Reminiscing Cool Ivory

RATS Run #00482 Perry North and Ivory Avenue

This run, RATS run #00482 took place last December, on a cool and misty Saturday morning. As I’m writing this, it’s mid-July, 2022, and another heat wave is predicted to brown the grass and sear the lungs. Between then and now, I’ve run two road marathons, done an unsupported 52 mile hike and completed the 36 mile, Rachel Carson Trail Challenge, so my running has been much more active than my street exploration.

Nonetheless, on December 11, I drove up to Riverview Park to start another exploration of Perry North and Ivory Avenue. I had several goals; finish Groyne Street, climb Mike Wolff Drive, explore Zane Place to the Zth degree, tool around Adna Place, and pick my way down Bluebelle until I found Peacock. With my phone in a ziplock bag to protect from the rain and mist, the pics all came out blurry.

Groyne was just a little drive between two houses going down Venture Street. But Mike Wolff Drive could be located by the TV tower in the distance. It’s quite a hilly drive. I made sure to go all the way to the end, where a dozen satellite dishes looked this way and that, gathering signals from all over. The TV tower has barnacle antennas all the way up its length. On the edges of the lot, steel guy wires keep the tower in place.

Next on the agenda was Zane Place. My maps showed it as two disjointed segments off of Nelson Run Road, so I was pleasantly surprised to find a footpath connecting the two sections. I had been dreading backtracking down Zane Place, but didn’t have to!

From here, I found my way to Adna Street. This is another driveway-like street. I surprisingly came across a friend of mine who I know as an awesome trail runner, up in these northern streets.

Now I scampered back to Perrysville Avenue. I pursued Phipps Street to it’s end at a large house overlooking I-279. (Strava has the name as “Philips”, but that’s probably wrong.) Then I took the Bluebelle steps, those rickety, slick wooden treads up to Peacock Way. Again, Strava says it is “Bluebelle Street”, but Google and the street-sign agree on Peacock. Past the garages, Peacock peters out into a grassy hilltop.

Returning down Peacock, where it becomes Amos Street, I was greeted by an amazing view. I’ve seen this view before, but I still think it’s cool that I could see the Observatory at Riverview Park from here. I made my way past Fiasco Art’s wild murals to Perrysville Avenue again.

Instead of going directly back to my car, I took Vinceton to Dornestic Street. My goal was Festoria Street, off of Oakdale. A few twists and turns and a large set of steps got me down to Oakdale, passing a horse pasture along the way.

I briefly went up Festoria, but, alas, no pics. Oakdale Street seems very remote. In reality, it is only a half-mile from neighborhoods packed with houses, lawns and cars. I followed Oakdale to Mairdale and went up into the park. Unfortunately, there was some construction and I ended up bushwhacking my way up to the road I was parked on.

And that was it, six miles on a cool late Autumn day.

November Skies 2021

Here are three runs to close out November 2021. RATS run #00478 was a little three miler in Arlington, Mt. Oliver and St. Clair, while #00479 was a seven miler in Crafton Heights and Elliott and #00480 was a four miler in Lincoln Place. All were designed to fill in ends of roads and alleys missed.


RATS run #00478 in Arlington and St. Clair

For RATS run #00478, I started high on the hill next to Arlington Playground. There is a small water park here and a ball field. A good batter might be forgiven if they think they could hit the ball downtown, it seems so close. Leaving the dreams of the field behind, I bounded down Mountain Avenue then made a sharp right onto Parkwood Road.

This section of Parkwood Road ascends a steep hill going into Pittsburgh’s Mt. Oliver. The left side has steep lots speckled with houses. The right side, where the sidewalk is, passes medium and small houses whose back yards drop off quickly. Once I got to Otilla, Parkwood had leveled off, 120 feet above its Mountain Avenue intersection.

