Deserted Berg and a Great Gate

RATS Run #00445 Bookending Carrick

This was my first big run of September, 2021. I choose to go back to Carrick. My favorite way to get to Carrick is to drive up the winding Beck’s Run Road and park along Brownsville Road not far from the Dunkin Donuts. That way, I can easily treat myself after a long run. It also has the benefits that many of Carrick’s one BILLION streets are within striking distance.

My first street was Berg Place. I have run past it several times, just tiredly looking at it as a little driveway. Today, I decided to just see how far that driveway went. It didn’t go far. I was amazed how run down it was. While I wouldn’t call this area of town “pristine”, most of the homes here are occupied and in decent shape, perhaps needing a little work. Berg Place, on the other hand was a disaster area. Several apartment buildings lined two driveways. There are at least 20 apartment units among three or four buildings and a line of garages. I imagine at one time they were all full of families. In fact, Google’s Streetview from 2007 shows neat apartment buildings. Now however, weeds grow through the asphalt and vines climb the building. Balconies without railings cascade down buildings while the dark eyes of broken windows stare on.

I did some research and it seems this level of neglect is the direct result of a bad landlord. Perhaps slumlord is a better name. According to a 2015 Post-Gazette article he did such cool things as surreptitiously running a hose from a neighboring property to supply water for his tenants, mostly Bhutanese refugees. (I personally didn’t know that Pittsburgh even had a Bhutanese community.) Can you imagine getting water on the third floor from a hose at ground level? That’s pretty bad. I’m not sure what has happened since, legally, but there were plans for the URA to take over the properties. Sigh, they seem to take forever to redevelop properties.

Moving on from Berg Place, I swept up Spencer Avenue with its classic Pittsburgh four-square houses. I hopped over to Rhoad Avenue, where the dead-end evidently continues beyond the gate. Skipping over to Novel Way, I scooted past the German Shepard at the corner and went as far down Novel as I thought feasible. Perhaps there’s an epilogue past that shady spot, but Novel Way looks finished at that point.

Jumping down Makery Way, I set out to find Gilboa Way and Wendelin Way. As alleys go, Wendelin Way is bright and open, even though its on the low end of a cemetery. There seems to be a slight misspelling on the street sign, as Maggie Ess pointed out. Maggie had been walking all the streets of Pittsburgh and finished a few weeks ago.

Calvert Street is one of those Pittsburgh streets which can only be accessed through Baldwin. It was a great neighborhood. I mean, there are CAT people there!

Coming back into Pittsburgh along Agnew Road, I cleaned up along Beck’s Run Run where the patriotic car wash was packed. Cursing the lack of sidewalks on that curvy, dangerous section of Beck’s Run Road, I eventually topped out on Brownsville Road.

I was about halfway done and resisted the urge to grab a doughnut before continuing to Parkfield Street. As I turned from Parkfield to the elusive end of Riota Way, a gardener on the corner made sure I knew Riota was a dead-end. I chatted with her briefly about my project and got motherly warnings about going down Parkfield. “It’s so steep and the cars fly up the hill! Be careful!” Pittsburghers are so nice. BTW, that’s great advice if you are ever running on Parkfield Street. Stay close to the curb and keep a sharp eye out for zooming cars. Dressing in blaze orange might help, too.

Once safely down to Saw Mill Run Boulevard, I scooted across to Ansonia Way. Ansonia Way is blocked off for cars, but is fine for pedestrians. It goes all the way the the T embankment where it becomes Midwood Street. At one end is a T Station. Returning to Saw Mill Run Blvd is easy with the Midwood Steps to cross Saw Mill Run creek.

Once up on Saw Mill Run, I made my way to Whited and the little Ballinger Street. Ballinger is another of Pittsburgh’s split personality streets. There are two disjoint sections with the same name. I suppose they connected at some point. Now, one leads you right to rail road tracks. Luckily there’s a gate, or someone might get hurt.

Safety Gate

This pretty much finished up my planned route, so I clambered up Colerain Street again, circling the playing field once for fun. Yet another steep street.

