose there were enough steps to keep me warm. Pritchard Street and Mutual Street had step-assisted paths from Chartiers Avenue. There were steps down to Tuxedo Street, with its skate park, but they, too, were broken.

Pritchard Street