Right now, the sunny September days are getting shorter and Steeler season is kicking off. Puffy cumulus clouds are punctured by fighter jets in formation screaming over the stadium. But last December, I had extra vacation days and took them off to run. This run, RATS #00487, was on Monday afternoon, December 27th. For late December, the weather was pretty good, around 40 and humid.
I parked in the Allegheny Cleanways parking lot on North Charles and proceeded to knock off McIntyre Place, a little hook of a road at the end of West McIntyre, filled with small brick houses, neat and tidy. Kenwood Avenue intersects McIntyre and continues up the hill as steps. I had already completed them, so it was back to North Charles.
Making a right onto North Charles, I had the pleasure of tromping over the Swinburne Bridge. It is high over I-279 and looks down into the city. Yeah, that’s early afternoon in December. It looks more like a gray morning.
Circling around a cluster of horribly named streets, Sunset Avenue, South Side Avenue and Entrance Street, I came to Hobbs Street. I’d been here before, but somehow missed the cross-street at the top, Norris Street. This time, I made sure to do it. On the way down, I was greeted once again by the spectacular views.
I took a left at the bottom and proceeded up to Marathon Street. It would really be cool if the Pittsburgh Marathon came up here, but I’m guessing runners would not be too happy about climbing 500 feet from the Point.
Climbing down from the Marathon high, I passed the ballfields on Romanhoff. I needed to revisit Beckfield Street and Zell Way. These are all tiny streets which don’t have the will to live. Instead they simper out under vigorous weeds and broken asphalt, making liars of old maps.
However, it is a cute neighborhood with breathtaking views.
From here, I climbed and fell to Frontier Street, a boldly named swath of grass off of Hunnel Street. Why it has a new brilliant blue street sign is beyond me.
I started back and scooted through St. John’s Lutheran Cemetery as a shortcut to Lappe Lane (the upper section). This was quite a billy-goat run.
Here are two runs I did on December 12, 2021. The first was to the end of Tinsley Way, in Squirrel Hill and the other was to complete a section of Baldwin Road.
This was only 1.9 miles of Squirrel Hill exploring. I parked on Beechwood Blvd and quickly made my way to the end of Tinsley. Since that was less than 1/4 of a mile, I decided to make another attempt at “officially” completing North Woodland Road, a private drive on Chatham’s campus. I continued past the Chatham Mansions and antique gas-lamps. However, it was to no avail. In the end, a high gate crossed the road and I could go no further.
On that Sunday afternoon, I ran again. The Steelers were not playing and the weather was cool and sunny. In a word, perfect. I started at the Waterfront across from Costco. I ran past Sandcastle’s empty slides along the bike path. However, when it got to Haysglen Street, I broke away from the bikers and made a left past Keystone Iron & Metal, with their piles of metal scrap and headed south along Baldwin Road.
This section of Baldwin Road slinks under the crazy West Carson Street intersection with 8th Avenue. Above, ramps go in all sorts of directions, but Baldwin Road tracks straight, past the paving company, the flag store and the Social Club. I don’t believe I saw one soul along that stretch.
Now, I had, on a previous run, done much of this area. However, I needed to go all the way out of the city to complete Baldwin Road, so on I went. Once you pass Ramp Street, the sidewalks disappear.
I liked the clean severity of this old building and thought Poljak Racing was a thing of the past. But I am mistaken. Apparently AJ Poljak is the points leader in the Penn Ohio Pro Stocks division racing at the Pennsylvania Motor Speedway. Click here for a link to their blog. Who knew?
Trundling along, keeping an eye out for cars, I took a detour to finish off Rand Street. My earlier run hadn’t gone all the way to the houses’ concrete apron as I did this time. By the time I got to Chapon’s Greenhouse, I was out of the city.
However, Baldwin Road winds so close to the Pittsburgh-Baldwin border, I continued another quarter mile to make sure. Turning around, I noticed this curious gorilla-worker, complete with lunch pail. On the way back, the sun was getting low in the sky and made the RR crossing signs appear on. No worries, no train crossed and I managed to avoid cars all the way back.
RATS #00481 was a little four miler last December when the skies were clear and the weather cool. Honestly, just a little cooler than it is today, about six months later. Anyway, I started up in Brighton Heights, parked at the Legion Park parklet. I thought I did a pretty good parking job, much better than the dude or dudess who crashed there earlier. After examining the crime scene for a few minutes, I trotted down Brighton Road.
I needed to find the end of Ribb Way. Oh? Never heard of it? Me neither. It’s off of Harbison Road and Rigel Street; basically a driveway overlooking Brighton Road far below. Be careful of parking here too, as the trees will drop a heavy ticket on you.