Making the left onto Otilla Street, I sought out my first goal, Poco Way. This small alley goes behind five houses on St. Joseph Street and ends. Returning to Otilla, I made a left onto Walde Way en route to Farina Way. Like many of these later “streets”, Farina Way looked like a driveway at first. However, I was pleasantly surprised when it hooked up with Ignatious Way behind leaf-strewn yards. Ignatious intersects with Rectanwald Street and I took Rectanwald’s short flight of broad steps back to Walde.

From here, I scampered down to McManus as it travels behind an elementary school. Steps down, steps up and I was back on Mountain. I went up to Henger to complete a section I had missed. A Jersey barrier blocks the road, but residents have sprayed a message for drug dealers: “Go elsewhere…We Are Watching!”

They must have been listening, because there was no one there. I scampered over the barrier and continued on Henger to the fences. The fences enclose what was once St. Clair Village. From what I’ve read, it became a festering spot for crime and drugs and was subsequently torn down. That was years ago. It is still vacant. Some sections are now used by the Urban Hilltop Farm, but none of the housing has been rebuilt.

From here, I returned to Arlington Playground via Mountain Avenue. It was a rather satisfying run, what with the unexpected passage on Ignatious, clarifying Henger and Poco. Henger even gave me some souvenirs; seedlings stuck to my tights.


RATS Run #00479 in Elliott, Crafton Heights and the West End

RATS run #00479 was a romp in the West. I started at Herschel Park, one of my favorites. I think it’s the unexpected view and the easy access, both getting to Herschel Park and running the western neighborhoods from it. Anyway, for this day, I had more dead-ends to explore. My first one was Coey Way off of Arnold. Coey Way is a rather tame alley which goes directly uphill, behind brick suburban houses to a parking spot.

Then it was off to Corso Way, less than a quarter mile away. However Corso Way seems to be in a different world. To get there, I took Obey Street as it steeply falls off toward Noblestown Road. Just past “Grimes Signs”, Magnus Way on the left, snakes uphill past a couple of houses. When it turns, Corso Way begins. Corso Way, goes about 1/4 mile into the woods. I ran down it, splashing through muddy ruts, six inches deep. At the end, a low slung house or trailer stood, with “Beware of dogs” signs, and a couple of cars parked in front.

I was happy to return out of that alley. I worked my way up Obey Street to Albia Way, just off of Steuban. That was an uneventful alley, mainly for garage access. Now, once I made it to Steuban, I made a left and continued down Middletown Road, looking for a cross-street, Woodlow. Alas, I had made a left when I should have gone right and I had to retrace my steps to find Woodlow.

Woodlow cuts from Steuban Street to Crucible Street through a large housing development in Carnegie Heights. It’s hard to tell if it is one big complex, or several smaller apartment complexes adjacent to each other. Now, rather than one house on the end of a muddy alley, like Corso Way, there were twenty or so multi-unit apartment buildings, where hundreds of people live.

I wrapped around Crucible to Dickens then made the right onto Meadowbrook Way. Much like Poco Way in the previous run, this just curved behind some houses and ended. I took a driveway at the back of Pittsburgh Classical Academy which put me out on Chartiers Avenue.

On an earlier run, later at night, I touched on little Elf Street, off of Chartiers. Today, I wanted to do the whole Elf, so again I tromped down Chartiers, past the grimy Marathon Gas, past Inner City Towing’s junk yard and past the muraled retaining wall. The right onto Nittany took me uphill. Large yards from adjacent streets converge on Nittany. They were kids playing and backyard picnic tables along the high-side of Nittany, where it curves and intersects Elf. Elf, itself, is very small; maybe twenty yards. At its end, a nice, large house sits.

Returning to Corliss Street, I now began my ascent of the back-end of the West End. Just before the Corliss Tunnel, Rupp Street on the right takes you to Danley. A two-hundred foot hill climb later and I came out on Mark Way. The road up, Lakewood Street, had nice views across Corliss Street to houses in Sheraden. There were also several house ruins along the way. From Mark Way I could make out the McKees Rocks Bridge through a break in the trees.