Splashing in Spring Garden

RATS #00442 – Spring Garden and Troy Hill

Spring Garden seems to summon the rain. For this run, RATS #00442, I was prepared. I brought a zip-lock bag for my phone just in case, but for a few minutes thought I wouldn’t need it.

I parked on Herr’s Island under the 31st Street Bridge and romped past the tennis courts to the northern end. I could see far-away thunderstorms, but here there were only a few drops. The Rialto Street steps were under construction, so I had to go the long way along the “trail” next to Route 28 and ascend Troy Hill Road. On this roundabout way to Rialto Street I ran by E&C Beer Distributor with its grinning horse. I wonder, did he get a glug-glug of apple cider? Rialto continues off its famous slope into the heart of Troy Hill, where I ran past this house built around 1880.

Mt. Troy Road and Luty Avenue have broad views of Pittsburgh. I believe that’s Lower Lawrenceville and Polish Hill getting rained on. Luty Avenue ended unceremoniously in a weird little hut structure.

Now, a more rational person (probably not a runner) might have thought, “Wow, look at those storms. I should go inside, because it will probably rain here soon.”

My inner dialog was more like “Look at all that rain WAY OVER THERE. It’s probably not going to rain on ME. Besides…how wet could I get?” ( I said these same words earlier this summer and apparently didn’t learn how much clouds hate that.) Coming off of Mt. Troy Road, I sped down Wicklines Street, using the momentum to carry me across Spring Garden Avenue onto High Street. And that’s where it began. A burst of thunder, kids and parents scrambling to get out of the rain, and me, happily running along Spring Garden Avenue.

The rain was pretty heavy, but seemed to taper off as I approached the safe haven of Family Dollar. Since the rain was stopping, I went ahead and slogged up the very steep Mauch Street. It climbs about 100′ in well under one tenth of a mile and Strava shows it with a 43.7% grade! Hmm, that seems dubious.

Nonetheless, I proceeded onto another section of Mt. Troy Road where a curve dips into Pittsburgh briefly. The rain intensified. I thought there might be a place to duck in for a moment. But no, lightning bolts and bursts of thunder surrounded me and there was no place to hide. I sloshed to Fornof Lane and back to Mauch. Finally the rain tapered off. I had planned to go further north along Spring Garden Avenue, but cut things short, heading back down instead. The back-yard ducks seemed pretty happy, though.

As I neared Threadbare Cider, my sense of adventure returned and I explored Tell Street. In days of yore, cats ruled this street. Nearby, someone had even constructed a home for wayward cats; patriotically painted with stars and stripes. I didn’t see the cat house nor the cats this time. A house at the bottom of Tell Street was being renovated, but the houses higher on the hill are digressing, with broken windows and climbing vines.

There’s a gentle set of steps from Tell to Voskamp above. Vines arch between fences, making a tunnel of lovely green. There’s a shy old yellow house on Voskamp Street, keeping back from the street.

I returned to Herr’s Island along the pedestrian trail waterway adjacent to Route 28. Just a pitter-patter of rain now, but the hills were still streaming with water.

Flooded Pedestrian Trail Along Route 28

Short August Runs

Here are a few short runs from August.


RATS #00438 – California-Kirkbride and Marshall-Shadeland

Here’s a little Sunday funday runday. Fivish miles in California-Kirkbride and Marshall-Shadeland. With the bulk of the streets done, it was more about going down back alleys than an expansive opening of an area. Accordingly, while starting in Allegheny West, I made my way up California Avenue. Flowers at the corner of Marshall Avenue and California Avenue were as bright as the day.

Moving up Superior Street, I took a side trip on Seiffert Way to Thelma Way. On Google Maps, it looks like Thelma Way goes through. It doesn’t. Rather it ends in a tangle of weeds and branches. Seiffert Way and Ludene Way were as advertised; short, dead-end alleys. I wonder how many times I’ve used ‘dead-end’ in this blog. At least a thousand. Next stop was Bland Street. How Bland was it?