I continued down Brighton on my way to find Sheriff Street. That’s one of those I had missed several times before. Duh, I had kept going down obvious paths. Finally, I found it tucked behind the Circle K and leading to a loading dock. A loading dock for a company called “Stetson”. I think it’s totally appropriate for there to be a Stetson on the Sheriff, but it’s neither a hat nor a law-enforcement agent, just Cosmic Humor. This, apparently, is Stetson’s national headquarters. They’re in the “Convention Services” business.
Moving on, I revisited a little triad of streets; Plough, Tumbo and Toberg tucked off of Woodland and above Superior. Once upon a time, steps came off of Toberg and provided a short-cut to Woodland. With this run, I verified those steps are cut-off at the top. Tumbo just stops at some woods and Plough digs into a driveway. They do have cute views, though.
From here I made my way down to California Avenue on my way to Fenway. The cold air had its benefits as the vegetation had died back, giving me great views of industrial Pittsburgh.
I had been on Fenway before, but apparently hadn’t run the whole thing. Today I did. It wasn’t a walk in the park, more like a trot through trash. What a shame, it could be a beautiful spot.
From here, I made my way back to Legion Park. I did Hertzog Street on the way. December 2021 was relatively warm and this was the first of many runs that month.
Here are three runs to close out November 2021. RATS run #00478 was a little three miler in Arlington, Mt. Oliver and St. Clair, while #00479 was a seven miler in Crafton Heights and Elliott and #00480 was a four miler in Lincoln Place. All were designed to fill in ends of roads and alleys missed.
For RATS run #00478, I started high on the hill next to Arlington Playground. There is a small water park here and a ball field. A good batter might be forgiven if they think they could hit the ball downtown, it seems so close. Leaving the dreams of the field behind, I bounded down Mountain Avenue then made a sharp right onto Parkwood Road.
This section of Parkwood Road ascends a steep hill going into Pittsburgh’s Mt. Oliver. The left side has steep lots speckled with houses. The right side, where the sidewalk is, passes medium and small houses whose back yards drop off quickly. Once I got to Otilla, Parkwood had leveled off, 120 feet above its Mountain Avenue intersection.
Making the left onto Otilla Street, I sought out my first goal, Poco Way. This small alley goes behind five houses on St. Joseph Street and ends. Returning to Otilla, I made a left onto Walde Way en route to Farina Way. Like many of these later “streets”, Farina Way looked like a driveway at first. However, I was pleasantly surprised when it hooked up with Ignatious Way behind leaf-strewn yards. Ignatious intersects with Rectanwald Street and I took Rectanwald’s short flight of broad steps back to Walde.
From here, I scampered down to McManus as it travels behind an elementary school. Steps down, steps up and I was back on Mountain. I went up to Henger to complete a section I had missed. A Jersey barrier blocks the road, but residents have sprayed a message for drug dealers: “Go elsewhere…We Are Watching!”
They must have been listening, because there was no one there. I scampered over the barrier and continued on Henger to the fences. The fences enclose what was once St. Clair Village. From what I’ve read, it became a festering spot for crime and drugs and was subsequently torn down. That was years ago. It is still vacant. Some sections are now used by the Urban Hilltop Farm, but none of the housing has been rebuilt.
From here, I returned to Arlington Playground via Mountain Avenue. It was a rather satisfying run, what with the unexpected passage on Ignatious, clarifying Henger and Poco. Henger even gave me some souvenirs; seedlings stuck to my tights.
RATS run #00479 was a romp in the West. I started at Herschel Park, one of my favorites. I think it’s the unexpected view and the easy access, both getting to Herschel Park and running the western neighborhoods from it. Anyway, for this day, I had more dead-ends to explore. My first one was Coey Way off of Arnold. Coey Way is a rather tame alley which goes directly uphill, behind brick suburban houses to a parking spot.
Then it was off to Corso Way, less than a quarter mile away. However Corso Way seems to be in a different world. To get there, I took Obey Street as it steeply falls off toward Noblestown Road. Just past “Grimes Signs”, Magnus Way on the left, snakes uphill past a couple of houses. When it turns, Corso Way begins. Corso Way, goes about 1/4 mile into the woods. I ran down it, splashing through muddy ruts, six inches deep. At the end, a low slung house or trailer stood, with “Beware of dogs” signs, and a couple of cars parked in front.
I was happy to return out of that alley. I worked my way up Obey Street to Albia Way, just off of Steuban. That was an uneventful alley, mainly for garage access. Now, once I made it to Steuban, I made a left and continued down Middletown Road, looking for a cross-street, Woodlow. Alas, I had made a left when I should have gone right and I had to retrace my steps to find Woodlow.
