A run after work, this run quickly went from a jaunt through leaf-covered streets to picking my way through the dark on a closed road. Closed for good reason, it turns out.
I started near Heinz Lofts, apartments where once ketchup oozed. Who knows, perhaps ketchup is still oozing somewhere up there. I made my way through the Northside, eventually turning right onto Marshall Avenue, as it ramps up to the top of cemetery hill. I’ve sometimes wondered if the two huge cemeteries, Highland and Union Dale, has killed off normal urban development in the area. The sun was setting as I got to the small streets at the top of the hill. After snapping that pic, I crisscrossed the few small streets back there, then popped out onto North Charles, via Crispin Street.
North Charles rises like a ramp then jumps over I-279 on the Swindell Bridge. From the bridge, I glimpsed glowing towers downtown. With all the hills and ravines, effective darkness falls at strikingly different times.
Shortly after crossing the Swindell Bridge, I had planned to come down Gershon Street. I found it blocked, but decided to venture down it anyway. Sometimes, it is only bad for cars and pedestrians have free rein. That was the case here and a short internet search revealed some answers. It turns out that Gershon has been closed since February 2018, when landslides made the road unstable. Apparently the no-nonsense Jersey barriers were installed a few months later, after a driver drove past the police sawhorses and subsequently had to be rescued. I can see why it’s still closed. Yawning gaps on the right side disappear down the hill.
I wasn’t the only one on the street. A middle-aged man walking his dog waved as I ran by. Actually he challenged me to run up it! Maybe another day.
It was now fully dark and I simply ran along East Street, following the faint residual ketchup smell back to Heinz.
October 2020 was a pretty good month. I did not do big long runs on the weekends, but got a good fifteen runs done, with fourteen of them covering new streets. Final stats were 100 running miles with over 12,000 feet of elevation. I’ve made significant progress in north Pittsburgh, with 98% of the streets done from the Northshore to Riverview Park. I’ve also continued to cover southern neighborhoods such as Carrick and Lincoln Place. It’s been a beautiful Fall, with only a couple of cold days. Several runs swept through ‘stairy’ areas; run #319 hit at least half dozen long ones. For better or worse, there are several significant runs in this catch-up, so its rather long.
RATS #00315: Brookline, Overbrook and Carrick
Starting at Brookline Memorial Park, I ventured down Breining to Briggs in that area of long streets. But Briggs turns into Seldon, which took me directly to the Fan Street Steps down to Glenbury. I’m constantly attracted to dead-ends, tunnels and steps. This had it all. I passed through the Glenbury Viaduct to find myself at the busy intersection of Saw Mill Run Boulevard and Library Road.
I noticed a line of steps up the farther hill and waited patiently at the light wondering exactly where they would lead. Those steps turned out to be Horning Street, off of Ivyglen. Horning keeps rising, even after leaving the benefit of the steps behind. At any rate, in keeping with the spirit of the run, Horning dead-ends at a cemetery, Beth Abraham Cemetery. I kept on its perimeter, looking in briefly where Ivyglen enters.
I wandered further into Carrick, eventually getting to Brownsville Road and almost stepping into Brentwood. Thankfully, a sign alerted me, so I curved back. The curvy streets twice concluded in curvy sidewalk steps along Ivyglen, once where Lodge meets Ivyglen and again where Odette hits Ivyglen. For some reason, Odette is not in Bob Regan’s book and not on the City of Pittsburgh’s stair list even though they both include the Lodge Street steps, a block away. They also both include the Sanderson Street Steps which have been closed since at least 2007.
With that I made my way back, peeking in on Pinecastle Street in passing.
RATS #316 Brighton Heights and Marshall Shadeland
This was a five mile run on a chilly misty Autumn evening starting at Legion Memorial Park. I have mixed feelings about this memorial. While I have the utmost respect for those whose names are listed, I find the Disneyesque Mr. Universe sculpture almost ridiculous.
From there, it was just down Shadeland Avenue, then up Schimmer.
RATS #00317 Just a bit of East Street
There’s a new run club in town – City of Bridges Run Club. This run was supposed to be with them, but I was running late. No worries, I just took on a small section of East Street, climbed Suffolk and got a Fineview. It was great to hang out afterwards, masks and all.
RATS #00318 Back to Carrick
Another run in Carrick, mainly along Spencer and Kirk avenues. Eventually, I stepped out of bounds, dipping my toe into Baldwin Borough for a bit. It was dark, so I can be forgiven. Speaking of dark, they could use a few lights along Custer Avenue I daresay. I skirted a couple of spooky cemeteries along the way.
RATS #00319 – Marshall-Shadeland and Woods Run
Hold onto your hats and handrails! This was an epic half marathon in Marshall-Shadeland and Woods Run. What made it so epic? The autumn scenery, the crazy number of steps, the half-marathon distance, the 1,768 feet of elevation, and finally the hills and houses! I also took an epic number of pictures, which I pared down to fit here, believe it or not.
First, some Autumn scenery
Now for some steps. Of these, Wing Way was pretty neat because it intersected several streets on the way up and had a little walkway to Courtright Street, which took me under the Shadeland Avenue Bridge. Malden Street Steps were also pretty cool.