Really Really Bland

Pushing forward through the myopic, dystopic fog, I came to a ballfield and Unit 56, waiting for orders. Unit 56 looks a little forlorn. Has the Mothership abandoned it? Did no one pick it for the team? How long has it been sitting there, with weeds growing into its brain?

It was all downhill from here, though I had an AMAZING time!


RATS #00439 into Duck Hollow

This run was even shorter than the last. I just wanted to complete a couple of streets in Duck Hollow. Rather late one Tuesday evening I made my way there via a bike trail below Summerset. Trails go off the main one into old slag heaps, although this one was apparently closed.

Duck Hollow has four streets and maybe twenty houses. It is at the confluence of Nine-Mile Run and the Monongahela River. After some research I found a nice Pitt News article about it. Surprisingly enough, I sometimes run with Mike Portogallo whom they interviewed. Small world.

I do have some news! McFarren Street has been rerouted over a new bridge. Perhaps now Duck Hollow residents can get deliveries to their door. My pictures of the Hollow, itself, came out rather fuzzy between my running and the dusky light.

I went in on the new bridge and came out on the old, open grate bridge. The railroad trestle is striking in the twilight.

Finally, I came out onto the parking lot above the Mon. Sure enough, folks of all shapes and sizes were hanging out, enjoying the evening. I enjoyed the view of the river and the Homestead High Level Bridge.

Homestead High Level Bridge

RATS #00440 in Brookline

Another short, evening run; this time in Brookline. July Way, Harex Way and Tariff Way were my goals. July and Harex I got, but Tariff Way continues to frustrate me.

There’s a street sign on Sussex Avenue at it’s intersection with Tariff. I dutifully did that little driveway section which, incidentally, doesn’t even show up on CityStrides or Google Maps. Meanwhile the other section of Tariff Way, off of Thistle Street, goes about twenty yards before arriving at a broad expanse of lawn. I suppose I need to go across the lawn and have a beer at the neighbors for CityStrides to recognize it. Argh!

At any rate, it was a decent little run on a hot summer’s evening. I even got to do the Stebbins Steps, again.


RATS #00441 in Greenfield

This is a Greenfield Re-Run. I was retracing a route which CityStrides hadn’t picked up. While that was initially a bit annoying, it turned out to be a good run with some amazing views. I love this one from the corner of Lydia and Bigelow.

From there I wrapped around a couple of alleys, some which dropped me into backyards, some of which allowed me passage. The grapevine arbor was pretty cool.

Eventually I found my way to Tasso Street, which has two distinct sections joined by the Noah Street steps and the Bud Hammer baseball field. The home team must have won, as heavenly beams of light shone down on the field.

And that was all, 4ish miles on a hot August evening. My watch recorded over 600 feet of elevation in this run. Not sure I believe that.


So, there are a few more runs in August I haven’t recorded here. I’ll get to those in the next blog. Thanks for reading along.

Hail to Pitt!

RATS #00437 from Swisshelm Park to West Oakland

So, this was a rather ambitious run from Swisshelm Park, aka “The Land Beyond Frick Park” to the high reaches of the University of Pittsburgh. Going through Frick, one of my favorite routes is along Nine-Mile Run. It has been significantly cleaned up, but I still wouldn’t splash around in it. In a heavy rain, the upstream sewage systems in sections of Pittsburgh, Wilkinsburg, Edgewood and other communities tends to overflow into the drainage system, which, of course, flows through here.

Nine-Mile Run in Lower Frick

From there, I continued through Squirrel Hill into the Land of the Universities. CMU continues to build like a beaver. It is a place of learning, though, so good advice is everywhere. This wouldn’t be the last crane I saw.

Flossie Way was one of my target “streets”. It’s actually just a little alley in Oakland. ROTC students were gathered in the parking lot, doing drills. Beyond the asphalt was a green drainage swale, to slow runoff before it hits places like Frick Park. (Though that water would never go through that park, it’s already downstream.)

