Basic Questions

RATS #00460 New Homestead

Does Basic Street REALLY have a spur which connects Revenue with Girder? How far down Chord Street is it feasible to run? Is Mestaland really a street? These questions and more had vexed me for some time. Early on a bright Sunday morning in October, I intended to get some answers. I parked at the West Homestead Community Park and ran back into the city. Even here, an electric scooter was dumped along the road. Niceville leads up to Armorhill, past a little New Homestead sign. Somehow, the last time I was on Armorhill, I had missed the turn for Mestaland.

Oh, now I realize why. It looks like a driveway! Anyway, I took Mestaland as it snuck behind houses on Armorhill, clinging to the top of a ridge overlooking Sandcastle. At the end were a few mobile homes stacked on foundations and several “Private Property” signs. No worries, folks, there’s nothing appealing here anyway.

Getting back to Armorhill, I took a right as it winds and becomes Panorama Street and Ingot Avenue. There are several streets jutting off to the left and I cruised down each one. An elderly man was taking his morning walk down Mariana and I asked him whether the street continued. “Not anymore” he said. Then he asked “Is that your car parked on the side of the road?” I had noticed it, too, a small blue car. “Nope not mine.”

Panorama Street became Spike Way with a playing field on the left and skying radio towers to the right. Two of these were old style towers, with guy wires going everywhere.

Now Ingot Avenue starts to drop quickly until it intersects Girder Street. On an earlier run, I had taken the right. This time I took the left. According to Strava, Basic Street should intersect Girder before it curves into Chord Street. On the other hand, Google Maps indicates that Girder curves and dead-ends before some houses, with no other intersection. Must say that the reality is closer to Google Maps.

Google Map Screenshot

Girder was simply a narrow roadway; but Basic, as it ends, becomes a driveway for numerous vehicles in varying states of operation. Three mildewed trailers, and some trucks guarded the driveway full of vehicles. This did not look promising, so I turned around.

Working my way back to Armorhill, I passed Mt. Rise Baptist Church and the blue car again. This time, as I ran past, I noticed a man slouching down in the front seat, sleeping. Well, look at that! Time to pick up the pace! I made another effort to find mythical Basic Street connector off of Revenue Street and only found a cell-tower and a dragon.

Just a little over three miles had answered many of my questions. No, None and Yes, if you’re keeping score.

Redstone, Morse and Chatsworth

RATS Run #00459 in Hazelwood

RATS run #00459 in Hazelwood was a re-run, specifically to finish up ends of some streets that had evaded me earlier. It could be a parable, but I’ve often found that an initial attempt at covering streets fails only to be done with another try. Sometimes, honestly, it takes more than two tries. And, sometimes, I reach the conclusion that a street, or perhaps a portion of it, is simply inaccessible.

Anyway, I parked near Mill 19, the new center for Advanced Manufacturing built from the skeleton of an old steel mill. From there, I ran up Hazelwood Avenue and made a right onto Monongahela and another right to cover Redstone Way. Redstone Way is a driveway next to row houses. The last time I was there, the street was busy with kids playing and parents hanging out in the driveway. I took a pass on it that day. Today though, an early, humid Saturday morning, the road was empty and I scooched down that 20 yards of driveway as quick as a cat.

Quick Kitty Looking For a Treat

Well, not this particular cat. This kitty was very interested in getting attention, purring and meowing, but didn’t seem very quick. I made my way over to Glen Caladh, off of Gertrude. With a name like “Glen Caladh”, I’d expect a bucolic Scottish scene with babbling brooks and stone walls keeping sheep at bay. Instead, I got a series of low-slung row houses.

Morse Way is at the end of Glen Caladh. On the right, Morse Way quickly disintegrates into the woods. On the left, the long narrow alley leads to Flowers Avenue. On a previous journey, there was an antique car in pristine condition parked back here. I didn’t see it today.

I sped out to Johnston Avenue to pick up Marigold Lane then headed up the hill on Flowers. Towering hills enclose Flowers Street, which, itself rises part way up the hill. Many houses are in dire need of repair. A few have the City of Pittsburgh’s blue “condemned”sign on them.

However, at the corner of Nansen, there is a Free Little Library and a nonperishable goods cupboard. Nansen seems to be the center of “Owl Hollow”, which has a strong sense of community, steep steps and periodically, music performances.

Continuing up the hill, the grade increased from about 5% on Flowers to over 10% on Kilbourne, as it climbed to Tesla Street. This stretch is one of the “Dirty Dozen” hills in Pittsburgh. Now, I didn’t do that whole stretch at once, but rather made my the right at Tesla, completing Edington Street as it wanders into the Hazelwood Greenway. The end there was easy to see, for it had a doll house out. Or maybe an elaborately painted dog house? I don’t know. I do know that the steps from this top section of Edington down to Flowers are completely overgrown and impassable, even with that bright blue street sign at the top.