Now I kept to the high road; Lakewood to Lorenz to Valonia. I needed to finish off Lander Street. This section of Pittsburgh never ceases to amaze me, with the views and the houses stuck at crazy angles on the hillsides.

Lander Street, itself, is falling off the hillside. Part is blocked off and the hillside is encroaching on the houses.

From Lander Street I went down the Planet Street steps toward the West End. From South Main, you can see Walbridge Street splitting off with sidewalk steps on the right and a cool flight on the left (which takes you to Kerr Street). I took the sidewalk steps.

Almost back at Herschel Park, I just had East Chestnut to do. Once I found it, running the fifty yards to the end wasn’t too hard. And that was that, seven hilly miles and a many alleys done.


RATS Run #00480 in Lincoln Place

In Lincoln Place, RATS Run #00480 took me.

Longer to picture than to run, was Plaport Way, with its non-intersecting ends.

Cooley Way took me coolly beyond the pavement onto a grassy strip behind large yards.

Cooley Way

But I earned it, a grand view of Lincoln Place from Commission Way.

So, in this abbreviated style, you’ll see that I started at McBride Park and did odds and ends of Lincoln Place. Please pray the Krampus doesn’t get me!


That’s all for November, 2021. Ten of my thirteen runs covered new streets on only 65 miles of running. Finishing these “streets” was becoming getting more and more tedious. Mostly, it is running to the ends of alleys or re-running street sections to make sure CityStrides picks it up. Nonetheless, I’m getting there.

Revisiting Vista’s

RATS Run #00467 Allegheny West, Allegheny East, Spring Garden

This post-work run was supposed to be a preview for a City of Bridges Run, but turned into an adventure all of its own. I started near West Park and was happy to see that the Ridge Avenue bridge had been completed. Several runs have been extended when I forgot it was closed and had to go the long way around.

Ridge Avenue Bridge Over Norfolk Southern Tracks

From there, I made my way through East Allegheny towards Spring Garden. I took Gerst Way over I-279. At East Street, I made the left and rambled up to Royal Street. I was looking for a small street, allegedly off of Bly Street. I hadn’t seen it on a previous run, and was hoping to find it tonight.

All I found off of Bly was an overgrown hill. Perhaps the “street” had been steps which have since fallen down. Oh well, I turned back to clear up some more mysteries. For instance, the mystery of Radnor Street and Callen Street, known on Google Maps as Vallette Street; did it exist? Was it passable? I returned to East Street, heading back into town, then turned left onto Rostock Street.

A couple of houses up, I came to the end of Radnor. A barrier prevented cars from going further, but I scooted around. I went deeper and deeper into the underbrush. Eventually I found it impenetrable. Perhaps in the dead of winter this would go through. Returning to Rostock, I came across an open manhole. That’s a long drop and I’m happy I didn’t have a misstep into it. Apparently, though, there is a whole world of manhole-lids. For the curious, check out “The Ultimate Manhole Covers” site.

My next target was a spur of Kaiser Street off of Haslage Avenue. Those were high on the hill above me and I approached them via Vista Street. I had heard the Vista Steps had been re-opened after a two-year renovation project. In fact, a September 21, 2021 City of Pittsburgh Facebook post says, in part, “…This $750,000 Department of Mobility & Infrastructure project saw the preservation of the mosaic mural created by Linda Wallen and nearby residents.” I am a bit surprised at the cost of this, but I suppose these steps will last another 100 years. I’d hate to see what it will cost to fix the Troy Hill Steps. Anyway, it has one of those bike runnels, so that if you’re riding your bike up Vista Street, you can scoot it up alongside you on the steps.

Now, if you ARE riding your bike up Vista Street on a regular basis, you are one hell of an athlete. Between the top of the steps and Goehring Street, the grade is between 8% and 17%. While I have run up it a few times, I think it would be harder on a bike.

Elevation on Vista Street

Making the left onto Goehring Street and right onto Kaiser took me higher and higher. I was disappointed that Kaiser became a driveway at Haslage, with a rope across it and a guy fooling around in the yard. So, for now, I skipped it.

