Four October Runs Across Pittsburgh

I’m writing this blog on March 12, 2022 and am very depressed by the current state of world affairs. I’m sad for Ukraine, angry at Russia and exasperated by the U.S. response. Nonetheless, here are four runs in October, spread across the city from Belmar to Fairywood. Hopefully recalling better days will brighten my mood, and yours too.


RATS #00463 Belmar

RATS Run #00463 in Belmar was another effort to finish up some small streets and dead-ends in the area. It was just to the northwest of RATS Run #00462. I started on Meade Street and caught Calway Street and Heart Court right off the bat. Then I made a long trek on Upland and Apple past the Negro Opera House. I’ve remarked on this house before. Now, it looks like renovations are underway. Yay! Perhaps these will be completed?

Moving on, my next goal was Mingo Street. Earlier, on a run with Rich, I balked at going past the barriers at the bottom of the hill. Today, though, I wanted to take a closer look. It turns out that Mingo Street does, indeed, continue. It passes two houses which seem ready to fall down. Reflecting on yesterday’s run on Hallam Street, I expect these houses to be gone without a trace in ten years.

I followed Mingo around the hill. It emerges onto Latana Way, where kids still play with trucks and a very red shed hosts basketball tournaments. Turning back onto Grotto Street, I crossed Lemington Avenue and made my way onto Elrod Way. Tucked up the hill was the alley of my destiny, Mayo Way.

I had some Mayo sandwiched between two dead-ends. Along the way, I daresay I surprised an old guy hanging out in his garage, but I made sure not to park it anywhere. To be honest these “No Parking” signs crack me up. I mean, really? Is this a problem? People parking in front of an inaccessible, broken down garage? Or is it that “No Parking” signs are more durable than your regular signs?

Anyway, moving on, I made it to both ends of Ebel Street and, again, verified that I’d be sanctioned heavily if I trespassed onto Highland Drive, a former site of the VA Hospital.

From here, I made my to Easton Way and through the Paulson Playground. On a warm afternoon, this place is swarming with kids. Today was quiet, though. Then it was a short jaunt up Clifford Way. I did not see a Big Red Dog, but he could have been hiding in the dense undergrowth.

From here, I made my Dreary way across the Larimar Avenue Bridge and followed Relic Way to its bitter end. For some reason, the GPS thinks I ran through yards, houses and sheds instead of straight down Relic. And that was it, a solid 8.84 mile run.


RATS #00464 Fairywood

RATS #00464 was on the opposite edge of town; a few Pittsburgh streets off of Ingram Avenue and then into Fairywood. I was a bit surprised to find an historical marker for Pittsburgh way out here. I suppose it’s a border sort of thing.

After running halfway across the Steubanville Pike Bridge, I came back skirted past an old “Sharp Edge” restaurant, with inviting red awnings. However, the windows were dark and the place was deserted. Closed. I have heard, though, that another restaurant will be moving in.

I ducked under the bridge to run along Napor Boulevard. Napor runs along the edge of an light industrial park on the edge of Chartiers Creek. Cellones is a large scale Italian bakery which has facilities here. Chartiers Creek looked peaceful.

Coming back to West Steuban Street, I crossed over Ingram Avenue and onto Woodmere Drive. An Amazon warehouse sits at the end of Woodmere. With a quick left then right, I found myself back on Industrial Highway. While only 3/4 of a mile long, it is built like a full scale highway. I’m always a little scared to run on it and really push the pace. Today was no exception, as my leisurely 10 minute pace increased to a 7 min/mile pace before I got winded and had to drop back to an 8:30. Great place to sprint.

I intended to go to the end of Industrial Highway, or as Strava calls it, “Chartiers Valley Lane”. However, the road went through a gate, marked “No Pedestrian Access”. Hmm, that seems pretty clear. Hey, I went further than the Google Streetview car did! It looks like Maple Grove Aggregates is the only thing down there.

I turned back toward the heart of Fairywood. As I’ve mentioned before, there used to be a housing development here. That one is empty land now. An empty pool is starting life over as a forest, tree by tree. But there is a housing development on the other side of Broadhead Road and one of Pittsburgh’s biggest landowners, the URA is trying to develop this.

I finished up running along Windgap Road. That’s a street in bad need of sidewalks. I did get a peek into the 25 yrd long Medford Street before finishing up in the Ingram Crafton Shopping Center.


RATS #00465 Brookline

RATS Run #00465 was a quick run in Brookline to finish up alleys like Pontoon Way (both sides), Minor Way, Redbird Way, Mossrose Way and Georgette Street among others. However, it was already dark by the time I got going, so I don’t have many pics. I think this neighborhood, nestled between Glenbury Road and Carmalt Field is pretty nice. It is all suburban residential, but the hills and alleys give it a mysterious air. From the end of Wychelm you can see the lights of downtown.