Now I tackled the steep part of Tesla, clawing out to the left at Clarion and Prescott, streets like flat knife blades stabbing into the hill. Passing Prescott, I saw a fox dart into the lush green acres of Calvary Cemetery.

Finally up on top, I lost all that elevation by going down Frayne Street and adventuring to the end of Elyria Way where a gate awaited. Returning down Hazelwood, I headed for my last adventure here; Chatsworth. This section of Hazelwood seems more open than the area areas around Flowers and Gertrude Streets. A broad, steep hillside rises directly from Irwin Street. Streets parallel to Irwin are nearly flat while the cross-streets are steep enough for steps.

Fortunately, Chatsworth is parallel to Irwin. On my way to the end of Chatsworth, I passed a pretty impressive brick church; abandoned, but a decent Dek Hockey rink and steps up to gardens. From the end of Chatsworth, downtown Pittsburgh peeks out, seemingly forever away. Mill 19, on the other hand is right there, its erector-set skeleton belying its size.

With that, I scrambled down to Irwin Street back to my car. A nice six mile tour of Hazelwood.

Last August

Here are a couple of runs to finish out August of 2021. It wasn’t my highest mileage month, by far, with only sixty-one miles recorded and eight street runs. But, there were other life events; a vacation, a wedding, so I’m okay with it.


RATS #00443 in Highland Park and Stanton Heights

This was an evening run to catch a few streets from Highland Park to Stanton Heights. I started by running up from North Highland Avenue to Sheridan Avenue. I circled Sheridan Court, a mid-50’s “modern” housing plan. From there, I dove into the Highland Park.

I traipsed down One Wild at the back of the Pittsburgh Zoo. I had gotten a late start, so it was getting dusky when I saw lights through the trees. A dragon! These cute white and blue creatures! Are they Chinese zodiac lanterns? This was the closest I got to the Lantern Festival.

One Wild Place meets Butler Street just before the large zoo parking lots. In prime summer season, this little stretch is clogged with cars; families going to the zoo; families getting ice cream and dogs; silly commuters trying to make their way through this mess. Now, however, the sun was setting, the zoo lots were empty and the burgers were sold out, leaving stragglers with only malts, floats and sundaes at the Lock & Dam Dog Shop.

Just past this intersection Gallatin Street rises from Butler, crosses Baker Street and steps its way into the tip of Morningside. I took a left on Witherspoon until it becomes Java Way, a little cul-de-sac between small houses. I worked my way through Morningside to Greenwood Street, where steps rise to Stanton Heights.

The dusk had given way to full blown night by the time I made through Stanton Heights to Arcade Way. Looks like high summer is over.

Arcade Way

RATS #00444 in East Liberty

RATS run #00444 was a wet little run in East Liberty. Hudson Place, Armstrong Way, Tyler Way, Kalida Drive and Weldin Way were on my list this night. Following a theme, I got a rather late start; 8 PM, in a downpour. My pictures are all blurry with splotches of light, quite representative of my vision that night.

I really didn’t mind the rain too much and splashing through puddles is, after all, one of my superpowers. However, I scared the bejeebers out of someone on Weldin Way.

Weldin Way is a potholed alley which dead-ends into a parking lot surrounded by dingy apartments. Just before I made my turn down onto Weldin Way, a car turned down the alley. Normally cars are in another dimension – they speed by like I’m a rock. However, with the low light, potholes and rain, this one went slowly, in fact almost as slow as I was going. I kept hoping it would turn off somewhere, but no, it went all the way to the end of Weldin with me only a few yards behind. It parked while I splashed to the end of the lot. As it was a dead-end, I had to go back out. While I gave the car a wide berth, a woman got out of it and screamed just as I ran by. I had totally surprised her. I muttered apologies and ran out of there.


That, my friends is all for August 2021.

Short August Runs

Here are a few short runs from August.


RATS #00438 – California-Kirkbride and Marshall-Shadeland

Here’s a little Sunday funday runday. Fivish miles in California-Kirkbride and Marshall-Shadeland. With the bulk of the streets done, it was more about going down back alleys than an expansive opening of an area. Accordingly, while starting in Allegheny West, I made my way up California Avenue. Flowers at the corner of Marshall Avenue and California Avenue were as bright as the day.

Moving up Superior Street, I took a side trip on Seiffert Way to Thelma Way. On Google Maps, it looks like Thelma Way goes through. It doesn’t. Rather it ends in a tangle of weeds and branches. Seiffert Way and Ludene Way were as advertised; short, dead-end alleys. I wonder how many times I’ve used ‘dead-end’ in this blog. At least a thousand. Next stop was Bland Street. How Bland was it?

