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

Old Upper Lawrenceville and Spring Garden Sidestreets

Once again, you get two May runs in this blog. The first, RATS run #00405, was on a gray day in Upper Lawrenceville. The second, RATS run #00406, was on a cool, but sunny, day in Spring Garden.


https://www.strava.com/activities/5254142747
RATS run #00405 in Upper Lawrenceville

51st Street, Berlin Way and Harrison Street were the objects of my footfalls on this Thursday evening. It was relatively flat, except the jaunt up to Bissel Way, with its little surprise.

Cavacini Landscaping was bursting with flowers and shrubs ready for planting. I’ve rarely been on this section of 51st Street in daylight, so this was a surprise for me. (Spirit, up the street, is a popular nighttime music venue.) Further towards the Allegheny, 51st Street crosses old railroad tracks and ends at a power line tower.

From here I scuttled past the Goodwill Building and onto Berlin Way. It is only a block from Butler Street and you can see murals on the back walls of Butler Street businesses.

But Berlin Way isn’t free end-to-end. Portions of it run afoul of chain link fences and nondescript buildings. However, Adelman’s Lumber looks cool, as did the sun setting way down a 55th Street alley.

Finally caught the end of Bissel Way and found this rusted monolith stretching to the next hillside. What is it? A lost railroad spur? A preemptive retaining wall with nothing to retain? I don’t know.

That was it. Three miles on a Thursday evening.


https://www.strava.com/activities/5263913969
RATS Run #00406 in Spring Garden

RATS run #00406 was my Saturday long run. I mainly focused on side-streets off of Spring Garden Avenue and then touched a couple of other missed streets as I rounded out the run in Perry Hilltop, California-Kirkbride and Allegheny West.

I started with a little detour up some steps to Salter Way. It looked like the yellow handrail has gotten hit by a car. Nonetheless, Salter Way is a short alley dead-ending into the hillside. Several houses are boarded up, and they even have guards. Cat guards, that it is. This no-nonsense kitty strode right up to me and, after shout-meowing at me, escorted me off the street.

The Welcome to Spring Garden sign is a bit of a ruse, I think. I don’t find it a very welcoming area, but perhaps it is just claustrophobia from the towering hills and overwhelming vegetation. I do get a kick out of the clock at the back wall there. Don’t stay too long!

Further on Spring Garden Avenue, I kept branching off onto the little streets, which tiredly run out of asphalt and just end. Some spots have several little streets with houses huddled together.

St. Peters United Church of Christ was pretty cool looking. About that point in the run, two little girls, bundled against the cold, decided to race me up Spring Garden Avenue. I was able to dodge into Giddy Way before they could catch up. Must say, I find Spring Garden Avenue dangerous to run on, much less ride a bike.

The turn onto Baun looked promising, but a half-dozen “No Trespassing” signs and “Beware of Dogs” signs later, I decided to cut it short.

So, away I went. Up towering Willams Road into Spring View/City View. I was lucky enough to find a shortcut to the top of Donora and was rewarded with a sweeping view.

Donora Street

From here, I wandered to the end of Hazlett Street and the curious little cul-de-sac, Boyer Street. Par for the course, Boyer actually is continuous, but someone keeps their car parked in the middle. Remnants of previous businesses still stand. Eventually I made it all the way down to Vista Street steps. There is a nice mosaic at the bottom, but the $600,000 step reconstruction is still not open. Is it just that the handrail is missing?

I used Milroy Street to cut through to Perry Hilltop. Those are some astounding steps which remain open, in spite of their flaws. As I approached several turkeys clucked their way out of sight while an old sad house came in sight. “Condemned”, said the blue sign of death.

Continuing my circuitous route, I caught the end of Hawkins Street, as it plunges toward Highwood Cemetery. Luckily there are steps there, too, so going back up wasn’t too bad. Eventually I made it to Riversea Road, a little inlet off of Brighton. By now, I was eager to finish up but got caught in the narrowing trap of West Park’s construction. Luckily, a little pedestrian bridge was available to cross.

Traipsing through Children’s Way and Allegheny Center, I found my way back to my starting point, a good 14 miles done.

Sunset Run To City Views

https://www.strava.com/activities/4287269570

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.

Gershon Street

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.

Back to Spring Hill

https://www.strava.com/activities/3933510095
Route for RATS #00282

Early on in my journey to run all the streets of Pittsburgh, I ran several times in Spring Hill, including a pre-dawn, rainy run described in “Running Before the Storm”. Since then, I’ve spread my wings and run all over Pittsburgh. But still, Spring Hill, with its weave of steps and hills is a charming, challenging place to run and there are streets I haven’t completed. This night’s run was to fill in some of those streets.

Right off the bat, I crossed Roethlein Way, half stairs, half pavement. Then I explored High Street, which isn’t the highest. I truthfully ran on “Old Honesty Street” (love that name), as it took me from Spring Garden Avenue to Firth Street. Can you imagine being in 1st grade and having to answer in front of the class where you live?

While most of the houses here are small, narrow affairs, this larger house near the Arcola Way steps is pretty impressive, in spite of needing a paint job. Speaking of Arcola Way steps, they are long and steep, rising to Itin Street, about 100 feet up.

But, I’m getting ahead of myself. After running to both dead-ends of Firth Street (hmm), I started up Holmes Street, then made a quick turn onto Diana Street. As in so many places in Spring Hill, this is a stairs to pavement intersection. A few years back the end of Diana Street was literally sliding into a ravine. The city did a good job and shored that up. Great views from the end of Diana Street.

It is cool to run up here. There is so much to see. Each street seems to be its own world, hidden from above and below. A number of houses have either fallen down or been demolished, with the only reminders ghost steps and old retaining walls. The small streets are not for the faint of heart, like that sharp intersection of Diana and Itin.

These murals caught my eye. The driver looks cool, but must be English, driving on that side of the car. It’s really tucked away, on Haslage, I believe.

Cats abound here, taking full advantage of nooks and crannies to live and friendly folks who feed them.

And then, the stairs. I’ve already talked about Roethlein and Arcola Way. Hunnel Street is sometimes a paved road and sometimes a cattywumpus flight of wooden steps. Stein Street is also a step, street combo, but straightened out a bit.

This throwback run was fun. It might not be the most ‘runnable’ section of town, but it certainly has plenty of views and character.