After going up to the end of Wychelm, I went down Parklyn, catching the left and right to get to the end of Mossrose Way. I returned along the long stretch of Mossrose, where it rises above the houses as a lane covered in pine needles. Making two rights, I decided to be bold and go down Georgette Lane. It was not, indeed, a driveway, but rather a respectable, short street with a house at the end.

I finished up Minor Way and went to the end of Redbird. That alley just bailed out at the top of a hill into someone’s backyard. Whoops! A wet, short night run all done.


RATS #00466 Duquesne Heights and Mount Washington

Returning to daylight and hills again, RATS Run #0466 wrapped around Mt. Washington and Duquesne Heights. I spent some time on the Emerald View Trail, which encircles this section of town.

Cielo Lane juts off of Fingal Street to provide some nice views of the Point. I tromped down to Greenleaf, which dives toward the West End Circle. However, about half way down I took the steep right onto Homer Street. There are only a few houses there, perched high on the hill. Homer leads directly into Emerald View Park.

I took Emerald View until I popped up on Grandview. From there I completed Augusta Street, en route to Wyloa Street. I thought I had completed Wyola, but it turns out there is a little spur which remains to be done. However, I got to traverse some of my favorite steps, Greenleaf and Well.

Now, my next target was Chess Street, but that was well on the other side of Woodruff Street. I took a “shortcut” by going up the Mann Street Steps to get me closer to the southern end of Mt Washington Park. I was appalled by the lack of a retaining wall behind condos being built on Grace Street. I can already see the road being undermined.

In the woods I lost my sense of direction and ended up on Norton, instead of Spahrgrove. Chess Street, wasn’t much to see, in spite of the cobblestones.

From here, I ran back to my car on Bigham. Damn, this area is hilly!

The Way it Was

RATS #00462 – East Hills

This run, RATS #00462 in the East Hills, was at a strange time…Friday morning. It turns out I had some vacation to burn, so I took a day off to complete some streets. Now, overall, I had been through this area many times, but I needed to finish up Hill Street, Square Way, Cain Way, Hallam Street and Angoria Way.

On my way to Hill Street, I passed the pink Triceratops near Braddock Avenue. From there, I made my way past a little-used skate park to Hill Avenue as it smacks into the East Busway. It seems someone’s intention is to close that street, so a pile of dirt and bushes cuts it off for cars. However intrepid pedestrians can find a path to the end of Hill Avenue. There’s not a whole lot to see as it curves around to Madeira Street.

Now I kinda did a U-Turn. Madeira runs into Wood Street and I picked up the other side of Hill Avenue. I roughly followed the border of Pittsburgh and Wilkinsburg as it undulates up and down Swissvale Avenue and Laketon Road.

My goal was the end of Square Way. It is an alley from Fairlawn Street to past Frankella Avenue. I was thinking this was the only Frankella in the US, but no, there’s another one in Florida. How weird is that? Anyway, Square Way just ended unceremoniously in a grassy area. Now, my next target streets were over on Frankstown Road, so I took the widely curving trip up Robinson Boulevard. At the top there’s a very large vacant area on the left. Well over twenty years ago there was a shopping center here, “East Hills Shopping Center”. Now the best they can do is a U-Pull-And-Pay, an auto salvage business.

Formerly a Shopping Area

That took me to Frankstown Road and back into the city. I picked up Woods Avenue (no relation to Wood Street) and went up the hills onto Dersham Street. Slashing onto the wooded hillsides above, many streets jut off of Dersham. They are mostly dead-end streets with modest houses along them. I went up Cain Way to the last house, to the bumper of the car parked at the end. It didn’t look too promising, so I scurried back down the hill. Dersham ends at Standard Avenue, where I took a right-left combo to climb onto Perchment Street.

Perchment is similar to Dersham, but further up the hill and more isolated. Passing Lawndale, with its steps, I came to Hallam Street. This street always had worried me. Often cars parked up the small street and the corner, dilapidated house scared me. I suppose its silly to be scared of a house, but there it is. This day, however, maybe because it was a Friday, the road was open; no cars parked on it. So I explored.

Rather quickly the smooth pavement becomes a rutted road. A little further, downed trees attempted to block the way. More insidious were the weeds with bristles and thorns. But lingering asphalt showed where the street had been, all the way to a house’s foundation. Google Streetview shows a house there as late as 2011.

I was surprised not more was left of the house. What happened? Was it demolished? Is this a parable for the transitory nature of human existence? Tracking my way back, I noticed a grove littered with monkeyballs. Those have been around since the mastodons. Now, the end of Hallam Street looked very much like civilization and I felt more friendly towards the house on the corner.

