Alleys in Mount Washington and Streets in East Carnegie

This blog will cover two runs I did earlier in December. RATS #00335 covered yet more little streets in Mount Washington. It seems that every time I look at my maps, I discover another missed street there. The second, RATS #00336, was a foray into East Carnegie, a small (Western) neighborhood jutting into Carnegie, a borough separate from Pittsburgh.

RATS #00335 – Niggly Alleys in Mount Washington

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RATS #00335 in Mount Washington

By this point, if you’ve read anything about Pittsburgh or followed this blog at all, you’ll know that Mount Washington has iconic views of Pittsburgh, overlooking the Point, where the Ohio is formed at the confluence of the Allegheny and Monongahela Rivers. Inevitably, I got a couple of such views.

However, I really planned this run to cover Beam Way, Laura Way (aka Thorpe Way on Google Maps) and Dill Way. I also had my eye on Volk Street, but I was unsure about it since it was marked as a “private drive”. Sometimes, a “private drive” is gated and guarded against the common folk. Perhaps that was their vision, but going up Volk’s street steps, I gather that maybe the rest of Mount Washington should be guarded from Volk Street. Laura Way is more of a service driveway between a couple of eateries.

That is it. Any run in December is a good run. And, it looks like I just have one more super-niggly alley to do in Mount Washington before finishing that whole damn area.

RATS #00336 – East Carnegie

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RATS #00336 – East Carnegie

East Carnegie is a small neighborhood in the western fringe of Pittsburgh; beyond Westwood and beyond Oakwood. It is generally bounded by Noblestown Road, Chartiers Cemetery and Chartiers Creek. This was my first foray into East Carnegie and I actually parked in Carnegie’s business district to trot over.

I’m always happy to see the “Welcome to Pittsburgh” signs on a run. However, East Carnegie is rather dominated by warehouses and mills along Chartiers Creek, and there’s not too much to see there. It was one of the flattest areas I’ve seen around here.

In Pittsburgh, ‘flat and near creeks‘ often spells “F L O O D I N G”. A cursory search revealed a few instances of flash flooding in East Carnegie, but not too much in the last decade. Mine run-off, seems to be a more persistent problem. This small creek, “Whiskey Run” is on the border with Carnegie and has the tell-tale orange look of an iron-laden stream. It doesn’t seem to impact Chartiers Creek much, but it does flow there.

In spite of the quiet and out-of-the-way nature of this neighborhood, while I was running, a car went off the road on Idlewood Road, so I avoided that area. I’ll be back, to get, all those, niggly streets.

Chickens on Sandwich With Dill

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RATS #00312

Early on a Sunday afternoon, I got out and ran to catch some streets in Mount Washington. These were not the touristy streets near Grandview, but rather small residential streets and alleys on the backside of Mount Washington as it slides toward the Saw Mill Run ravine. Between the lunchtime start and an early breakfast, my stomach was grumbling right from the beginning.

Starting Point

Stairs are as ubiquitous here as Steeler’s flag. Here’s a quick collage of some of the steps I did.

The area is filled with houses on impossible slopes packed right next to each other. The foliage was beautiful and I got a kick out of the fun Halloween decorations. Many of the houses were apparently built from the same plan, with slight variations.

Not every street was gorgeous. Some of the alleys in the hollow are lined with worn houses and old cars. I didn’t get a good pic of the car on blocks, but its age was notable. Just how long has it been on blocks?

Wrapping up on Sandwich Way and Dillworth Street, I glanced over and did a double-take. There were two live chickens peacefully pecking around the grass. If only I had had some buns and mayo! Speaking of double-takes, just up the street, Dillworth Street intersects Dillworth Street.

Now with my empty stomach was making louder noises, I scooted back to the car and headed off to lunch. Hmm, chicken sandwich anyone?

Age of Discovery in Mount Washington

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RATS #00260 – Mount Washington Above Liberty Tunnels

Ah, history, it explains a lot. I had no intention of doing a historic run last Saturday, but I came across a couple of historic artifacts, some in use and some not. It all started with a rough plan to complete the Haberman Avenue between Bailey Avenue and Kingsboro Street. After that, I wanted to drift west to cover a series of streets off of Boggs Avenue in Mount Washington.

Not far down Haberman, I encountered Eureka Street where it transforms into steps leading to LaClede Street. While LaClede and Haberman are essentially parallel, and, at one point connected by a 50 yard span of asphalt, they ‘feel’ different. At this point, Habermann seems more spacious and open compared to LaClede. Perhaps it is because the yards off of Habermann have backyards sloping down and away, whereas the lots on LaClede are steeply sloped up, seeming closed in. Perhaps it is because Haberman continues across East Warrington, whereas LaClede dead-ends into Secane.

At any rate, the streets west of LaClede are in a regular grid. One street, Harwood, goes straight downhill. After Secane, it becomes Harwood Way, an increasingly steep set of steps. The steps descend all the way to the South Hills’ trolley line; the “T” as it is known. Coming back up those steps, I noticed that the last house on the steps, with all its gargoyles, actually faces away from the road. I also noticed immense brick towers rising out of the earth.

Running around them, I saw “Liberty Tunnels” emblazoned on the lintel. They were vents for the Tubes. A little digging revealed that these are the original ones, built 96 years ago after a traffic jam on May 10, 1924 caused motorists to get sick from carbon monoxide fumes. The Pittsburgh Quarterly has a great article about it. They had been planned anyway, but the May incident hurried those plans along.

Now my journey took me to Paur Street; that’s right “Paur” not “Paul”. At the end of Paur Street are a set of stairs with the touch of death – bar across them indicating they were closed. It was easy to get over. The steps were generally in great shape, except a couple of places where the concrete treads were totally missing. They were also fairly wide and took me to an asphalt path under the spreading trees.

One section, presumably going down to the South Hill’s trolley lines, was seriously closed; blocked by a chain link fence and missing platform. Apparently, in the ‘good ole days’, Brookline kids used these steps to get to school, as told in Brookline Connections.

On the right, the asphalt path continued. I dodged fallen trees and passed an old metal cabinet. Its slightly ajar door revealed a new, bright orange bag of Reese’s Pieces. Just then, I was startled by a man coming down steps towards me. In his short sleeve, light blue dress shirt and black pants he quickly bore left and went down another section of steps, ignoring me completely. The smell of his cigarette lingered, though, as I went down those steps far behind him. At the bottom, I looked up and saw a “No Trespassing Sign”. Whoops! I returned up the steps, retracing the man’s steps which led me to the intersection of Westwood Street and Albert Street.

Further down Westwood Street, I eventually came the Walden Street steps. Here, they are narrow, wooden and very overgrown. Cutting down an alley, I came upon Tuscola Street, with disintegrating sidewalk steps, also overgrown. Several streets off of Westwood, such as Kramer head straight up to Boggs Avenue. A high section of Albert Street near Boggs Avenue yields more distant views of the venting towers.

As you go south, the streets off of Boggs Avenue get shorter and shorter and more steeply fall on the end. Several of them have steps to South Hills Junction, where the South Busway and South Hills T line intersect.

For a moment, I ventured past Boggs, catching the Soffet Steps. However, my secret hope that they went all the way to Warrington Avenue was dashed and I had to backtrack. Along the way, I did come across this yard, complete with red table, Triceratops skeleton and Christmas lights strung along the fence.

Finishing up, I was tired, but pleased with this eight mile jaunt. The run was more interesting than I expected and I got to see those venting towers up close and personal.