Really Really Bland

Pushing forward through the myopic, dystopic fog, I came to a ballfield and Unit 56, waiting for orders. Unit 56 looks a little forlorn. Has the Mothership abandoned it? Did no one pick it for the team? How long has it been sitting there, with weeds growing into its brain?

It was all downhill from here, though I had an AMAZING time!


RATS #00439 into Duck Hollow

This run was even shorter than the last. I just wanted to complete a couple of streets in Duck Hollow. Rather late one Tuesday evening I made my way there via a bike trail below Summerset. Trails go off the main one into old slag heaps, although this one was apparently closed.

Duck Hollow has four streets and maybe twenty houses. It is at the confluence of Nine-Mile Run and the Monongahela River. After some research I found a nice Pitt News article about it. Surprisingly enough, I sometimes run with Mike Portogallo whom they interviewed. Small world.

I do have some news! McFarren Street has been rerouted over a new bridge. Perhaps now Duck Hollow residents can get deliveries to their door. My pictures of the Hollow, itself, came out rather fuzzy between my running and the dusky light.

I went in on the new bridge and came out on the old, open grate bridge. The railroad trestle is striking in the twilight.

Finally, I came out onto the parking lot above the Mon. Sure enough, folks of all shapes and sizes were hanging out, enjoying the evening. I enjoyed the view of the river and the Homestead High Level Bridge.

Homestead High Level Bridge

RATS #00440 in Brookline

Another short, evening run; this time in Brookline. July Way, Harex Way and Tariff Way were my goals. July and Harex I got, but Tariff Way continues to frustrate me.

There’s a street sign on Sussex Avenue at it’s intersection with Tariff. I dutifully did that little driveway section which, incidentally, doesn’t even show up on CityStrides or Google Maps. Meanwhile the other section of Tariff Way, off of Thistle Street, goes about twenty yards before arriving at a broad expanse of lawn. I suppose I need to go across the lawn and have a beer at the neighbors for CityStrides to recognize it. Argh!

At any rate, it was a decent little run on a hot summer’s evening. I even got to do the Stebbins Steps, again.


RATS #00441 in Greenfield

This is a Greenfield Re-Run. I was retracing a route which CityStrides hadn’t picked up. While that was initially a bit annoying, it turned out to be a good run with some amazing views. I love this one from the corner of Lydia and Bigelow.

From there I wrapped around a couple of alleys, some which dropped me into backyards, some of which allowed me passage. The grapevine arbor was pretty cool.

Eventually I found my way to Tasso Street, which has two distinct sections joined by the Noah Street steps and the Bud Hammer baseball field. The home team must have won, as heavenly beams of light shone down on the field.

And that was all, 4ish miles on a hot August evening. My watch recorded over 600 feet of elevation in this run. Not sure I believe that.


So, there are a few more runs in August I haven’t recorded here. I’ll get to those in the next blog. Thanks for reading along.

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.

Summer Evening Showers in the East

RATS #00428 in Regent Square, Park Place and Point Breeze

This run, #00428, was longer than average, but captured only a few streets. That seems to be the case more and more, as I go back over an area just to finish an alley here, a forgotten street there. At any rate, nothing wrong with run on a summer evening, cooled just slightly by showers.

I started out seeking the very end of Macon Avenue, that very end which slips out of Swissvale and punctures the Pittsburgh border. I found it at the bottom of a hill as I hurtled towards Frick Park. Coming back up, I got to enjoy Regent Square. Many of the roads are bricks, wavy as they freeze and thaw throughout the years. Nonetheless, the houses are cool and this Little Library was as well. It looks to be a modern design with a green roof. “Alpha Bakery”caught my eye, while “You Have to F##cking Eat”(with lemurs’ tails strategically placed) sent me away laughing.

Moving on, I went past Construction Junction to conquer Thomas Street. That’s right, “street”. Thomas Boulevard is well-known, but Thomas Street is just a little alley/ parking lot drive connecting both parts of the Boulevard, the Braddock Avenue side with the Fifth Avenue side. I daresay I’d never been there before. Large industrial buildings stretched to the East Busway.

From here, I cut through Meade Street to get to Wren Way. I love the pedestrian-only shortcut, but Wren Way was a nondescript garage alley.

From here I ventured a bit into Homewood. At this point, a few quick showers thoroughly doused me. I expected them to continue, but the setting sun quickly came out again. Eastview Street, surprisingly, had a garden at its end.

Now I stepped down a few alleys off of Hamilton, as the sun started to peek under the clouds. Yum, BBQ! That took me back to 5th Avenue, where I wiggled through a number of small streets in search of forgotten cul-de-sacs.

Most of these cul-de-sacs were early incarnations of the idea, as they are small turnarounds, not the grand circles you see today. These houses caught my eye, from the plain brown one to the spectacular modern one, hidden behind a green wall. I love the turreted blue one, too.

