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!

No Starch and I’m Not Lion

RATS Run #00461

This run was the second RATS run of the day, the earlier one being a little over 3 miles in New Homestead, described in my last post. For this run, my intention was to get to the bottom of Starch Street and the top of William Street.

Of course by “bottom of”, I’m thinking “the bottom of the story”, rather than the lowest elevation. Starch Street is purportedly at the end of Excelsior Street. I had been down Excelsior before, but stopped at the Jersey barriers at the end. Today I wanted to see how far it went “Beyond the Barrier”. I trotted up McClain and then took the quick right, left combo onto the end of Excelsior. At that point, the asphalt gave way to brick. There were a couple of cars parked there and then the barriers. I hopped over them and went a few feet. The road disappeared into a mass of vegetation. I pressed on. Maybe just past these bushes? But no, I just disturbed a deer, who noisily clambered down the slope. Perhaps in the dead of winter there’s a path. Perhaps a pith helmet and machete are required, but I’m considering this one inaccessible.

I turned back up Excelsior and found the Emerald Street Steps, which conveniently led me down to Arlington. I think Arlington is a cool street. It twists and turns, decorated with streetcar tracks and overhead wires. As it slinks down the hill, a few small streets shoot off uphill to the left or downhill to the right.

William Street was one of those going up to the left. In 2018, mudslides caused the street to be closed. They’ve made some major improvements to it, but parts are still eroding off the hillside. Cars can’t drive through anymore. On foot, however, I was able to skirt the falling hillside and emerge onto Bailey Avenue.

From here, I crossed over Mount Washington, taking Boggs down to the end of West Warrington Avenue. (I had missed that intersection in my previous travels.) I came back up the hill on Southern Avenue. Here the houses are all perched on precarious hillsides with guard dogs, and, in this case, a guard lion. Looks like he’s on the tomb of the last trespasser.

I made my way through Emerald View Park back to my car. The views here were outstanding, especially on this sunny Saturday.

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

https://www.strava.com/activities/4433833694
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

https://www.strava.com/activities/4439460584
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

https://www.strava.com/activities/4182507915
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

https://www.strava.com/activities/3679982962
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.