Coming into Pitt’s Upper Campus, I needed to complete “Benedum Square”. It’s a cozy little courtyard in which the engineering students can decompress. One, apparently had worked too hard for so long that he was just a shell of his former self. In seven years or so, I might see his offspring.

Moving up, I got a glimpse of the deconstruction of the Learning Research and Development Building. It’s not often that a building is taken down piece by piece. Further up the hill, I got some close-up views of WQED’s tower. More chances to look up!

I spent some time running in and out of the streets at the top of the hill. The Veteran’s Administration has a big shiny building there. Beyond Pitt’s sparkling athletic fields you can see downtown.

After dodging students moving in, I made my way past the Peterson Event Center. The steps provide a shortcut from the winding roads.

With that I made my way back to Frick Park. This was the first run in awhile and, by the time I got to Frick with 13 miles done, I was pretty beat.

Pittsburgh Developments

Here are two short July runs chipping away at the block of incomplete streets. The first was in Hazelwood Green. The second on the North Side.


RATS Run #00433 in Hazelwood Green

This run was just a couple of miles in a rapidly developing area. “Hazelwood Green” now sits where the Hazelwood Coke Works once stood. Where once molten steel was poured, cooled and pounded, is a broad field of flowers. The superstructure of Mill 19 still stands and is being re-purposed for advanced manufacturing.

With re-development, new streets are popping up. When I thought of this project, Hazelwood Green was just an idea on a whiteboard. Before long, Blair Street was opened and little else. Now Lytle Street and Beehive Street have emerged.

Lytle Street took me from one end of Mill 19 to the other. Bright yellow gantries still stand, even outside the finished offices, while the unfinished area stretches a tenth of a mile under rusty steel girders.

Beehive Street goes to the now-defunct part of Second Avenue. I would imagine that that will be re-opened soon, too. It’s too early to tell whether the Rutherglen Street Footbridge will ever be re-opened. It was closed off when I ran by. From this broad curve on the banks of the Monongahela, you can see downtown. However, smoke from western wildfires muted the skyline that day.

That was it, two-ish miles.


RATS Run #00434 in the Strip District and North Side

This was a “busted play”. I had arrived at a City of Bridges group run too late to join in. So, I basically did the same route, but veered off to finish off a couple of streets, primarily North Canal.

Old map showing North Canal Street

Speaking of North Canal, I was fortunate enough to see an old real-estate atlas of Pittsburgh. Sure enough, before the massive I-279, Route 28, Veteran’s Bridge interchange was constructed, North Canal went continuously along the north side of a railroad trestle. South Canal was on the Pittsburgh side of the tracks. Nowadays, North Canal is interrupted by the highways. One section comes off of East Street to the North Side Giant Eagle. Another, disjoint section, lives on as a driveway into the Sarah Heinz House parking lot.

On my way to North Canal Street, I crossed the 16th Street Bridge. As it rises out of the Strip District, you can see some of the condo’s being constructed there. Those brick condos are going from $525K. I wonder if they realized the ones across the street would block their view of the Allegheny.

I caught up with the advertised route after finding the elusive “6” along Lacock Street. From there it was around the point and back to Lawrenceville, where beer and friends awaited.

Wish you were here

RATS #00432, Lawrenceville, Polish Hill, Troy Hill

RATS run #00432 covered a lot of ground, from Bloomfield/ Lower Lawrenceville through Polish Hill, into Troy Hill and the edge of Reserve Township. I started around noon with a leisurely Type-B pace which contrasted with the rigorous Type-A route I was following.

Foster Way, an alley off of the alley Obregon Way, was my first stop. Then it was on to the downside end of Lodi Way. Turning onto Lodi Way, I felt eyes upon me and hurried past.

My next stop was a section of Clement Way, between transformers and a ball field. It is funny how I rarely notice power substations, in spite of their size. I like the way the “Business Exchange” building stands out; perhaps it is the sandy color contrasting with the stormy clouds behind it. Also, do you think there are enough power lines there?