Finally, I trekked through Frick Park, returning to Regent Square. In the dusky trails I saw a family of deer, including this buck. They didn’t pay too much attention to me.

Buck in Frick

Long July 4th Weekend Running

Here are three streets runs which I sandwiched around my attempt at the Hell Hath No Hurry 50 Miler. Unfortunately, that race was on trails in Settler’s Cabin Park and so added nothing to my street total. I also only got in 38 miles, so DNFed. But I digress.


RATS Run #00423 in Squirrel Hill

This was such a short run I didn’t even bring my camera, or maybe it was that I ran before 7AM and wasn’t really awake. At any rate, I just took in Victory Way (top circle), Timberline Court (bottom circle) and the bottom piece of Forward Avenue (you have to find that by yourself.)


Hell Hath No Hurry

HHNH 38 miles, 6ish loops

RATS #00425 – West End and Elliott

Monday, July 5th, was a day off work with no big plans. So, of course, I explored the city some more. My “A” goal was a few snickering little streets in the West End. Every time I drove my them, I could hear them, snickering, “He hasn’t found US yet. Ha Ha!” Well, today, with candy bar in hand and a patriotic shirt on for good luck, I set out to end that snickering once and for all.

The first little snickerdoodle to go down was Plank Street. It is pretty much a driveway from the bottom of a cliff, across Wabash Street and into Saw Mill Run (the creek). The next peanut in the gallery was China Street. There’s no wonder I had missed it before, because little is there. A few cobblestones near the billboard at the bottom of Greentree Road traced where the street had been. Pushing through the undergrowth I could feel remains of a street, but everything else was overgrown. Some time ago, I think there were steps from China Street to the train line above. On maps it appears they would have almost connected with Journal Street steps in Ridgemont, but I don’t know if that actually was the case. At any rate, I didn’t see evidence of steps. Perhaps in the winter I would have.

From there, I crisscrossed under railroad trestles off of McKnight Street, as it plays jump-rope with Saw Mill Run. Several businesses still hang on down there, from Johnny’s Diner to TMT Services. I would not want to be here in a flash flood, with water crashing down off the hills.

From here I ventured up Noblestown Road. I’ve used it for many years as an alternate route when the Fort Pitt Tunnel is backed up. As a driver, I appreciate its curvy efficiency. As a pedestrian, I’m traumatized its lack of sidewalks. At least there is a small shoulder, and, if I would rather risk falling down a slope than getting hit by a car, I have the option of trotting on the far side of a guide rail. On a normal day, this would be pretty dangerous. However, with little going on and no traffic, it was OK. I feel bad for folks who use that bus stop on a regular basis, though.

Around the curve, I was rewarded by thundering applause from dozens of Kennywood prize animals watching my progress. (Or maybe it was just my thundering heartbeat!) Continuing, I came across the Old Stone Tavern, in operation nearly continually from the 1780’s well into the 2000’s. There is a group, “Pittsburgh’s Old Stone Tavern Friends Trust Inc.” which is trying to keep the tavern from falling into disrepair. I hope they succeed.

Old Stone Tavern

Another building, more of a garage, struck me. “Mike Mannella” is proudly emblazoned across the lintel. I didn’t get as much information about that building and am curious if anyone knows the story there.

Mike’s parking spot?

I returned a different way, down the Kerr Street steps, one of my favorite flights in the city.

Kerr Street Steps

RATS #00425 in Squirrel Hill

Less adventurous than my last run, this one took me around the “North of Forbes” section of Squirrel Hill. Large single family houses are intermixed with condos on the shady streets.

Off of the major streets like Wilkins, Negley and Fifth, little dead-end streets curve up the hill providing privacy for unique houses.

Down near CMU, I took a little street off of Morewood behind frat houses. It’s off-season and a deer family quietly watched me run by. Robin Way is listed on CityStrides as a street, but in fact it is a private drive. With that, I was done on this lazy summer evening.

Majestic Archon Oil

RATS Run #00420

Majestic Archon Oil; no isn’t the latest renaming of Standard Oil, but rather three of the alleys I finished up on this run in Friendship and Garfield. Archon Way is just a short little garage access road in Friendship. It dead-ends into a shabby garage, festooned with car parts.

Moving up the hill into Garfield, I came across this massive white house which still holds some glory, in spite of the window bars and peeling paint. I also came across this new recent construction, or is it a brutalist building? Only the architect knows for sure.

Up in Garfield, I darted in and out of alleys. Oil Way is little more than a small driveway, while Majestic Way is a steep stone stab into the hill. At the top of the hill in Garfield, the greenery takes over. One alley ends in an empty lot, now a playground. Fannel Street is as green as a lawn-bowling court with a rabbit directing traffic.