Woodlow cuts from Steuban Street to Crucible Street through a large housing development in Carnegie Heights. It’s hard to tell if it is one big complex, or several smaller apartment complexes adjacent to each other. Now, rather than one house on the end of a muddy alley, like Corso Way, there were twenty or so multi-unit apartment buildings, where hundreds of people live.
I wrapped around Crucible to Dickens then made the right onto Meadowbrook Way. Much like Poco Way in the previous run, this just curved behind some houses and ended. I took a driveway at the back of Pittsburgh Classical Academy which put me out on Chartiers Avenue.
On an earlier run, later at night, I touched on little Elf Street, off of Chartiers. Today, I wanted to do the whole Elf, so again I tromped down Chartiers, past the grimy Marathon Gas, past Inner City Towing’s junk yard and past the muraled retaining wall. The right onto Nittany took me uphill. Large yards from adjacent streets converge on Nittany. They were kids playing and backyard picnic tables along the high-side of Nittany, where it curves and intersects Elf. Elf, itself, is very small; maybe twenty yards. At its end, a nice, large house sits.
Returning to Corliss Street, I now began my ascent of the back-end of the West End. Just before the Corliss Tunnel, Rupp Street on the right takes you to Danley. A two-hundred foot hill climb later and I came out on Mark Way. The road up, Lakewood Street, had nice views across Corliss Street to houses in Sheraden. There were also several house ruins along the way. From Mark Way I could make out the McKees Rocks Bridge through a break in the trees.
Now I kept to the high road; Lakewood to Lorenz to Valonia. I needed to finish off Lander Street. This section of Pittsburgh never ceases to amaze me, with the views and the houses stuck at crazy angles on the hillsides.
Lander Street, itself, is falling off the hillside. Part is blocked off and the hillside is encroaching on the houses.
From Lander Street I went down the Planet Street steps toward the West End. From South Main, you can see Walbridge Street splitting off with sidewalk steps on the right and a cool flight on the left (which takes you to Kerr Street). I took the sidewalk steps.
Almost back at Herschel Park, I just had East Chestnut to do. Once I found it, running the fifty yards to the end wasn’t too hard. And that was that, seven hilly miles and a many alleys done.
In Lincoln Place, RATS Run #00480 took me.
Longer to picture than to run, was Plaport Way, with its non-intersecting ends.
Cooley Way took me coolly beyond the pavement onto a grassy strip behind large yards.
But I earned it, a grand view of Lincoln Place from Commission Way.
So, in this abbreviated style, you’ll see that I started at McBride Park and did odds and ends of Lincoln Place. Please pray the Krampus doesn’t get me!
That’s all for November, 2021. Ten of my thirteen runs covered new streets on only 65 miles of running. Finishing these “streets” was becoming getting more and more tedious. Mostly, it is running to the ends of alleys or re-running street sections to make sure CityStrides picks it up. Nonetheless, I’m getting there.
For RATS run #00477, back in November, I started over in Schenley Park, near the swimming pool, closed for the season, or Covid, or lack of lifeguards. ( I can’t keep track of “why”.) As with most of these later runs, I was trying to iron out a few streets I had missed; Craft Place, Oak Hill Square, Crockett Way, Gazzam Street, among others.
Once I finished all 50 yards of Craft Place, I made my way towards Oak Hill Circle. Several more buildings are being added to this development. If you play your cards right, you can run through mud and see big machines here. I exited along Breckenridge Street and was surprised to find that the hillside had been cleared and replanted. I could now see some of Pitt’s white salt-domes from the street.
I crossed Centre and wandered up Wandless Street. That’s one of the unsung hills in Pittsburgh. Straight up. It’s usually a little busy at the bottom, where there’s a bus stop, but further up, ruins dot the hillside, foundations of former homes. There’s not even foundations left along Crockett Way. I was pleasantly surprised to see that this desolate street had been patched, at least for a bit. Beyond it’s intersection with Granite Street, Crockett runs right into a dense patch of very invasive Japanese Knotweed. I do have a picture of the end. If you really want to see it, email me.
Finishing Crockett, I blazed over Herron Avenue, up Milwaukee, and left onto Orion to see the Magnificent Carnak in person. Not quite as entertaining as I remember it on Carson, but luckily short, this end of Carnak Way goes behind houses on Webster. Orion, the connecting street between Milwaukee and Webster, has a large old school on the corner. The facade above the door looks like it has fire damage. There’s no lack of interesting architecture here.
Coming back via Webster, I made my way to another end of Shemp Way. This alley, paved with golden leaves, is even less used than Carnak. I passed a burnt out car on Junilla. Actually I passed it twice, but only noticed it once. It seemed out of place, as the rest of the street was rather wide open and neat. Making a left onto Webster, I continued towards downtown. A little rain had set in and the tall buildings looked so close.