I like this area of Spring Garden / City View. The hills are punishing, the houses are surprisingly cool. At my back, Pittsburgh spreads out below.

Hunnel Street is another unbelievably steep road. Those wooden steps are pretty sturdy in spite of their wavy look. Just before the top of Hunnel, Frontier “Street” goes off to the left. In some regions, that would be called a yard. Today, I took a pass on it.

Hunnel turns into Stein and goes abruptly downhill. Stein, the street, continues as steps past this decrepit white house. Can’t drive that way, of course. If it had a bike runnel, too, I suppose you could sail down the steps on a bike. As it is now, you’d just go bump, bump, bump on your bike. Since I was NOT on a bike, I just went clomp, clomp, clomp down the stairs to Homer Street. My time was getting short and after passing the ghosts of Homer, I scurried back to the Allegheny Center.

En route, I passed the Aviary and saw only one big bird was roosting in a tree. I was hoping it was Cody, but couldn’t really tell.

Aviary

Bells on the City’s Edge

RATS #00456 Along Chartiers Ave on the Pittsburgh-Crafton Border

This run, RATS #00456 was a Sunday evening run in early October along the Pittsburgh-Crafton border. My main purpose here was to complete “Bell’s Run”. Now to get there, I started in the Crafton-Ingram Shopping Center, parked between the Giant Eagle and the Crafton-Ingram Bowling Lanes. You can’t get more Pittsburgh than that. I ran through Crafton’s Central Business District, past Stotz Avenue and out along Bradford Avenue. Making the left along Crafton Boulevard, I crossed the bridge in search of Chartier’s Avenue. Here, it is a trail at the end of Kingston Avenue.

Continuing on the Kingston/Chartiers Trail, I came across some steps which took me up to a residential area. I’m not sure whether to call them the Ewing Road Steps or the Kingston Steps. Anyway, they led me off the trail to a region of large houses and yards in Crafton.

But I was veering off of my path, so I made my way back to Chartiers Avenue near the Idlewood Station, where it is resurrected as a street. I stayed on Chartiers as it wobbled in and out of Pittsburgh. Cellone’s Bakery once had a pedestrian route to their shop, but it was blocked off now. Turning on Bell Road, the road splits, but both ran into closed gates; a bakery and a communication’s tower.

Returning as dusk settled, the deer were out in force, including ones nonchalantly playing in a front yard as well as a skittish buck on the trail. The Dari Delight was still open, so I got a soft-serve. Last one for the season probably.

Pets on the Run

To finish off September 2021, here are four runs; two in the Perry North and Brighton Heights areas, one in Fineview and one in the West End. A couple of these included run ins with pets, famous and obscure.


RATS #00451 Brighton Heights

On a Monday evening, after work and dinner, I set out to finish out a few little streets in Brighton Heights. I must admit, this was not a particularly effective or long run. I did find the end of Weltz Way (looking amazingly like a driveway) and fixed my shoes on Cobbler Circle. However, I took a pass on Karwich and Dougan, with dusk coming on strong (spoiler alert, I came back later to finish those).

That little corner of Pittsburgh off of Speck and Haller streets is quite hilly. Crossing Benton to San Pedro, I was rewarded with a nice broad view and deer leaping up the yards.

From here, I went up Brighton to a stub of Jacks Run Road. Turns out, that wasn’t the end I needed, but it got me out of the city for a few minutes. And, NOW, I know where to get dry ice.

Kelly Dry Ice

RATS #00452 Elliot, West End, Crafton Heights

This was another evening run, but this time I started in the West End. I always take the opportunity to run through the green tunnel on my way to check out the city view from the Overlook. Tonight, a cloud seemed ready to overtake Downtown.

But my way headed down the hill. First stop was Cameron Way which, I discovered, has the city’s pinkest concrete mixer, in addition to an old red van plugging the end.