Now, I just had one more adventure in store. Angoria Way had a little branch off of Ferndale which I had earlier missed. I went up Blackadore to catch that end but initially missed the turn and ended up in Penn Hills. Realizing my mistake, I more carefully ran back. The reason I missed it was that it looked like a grassy driveway. I should’ve known by now.

Angoria just took me past dilapidated houses and the occasional car. With this, I made my way down Wheeler, through the heart of Homewood. Great way to spend a day, seven miles done.

Three Recovery Runs in September

Hey Folks! Hope everyone is having a happy holiday season. The days have gone by fast and its been nearly three weeks since my last post. Whoops! At any rate, here are three runs from mid-September. Incidentally, they are the first three runs I did after running the Pine Creek 100K on September 11.


RATS #00448 in Homewood

This was a bit of a recovery run which included some small alleys in Homewood, one of the city’s flattest areas. First, I crossed the East Busway and trekked to the end of Chaucer Street, as it disappeared into woods.

Then I reversed course to Spin Way, where a cool old car was parked casually on the street. Unlike the usual ‘disappear into the woods’, Spin Way ended at a gated, weed-filled parking area. From here, I worked my way to the end of Beecher Street, which peters out into a field.

At this point, I just ran back to my car.


RATS Run #00449 starting with City of Bridges Run Club

This was a fun run, which I started with the City of Bridges Run Club. Shortly after we crossed the Smithfield Street Bridge, I branched off. I took a gander at the Wabash Tunnel Ramp, which seems very much like a highway ramp to me, no sidewalk, no shoulders and a high possibility of cars zipping past. I would not recommend anyone run or walk it.

From there I ran past Station Square and towards 12th and 13th Streets along McKean Street, Cabot Way and Bingham Street. 13th Street ends at a railroad track, wide-open.

From here, I crossed the 10th Street Bridge and headed back downtown. The sun is setting noticeably earlier so by the time I got to Second Avenue, under the Liberty Bridge, cars’ lights were on and streetlights showed the way.


RATS Run #00450 in Perry South, Marshal Shadeland and California Kirkbride

Now, I was back in the saddle. This run, RATS #00450, took me from Riverview Park, down into Perry South, into California-Kirkbride and back through Marshall Shadeland and Woods Run. The first part of interest was an alley at the back of Fowler Field. This is just off of North Charles Street.

Last year, I teamed up with Dumpbusters to have a “Trashy 5K”, where we picked up garbage along North Charles. This time, I needed to finish off Snyder Street where I noticed this old red truck with the beady-eyed creature looking at me. It was a friendly stare, so I smiled and moved on.

My next adventure was to find the end of Harlan Avenue. While Harlan is blocked off pretty soon after it intersects Strauss Street, I wanted to see how far it went. First I passed the Jersey Barriers, then the overgrown No-Parking sign, then up the weed-choked asphalt. Finally the road itself became a broken jumble of asphalt, concrete blocks and bricks. That looked like the end of the road to me. From the end, I could see the remnants of the Irwin Street Steps. Missing treads are evident by the lack of shadows on that lower flight. They are mostly missing, which must be why these steps are blocked off from top and bottom.

From here, I crossed Brighton Road and headed to the top of California-Kirkbride. I usually like to use Hyena Way, but since I wanted to stay on top, I took Winifred. There are some great views here, from Stranmore Way and Sunday Way. There’s also a Mercedes which has been parked way too long.

From here, I did my due diligence on Morrison and Lamont Streets, going past the last houses, into more stinging weeds. B Street Steps provided a nice short-cut. Just mind the missing tread!

I cut over to the other end of Stranmore, where it intersects Hyena Way. Coming down the hill, there’s a lot of construction activity. This Ingersoll-Rand Paving Roller looks like it has had a bad day. I’d hate to be the one to change that tire.

After going down Hoffman Street, I crossed over to Beaver, finding my way back to Riverview Park. I ended up going into Woods Run, using the low road into the park.

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

Crossing the River and through Homewood

Here are two runs from the end of May.

RATS #00411 in Homewood

Homewood! Homewood! Homewood!

I’ve written about you often and been through your maze of streets and alleys more than once. However, there’s always a little more of you. This was a Sunday afternoon run to tie up loose ends. El Court, for instance. On my first run past, I thought it was a sketchy driveway. Going around the block and back, I decided it was just sketchy, not a driveway. It has the style of row houses facing each other. Of course, a car was parked at the end facing outward. Why not?

I’ve found that this style of housing, with its row houses enclosing some sort of walkway or driveway, is found occasionally across the city, typically in older neighborhoods, Lawrenceville, Oakland and Perry Hilltop for instance. El Court, however, takes the cake for disrepair.

Another street I needed was Annan Way. It intersects North Braddock and parallels the busway as it heads toward North Homewood Avenue. Cinnibar Way is a similar-looking alley but isn’t nearly as long. It does have that typical red-brick paving of most of Homewood’s alleys.