I didn’t go all the way downtown, but crossed over to Burmah Way. This was, perhaps, my third try at this alley. Now I could see why, as it was a grassy path between buildings, not an actual thoroughfare (par for the course, sigh.) The far end came out on Green Street, a pedestrian walkway. Now it was time to return to my car, so I ran up Devilliers Street to Bentley en route to Nigh Way and High Way. You got it, Nigh Way and High Way, which do, indeed, intersect.
I got a little turned around and ended up on Diaz Way, as it dwindles to nothing. Realizing my mistake, I got back on the Bentley to Kirkpatrick Street. Just off to the left, Gazzam Street slipped into view. I ran up the curve as it twisted around the hill and abruptly ended in front of two houses. They have a decent view of the Birmingham Bridge, even though my picture doesn’t do it justice.
That was all the exploring I had in me that November day. Maybe later, steps into the woods!
I’m looking out my third floor window and low, scuttling clouds are throwing out splatters of rain. The heat is on again and it seems much more like November than May. So, digging back into yet-to-post archives, here are three November 2021 runs.
This was a very targeted run in Brighton Heights. Only four miles, I was trying to finish out the ends of small streets above Brighton Heights Park then follow Farragut to the Ohio. Friend, runner and storytelling extraordinaire, Rich, “BugayMan”, came with me on this Sunday morning adventure.
Steese Street was typical; a gravel driveway past a half built extension at the end of a dead-end street. It was high on the hill off of Benton Avenue and Lapish Street. Then adventures in dead-ends continued as I wandered down Haller hill with the twin streets/driveways of Dugan and Karwich off of it.
Making a right at the green house on Holler and Speck, we curved around the end of Edwin Street then made our way across Flora Street. Flora is pretty flat for this area. The back-windows of the homes must have great views. Transvaal Street dips back to Holler, where we caught steps down to Lapish Street. It was nice to see this in daylight; the last time I was here it was quite dark.
Crossing Benton Avenue at San Pedro, we made our way through this area, with its mysterious twists and turns popping out onto the busy Brighton Road. We trekked downhill towards the old Giant Eagle. Finally, dodging grocery traffic, we made the left onto Farragut Road.
A few weeks prior, I had considered doing this road in the late evening and I’m very happy to have reconsidered. It looks much better in the daylight. Farragut straddles the Pittsburgh-Bellevue border as it snakes down to the Ohio. There are a number of business down there, businesses which need lots of room; auto yards, trees services, landscaping companies.
An isolated house remains under the Jacks Run Bridge. It looks older than the bridge, but I’m surprised it wasn’t torn down during bridge construction.
Farragut dies out at an outflow pipe just before the Ohio River. I believe that that flat black rubber nozzle protruding from the pipe allows water out, but collapses, closing before river water can go back into the pipes. Railroads rule the remaining 100 yards to the river. Peeking out, I got a nice view of the McKees Rocks Bridge.
Lime Street has been a sore spot for me for awhile. There’s no feasible, safe, way to run to it. It’s off of Saw Mill Run Boulevard as folks accelerate to highway speeds. I drove there, anxious about getting rear-ending as I made the sharp right turn then abruptly parked.
I ran a tenth of a mile to the end of the street, ran back and hopped in my car. Sorry, no pictures. But if you’ve been following along, I think you can picture it. Tall narrow houses clinging to the hillside with lots of old cars parked out front.
This is the longest run of these three and served the same purpose; finishing up the ends of small streets I had missed and making sure I couldn’t go through such streets as Fercliffe or Elmbank, regardless what maps were telling me.
I parked in my favorite spot at Moore Park, then made my way to the end of Levitt Street. En route I re-ran Southcrest and Linda Drive. For some reason CityStrides calculated that I had missed Southcrest. This time, I ran right down the middle of the street. Levitt is at the end of Fallow, which overlooks Saw Mill Boulevard and the Bon-Air T Station. I think I had dog issues the last time I was on Levitt – in that a large German Shepard was running around unleashed. If I was as much a dog-whisperer as I am a cat-whisperer, this streets project would have been much quicker.
Anyway, with no dog incidents here, I returned to Pioneer Avenue. Mayville Avenue, Elmbank and Ferncliffe were my first stops. These streets plunge off Pioneer’s Golden Path. The bottoms are wet and woody.
Next up was the OTHER end of Elmbank and the major thoroughfares of Raeburn Way and Alumni Way. Completeness is a curse.
After Alumni, I circled Kenilworth and returned to Moore Park along Pioneer. Once again I passed this cool Little Free Library. You can find @cheesemeadowlfl on Instagram.
I’m really hoping NOT to have snow in June, but that seems to be the blogging trend here. Thanks for continuing to follow along.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.