“Spray Paint on Corrugated Steel” could be an art installation decrying the gentrification of street art, but of course its not. It’s just graffiti. The back of that apartment complex on Clement Way was surprisingly ratty. With the booming real-estate market in Lawrenceville, I figured they would at least clean the building.

Moving on, I looped back and crossed the Bloomfield Bridge to come out on Oscar Way. I think the Grouch would be happy here, collecting garbage from those steps. Speaking of steps (and graffiti), I took the Finland Street steps across Bigelow Boulevard and was kinda impressed with this piece of street art. I took it as a “Oh no, I’m 40!” message. Undoubtedly, it means something else.

From here, my path took me down Ridgeway Street, with Leander being my eventual goal. I hadn’t done a huge amount of research, so wasn’t sure exactly what would be waiting for me on Leander. Turns out, it was just another Pittsburgh street, clinging to the hillside and going nowhere. I was actually surprised how well-kept the houses were. That gray shed caught my eye, with its small extra door cut in the big door, with a sign “Low Clearance”! What? Why not just use the big door? I suppose there are reasons…

Luckily for me, I had an escape route from Leander and didn’t have to go all the way back to Herron. The 30th Street Steps took me down to Bigelow. Further down, a section of the same steps are blocked off at Paulowna.

Speaking of Paulowna, it lead me right past the pool at the West Penn Community Recreation Center. For some reason, I had always called that the “Polish Hill Recreation Center”, but I stand corrected. The pool wasn’t open and not even filled with water, which was a shame, because a dip in the pool would have felt great. But the driveway to the pool was a red-herring. I needed to take the lower path which took me past a ball field, with a game in progress. This was actually a fortunate find, as I needed to do Kenny Way, the alley on the other side. I often have concerns about the safety of dead-end alleys, but, so far, its always been OK. This one did narrow after Harran Street, but continued above back-yards only to pop-out in the parking lot of Mt. Horran Baptist Church. The back end of Brereton took my down into the Strip District.

Now I made my way across the 31st Street Bridge. Downtown was obscured by a thundershower. However, once I realized that showers were upstream as well, I put away my phone and took no more pictures.

That was a wise move, but it didn’t really start raining in earnest until I had powered up Rialto and was on the far side of Troy Hill. By the way, the words “Just how wet can I get?” apparently angers storm clouds. They just try harder. Coming down the Wicklines River, I made a left on Spring Garden Creek then up Lager Falls. The knotweed made a nice canopy on Wet Purse Way, but eventually I had to get going again. I splashed through a few more Troy Hill streets and squished my way back to Liberty Avenue via the 40th Street Bridge, passing a wet band in the Millvale Riverfront Park en route.

Summer Evening Showers in the East

RATS #00428 in Regent Square, Park Place and Point Breeze

This run, #00428, was longer than average, but captured only a few streets. That seems to be the case more and more, as I go back over an area just to finish an alley here, a forgotten street there. At any rate, nothing wrong with run on a summer evening, cooled just slightly by showers.

I started out seeking the very end of Macon Avenue, that very end which slips out of Swissvale and punctures the Pittsburgh border. I found it at the bottom of a hill as I hurtled towards Frick Park. Coming back up, I got to enjoy Regent Square. Many of the roads are bricks, wavy as they freeze and thaw throughout the years. Nonetheless, the houses are cool and this Little Library was as well. It looks to be a modern design with a green roof. “Alpha Bakery”caught my eye, while “You Have to F##cking Eat”(with lemurs’ tails strategically placed) sent me away laughing.

Moving on, I went past Construction Junction to conquer Thomas Street. That’s right, “street”. Thomas Boulevard is well-known, but Thomas Street is just a little alley/ parking lot drive connecting both parts of the Boulevard, the Braddock Avenue side with the Fifth Avenue side. I daresay I’d never been there before. Large industrial buildings stretched to the East Busway.

From here, I cut through Meade Street to get to Wren Way. I love the pedestrian-only shortcut, but Wren Way was a nondescript garage alley.