Prior to getting here, though, I traipsed up Inglenook Place. I had done that area earlier, with its long flight of stairs up to Sickle Street. However, I had missed a tree-lined alley, Hackett Way, earlier. Actually, earlier I didn’t think it was even a street. But it is, and there I was, running it down. I didn’t get a good picture of it, but it’s right under those trees at the top of the steps.

In spite of rampant dumping in alleys, deer frequent the open grassy lots. Cuddy’s looks like a store from the 50’s.

Murals adorn many brick buildings. As I was discussing with a friend recently, these are ‘paid’ art; I call it graffiti gentrification. Most of it is pretty cool with real design and artistic talent. Of course, it’s just not the same as the midnight taggers marking their territory.

And that’s about it.


RATS Run #00412

I started this run, run #00412, across the Allegheny River. It is “officially” in the Lincoln-Lemington-Belmar neighborhood. Mostly, though, is a an Aspinwall, Fox Chapel shopping area.

After getting all the way to Fox Chapel Road, I retraced my steps and crossed the Highland Park Bridge. It crosses the Allegheny just upriver from “Lock and Dam 2”. It is a fairly simple lock and dam, maybe nine or ten feet high.

I ran past scads of cars slowly making their way into the Pittsburgh Zoo. It was a beautiful Memorial Day and the zoo looked packed. Just beyond One Wild Place, I took a detour off of Butler Street to do Ballard Way, Gallatin Street and the Jancey Street Steps.

Moving on down Butler Street, I noticed what seems to be large amounts of dumping down near railroad tracks. Turns out, this is an auto-salvage business and the mountain of metal will, I assume, be recycled. I stumbled upon a few streets which took me under the 62nd Street Bridge.

Apparently, the authorities frown on people dismantling their cars down here. What the heck?! In this land of the free, why can’t I just dismantle my car wherever I feel like it? Sheez! That sign made me so mad, I think I’ll just keep my car intact. Take THAT!

Silly rant aside, it was another world, down there under the bridge. Much more active than I thought it would be.

Moving on, I went up onto the bridge and ran across. Halfway across I was officially out of Pittsburgh and into Shaler. It does have some cools views of the city, must say. Of course, as I approached the northern end of the bridge, I crossed the ubiquitous railroad tracks again.

Another eight miles in the books.


So, that is it for May 2021. In spite of a week of travel, I ran over 100 miles. I’m slowly chipping away at the streets.

Finally! A Monthly Wrap-Up for November 2020

Summary

This November, I kept up my streak of 100 mile months and 10k+ elevation gains. I did hit some road blocks. While totally predictable, early darkness wreaked havoc on my running habits. Not so predictable was a week of quarantining due to Covid-19 exposure. Either way, I had sixteen runs in November, of which thirteen of them covered new streets. I am closing in on completing 70% of Pittsburgh’s streets. I wasn’t too good at blogging, though.

RATS #00328

https://www.strava.com/activities/4348197882
RATS #00328 in Brookline

This was a short run starting at Brookline Memorial Park covering Oakridge and Freedom Streets. The brilliant sunset gave way to just the slightest sliver of the moon. I caught the hippo in dusk, but the flag was still up when I returned in the dark. Aren’t flags supposed to be taken down or lit at night?

RATS #00329

https://www.strava.com/activities/4362738815
RATS #00329 in East Liberty

This four mile run also embraced the dark. I started with a few Shadyside streets and then ventured into East Liberty and Larimer. Missing my turn, I went up Lincoln Avenue instead of Lowell Street, seriously disrupting my planned route. Yet, with only 88 feet of elevation, I enjoyed this, the flattest run I had done in awhile. Eventually though, beyond the stores and street lights of East Liberty, the poorly lit streets and unfamiliar area got to me and I skedaddled back to my car, using the steps down to Ellsworth Avenue as a shortcut. It turns out, even those steps are “official” city steps.

RATS #00330

https://www.strava.com/activities/4370938579
RATS #00330 in the West End

Ah, the West End. The overlook has my favorite view of downtown. It also has a little parking lot, so it’s a great place to start. Balloons and candles remained for “KMB”, whomever that is.

I had visited this area several times already, but had missed some streets. The West End is unrelenting in its hills. Streets going toward the river are extremely steep, but even the cross streets bounce up and down. I ran up to St. Martin Cemetery crisscrossing the neighborhood on little streets and alleys. These unofficial steps on Navajo Way were a lucky break. Otherwise I would have had to run around those blocks again.

I headed downhill and ventured out Chartiers Avenue a bit; going up Litchfield Street. This “street” consists of several impressive flights of stairs. The streets are less impressive, generally winding up hills to arrive in someone’s garage. None of those streets are thruways.