From here, I glided downhill to explore Nittany Street where it hits Chartiers. Each end of Nittany Street has a sharp curve and changes names; one end, “Valle Rue” and the other “Elf”. Continuing, I passed Pittsburgh Classical Academy School and went up Dubois Street. The street continues through a few turns and changes names at each turn: Idola, India, back to Dubois and finally Dickens. The end of Dickens Street is strewn with old appliances and parked cars, which, honestly always feels creepy to me. But, there’s a nice little cut-over to Greenway Drive, which runs around the school again.

Back at Chartiers, I continued to Municipal Street, going up the steep hill. I just needed to do Fierro Way, an alley. Fierro Way quickly ascends behind the houses on the left. The houses mostly front Fallston Street and have little fenced in yards. The Twilight Bark was going on, every dog in each house taking up the howl, growl and bark as I ran up the alley. I was just thinking “I’m glad they’re all fenced in”, when a screen door burst open and a healthy black and white hound bounded up the back-yard steps and started chasing me. I sped up a little, hoping to get beyond the Fido’s territory, but ended up in a cul-de-sac at the end of the alley.

I now realized Fido wasn’t really chasing me, he was just happy to get out of the house. When I scolded him and told him to go home, he turned around, tail between his legs and trotted back. At his yard, he scurried down his steps.

Whew! I was so relieved that I started seeing orange and purple flamingos on my way back to my car.


RATS #00453 in Fineview

This was a Saturday run after City of Bridges’ Saturday group run. During the group run, we ran across the most famous pet of the year, the Steller’s Sea Eagle, Cody. Cody was just chilling in California-Kirkbride after escaping from his cage at the Aviary. My first thought when seeing him was “Is that real?”

We took lots pictures. He was good with selfies, too. Some folks called 311 but there wasn’t much to do except ogle excessively, so we just finished our run. The epilogue is that Cody stayed free for a week or so and was re-captured in Pine Township, just north of the city. Go to the Aviary and you can see him, squawking to the other birds about the day he got away and ran with City of Bridges.

So, after all that excitement, I took a short route through Fineview, starting up Federal Street. Letsche Street scurries becomes a narrow lane in front of a housing development but steps at the end let me back onto Belleau Street. I turned down Sandusky to see the end of Catoma Street. It just dead-ends into bushes, so not much to see there. Lots of houses here are on crazy slopes. Some are well maintained but many have seen better days.

I went past the Fineview Overlook and up Warren Street, where the “Fineview” is spelled out. Off of Warren Street were a couple of stubs of streets. Ural curves around to Pilsen and stops. Several cats scurried about, likely wondering where that big bird was they had heard about.

I expected the next street off of Warren, Pilham, to be similar. However, while it started off badly, it continued around the backs of houses until it came out on Sprain Street.

Sprain grips the edge of the slope. There are a couple of houses on the high-side, while the low-side houses have fallen into disrepair. Sprain emerges onto Compromise, which ends in steps down to Middle Street in East Allegheny.

With this, I simply returned to my starting spot.


RATS #00454 in Brighton Heights and Perry North

This was very similar to RATS #00451 above. I started at my base in Riverview Park, ran south to make sure I finished Kennedy and Leroy Way. Then I headed north to get the correct section of Jack’s Run Road along with Perryview Avenue. It was another evening run, racing the twilight.

Milroy is one of the steepest, curviest roads you can drive on in Pittsburgh, but I just went down partway. After hitting the end of Bothwell, I scurried up Tretow to Watson Boulevard. That street has quite the mix of houses, some grand mansions and some decrepit row-houses.

And now, for the North section. Pretty scary going down Venture Street, while Perryview Ave was surprisingly flat, filled with brick Pittsburgh Four-Squares.

The most interesting section was Roosevelt Street off of Bascom. While it was just a small lane between 50’s style Cape Cods, there were steps leading into lower Riverview Park. Wooden and wonky, they led to a couple of houses at the bottom.


That’s it for September, 2021. I had lots of miles, aided by my 100K, but struggled to make good progress on the streets. Stay tuned for October!

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.