From here I ventured a bit into Homewood. At this point, a few quick showers thoroughly doused me. I expected them to continue, but the setting sun quickly came out again. Eastview Street, surprisingly, had a garden at its end.

Now I stepped down a few alleys off of Hamilton, as the sun started to peek under the clouds. Yum, BBQ! That took me back to 5th Avenue, where I wiggled through a number of small streets in search of forgotten cul-de-sacs.

Most of these cul-de-sacs were early incarnations of the idea, as they are small turnarounds, not the grand circles you see today. These houses caught my eye, from the plain brown one to the spectacular modern one, hidden behind a green wall. I love the turreted blue one, too.

Finally, I trekked through Frick Park, returning to Regent Square. In the dusky trails I saw a family of deer, including this buck. They didn’t pay too much attention to me.

Buck in Frick

Clocking In

RATS Run #00427 Stretching From Banksville Road to the Liberty Tubes

This run covered lots of miles, 7.79 to be exact and lots of territory, but only a few new streets. It’s a good thing I like to run around Pittsburgh! Anyway, I started in the heart of Beechview, along Broadway Avenue. It’s similar to, but a little different than the Broadway of theatrical fame.

Right off the bat, I descended steeply along Boustead Street and took in part of Hillgrove Avenue. At the fork, each road looked like a narrow driveway and I returned to Boustead. Of course, I should have actually taken both tines.

From here, I stepped down Wentzell Avenue and crossed Banksville Road, exploring Jessie Street. It’s a little dead-end with two turns rising off of Banksville. I didn’t find anyone like Jessie’s girl but I did find a house which looks like it fell out of the sky.

Returning across Banksville Road, I came up the Potomac Avenue steps and made the left onto Bellingham en route to Durham and Dalemount, two small lanes shooting up the hill. They were nice.

On the other hand, Denlin Street, often mistaken for a parking lot driveway, was rather scrappy. It just goes behind some businesses along Banksville and below a few houses on the hill. While this handicap ramp is amazing, I feel rather bad for anyone who actually has to use it. It must add a half a mile to their walk to the mailbox. While the white house has the blue kiss of death on it, the lounge chairs seem to be enjoying themselves.

From here, I ascended the Beechview hill again en route to Bazore Street. I got a kick out of the “No Outlet” sign next to all those electrical transformers.

All that Power, but No Outlet

Moving on, I traipsed down West Liberty Avenue, passing many car dealerships. Going up the Peola Steps took me to Texdale Street, which I had previously neglected. Once again I got to run the beautiful, winding streets of Beechview, hopping along to Frog Way. It was a much bigger Frog than I had expected. However, it made sense, as houses on Ringwalt Street below didn’t have anywhere to park in front, so with Frog Way behind, they could park there.

Again I sped down West Liberty Avenue. This time I went all the way the the entrance of the Liberty Tubes. Once upon a time, there was a sidewalk through the tunnel. But then, as lanes were expanded the sidewalk was removed. Perhaps it’s for the best anyway; with all the car fumes, it would be a really long way to go on foot. The “Traffic Grade Separation” plaque is on the retaining wall as West Liberty curves under a bus lane. It must have been an important project, look at all those politicians’ names! Rankin, Herron, Woodside; all of these have streets named after them now.

Just past the “Traffic Grade Separation” project, I came to “Clocks and Antiques”, a store that has always caught my eye. I got to spend a few minutes gawking through the dusty window. Grandfather clocks, mantel clocks, wooden clocks and porcelain clocks, this store has them all. My Dad used to walk into a clock store, look around and declare “None of these are working!” since they all had different times on them. This place is no exception. Ironically enough they have a little “I’ll be back” sign with the manual clock hands instead of some mechanical timer.

Speaking of time, it was time to get back to my car. After bushwhacking my way through the weeds along West Liberty Avenue, I went up the 150 foot, 10 degree slope of Woodside Avenue and sauntered over to Broadway. Maybe I could catch a show.