Now for some houses and scenes along the run. The neat white house is in Highwood Cemetery, while the multi-level ‘chalet’ at first looks impressive, until you see the boarded up windows. The rather rural looking Courtright Street runs under the very urban Shadeland Avenue Bridge. Deck gargoyles added a little spookiness to the streets, as if they needed it.
Finally, I got a kick out of the intersection of California Street with California Street and I always love seeing the belly of the bridges, like large dragons sprawling across the hollow.
RATS #00320 Sunday Afternoon in Carrick
RATS #00320 took me back to Carrick. In particular, I wanted to finish up on some areas which had been cut short by darkness earlier. Unlike the epic run #00319, this one was fairly tame. A few steps, some deer and lots of suburban houses.
At the end, though, I got quite a scare. I had stepped out of the city again.
And that’s about it. November, with early darkness and poor weather was a struggle for me last year. Hopefully I can do better this year.
So, I’m jumping around in my blog posts. This run, #00314, was almost two weeks prior to run #00321 in my last post. However, it had too many interesting tidbits just to shove it into October’s cleanup post. My main goal was the Halsey Street Steps off of California Avenue. However, to get there, I ambled a bit more in California-Kirkbride.
I started in “Lower” California-KirkBride where a few residential streets struggle between Brighton Road and the USPS facility on California Avenue. I like the mural on the scrap yard door, only realizing later it was Warhola’s Scrap Metals. The Mero Way mural is impressive, as is the massive postal service facility which dominates the area. Up from California Avenue, streets A and B climb up the hill, sometimes with the aid of steps. A Street is shown on my map as climbing all the way up the hill. In reality it ends at Kirkbride Street. B Street has more luck, climbing to Lamont and then as steps to Morrison.
Lamont and Morrison both dead-end into a wooded slope where they used to be connected by A Street. Most of the houses in the area have been demolished, but there a few a still standing and being renovated. In fact, on my way up Morrison, a young guy impatiently waited for me to go by before continuing to clean in front of his house.
From here, I sauntered down to California Avenue, crossing Marshall Avenue, looking for Halsey Place on my right. Shortly I found it, a short street up a steep hill. It quickly became a set of stairs.
So, I was pleasantly surprised by the little streets around Halsey Place. It’s no Fox Chapel, that’s granted, but it was a decent little neighborhood. Kids were riding bikes, moms were chatting on the stoop, families were coming home from school.
From here, I completed Colorado Avenue, as it parallels California. This ended on Superior Avenue. I squiggled my way up Superior, to Stayton and eventually to North Charles. Off of North Charles were a few streets I’ve repeatedly missed, Strauss and Cross. I’ve been mystified why I never have been on Harlan Avenue either, then I realized it had been blocked off. The steps going to it are intact, but overgrown.
I ended by going up the cobblestone street, Melrose, then circling back down Buena Vista again. It was a rather long run for a weekday evening, but pretty invigorating. I’m thinking perhaps a run on blocked off streets is in order; Harlan, Metcalf, Irwin and Yale. Hmm.
This Monday evening run took me through the Northside, into Perry Hilltop and down through California-Kirkbride. The early evening in this area is quite active. There’s still lots of renovations going on in the Mexican War Streets. Kids are playing before dinner and men and women are getting home from work. My route meandered through the Central Northside, with its narrow streets eventually rising up Buena Vista Street.
Buena Vista is flat near West North Avenue, but by the time it passes behind Propel School, it has a 14% slope. It gets as steep as 17% before leveling off in three tenths of a mile. On my way down, I took the picture below, surprised how close Trimont seemed.
Overlook “intersects” Rolla with a nice set of steps. Rolla itself is just a short street from Buena Vista to Yale Street. Yale is blocked off and has been for a number of years, apparently. A cursory internet search didn’t turn up any specific reason, but checking the real estate site revealed that most lots on Yale are owned by the City of Pittsburgh. The other Yale Street in Pittsburgh is in Carrick.
That aside, one end of Rolla Street hits Buena Vista while the other drains down a steep staircase to Irwin Street. Those steps apparently had houses and other steps branching off from it. Towards the bottom, a sidewalk veers off of the steps to the Propel School grounds.
From here, I trotted over to California-Kirkbride. It is not a large area, but has bedeviled me with its grid of streets, for some reason. Ah, I know one reason, some of the “streets” are paper streets, which quickly ruin a planned route. Nonetheless, there’s things going on there recently. Many old houses have been demolished and lots have been landscaped. There are new houses and a little bit of artwork on the lonesome walls. One of the remaining buildings hosts a faded sign for “Clays”, a bar.
At this point, I had done most of my planned route and decided to venture further up California Avenue. I ended up in a land of exits and entries for cars where it intersects Marshall Avenue. Not sure, but do you think I can get to Route 65 or Route 19 from there?
I finished off exploring by doing Ridgeland Drive. For the day’s final set of steps, I discovered this small set of steps at the end of Ridgeland Place going to Oliver High School and Brighton Road.
From here, I just made my way back to my car. It had been a good run with lots to see.