elliot

RATS #00203 – Elliot and West End

A day after running around the city and taking every stair I could, I was ready for the flat lands; no hills, no steps, no views. I just wanted the horizon to disappear in front of me, an unreachable challenge. Then I woke up and remembered that I was living in Pittsburgh!

For today’s run, I decided to check out the neighborhood around West End Park. Last Fall, I had attended an outdoor fashion show in the West End, off of South Main Street on Sanctus Street. That area seemed flat and I figured this area would be similar, I mean how much can things change in a mile?

Turns out, a lot. I parked near West End Park and ran down Kerr Street. Immediately, I came upon a very impressive set of steps leading far down. Their siren’s song drew me in and shortly, I found myself at the bottom, looking way up. I would have to ascend that eventually, and for now, went up Walbridge Street.

This twisting, steep street has some remarkable houses perched on its edge. Branching off of Walbridge, several small streets transform you from an urban runner in Pittsburgh to a wandering soul in the back roads of West Virginia.

My run planning had just set general boundaries – don’t go past Steuban Street or Route 60; leaving the exact route up to life’s realities. So, I just went back and forth on small streets and alleys. As it was a nice Sunday morning, people were out and about. Many were working in their yards and houses. Others were walking their dogs.

I was surprised at a few things I found. First was the back street full of boats. Next was the amazing view of the Ohio River near the Casino. Then, there were some really large and beautiful houses up here.

Of course, there were more stairs. The Hassler St Stairs off of Wymore are marked on my OpenStreetsMaps but not on Google. Usually Google is more accurate. I’d have to check again, but I at first glance didn’t see them in Bob Regan’s book, either. Also of note are the Lorenz Avenue stairs, which start slowly, just one step every ten yards before plunging down the hillside like proper steps. Elbon Street was surprisingly long. At one section, it bordered on an artifact of urban redevelopment – former Mayor Tom Murphy’s “Project Picket Fence”.

All in all, this was a cool area to run in. On a sunny Sunday morning, it couldn’t have been better.

St. Patrick’s Day Run – 200th Run Milestone

Today, I’ll combine a couple of runs, done on consecutive days in roughly the same area. Of course, they conquered separate streets, but otherwise were very similar. These were both run in that wedge of the city between Butler Street and Liberty Avenue, as they diverge from 34th Street.

In addition, my run on St. Patrick’s Day was my 200th RATS run! Soon, I’ll update my official map and databases. I’ve made a lot of progress recently. CityStrides claims I’ve run 33% of the city. It’s not 100% accurate but pretty close. Does that mean 600 runs? Ha! I think it’ll be closer to 350.

https://www.strava.com/activities/3189927969
RATS #00199
https://www.strava.com/activities/3192894025
St. Patrick’s Day Run – Also RATS Run #00200!

Monday’s run, RATS #00199, started on Liberty Avenue, with a specific goal of covering Saint James Place and Mintwood Street. This area is a tight grid of small streets and packed alleys. But the grid is haphazard at times, with alleys stopping and small streets only going a couple of blocks.

On Monday, my run continued as dusk settled into night. Kids, off of school and still energetic, giggled and laughed as they wandered the streets in small groups. I came across some cool doors, even on the darkest alleys. In the dark, the slightest glimmer of light is artistic and wonderful.

On Tuesday, I ran by flaming entrance complementing the dark trees of the back exit. It was St. Patrick’s Day, so I donned festive green regalia. Clanging green beads set off dogs throughout Lawrenceville, reminding me of the “Twilight Bark” in 101 Dalmations.

“Arf! Arf! Woof! Woof! Yip,yip, yip!”

I got a kick out of this “Kiln -N- Time” studio and was struck by this impressive cross on a back-alley. But all, in all, the big orange alley cat was my favorite.

All in all, a good run, helping deal with the ongoing cyclone of upheaval. There’s lots of good out there.

Climbing Crumbling Stairs

https://www.strava.com/activities/3186942297
RATS #00198

This sunny run took me from the flats of Upper Lawrenceville to the heights of Stanton Heights along several precarious paths. As the reality sets in of Covid-19 social distancing, it was solo run without any stops at cute little coffee shops. I mainly was focused on a couple of streets with staircases, 56th Street and 57th Street.

I warmed up on the flats between Butler Street and the Allegheny River. This area is seeing new residential development, but still hosts large warehouses such as A-1 Cold Storage, the impressive buildings of McKamish, a mechanical contractor and a Sunoco facility. As for Sunoco, it was founded in Pittsburgh, apparently:

Joseph Newton Pew and Edward O. Emerson were partners at Peoples Natural Gas Company in Pittsburgh, PA, when they decided to expand their gas business to oil. It proved to be a success. Within a few years, the oil company had acquired pipelines, leases and storage tanks – emerging as one of the area’s leading suppliers of crude oil. On March 17, 1890, they made it official with a new name. The Sun Oil Company was producing, transporting, and storing oil as well as refining, shipping, and marketing petroleum.

https://www.sunoco.com/about-us

Who knew?

Now warmed up, I began to tackle the first objective, the 57th Street stairs and a small set of streets perched mid-way on the hillside. The stairs begin where the paved 57th Street turns left and becomes Christopher Street. The first section is very solid. Getting a breather at Duncan Street, stairs continued, ostensibly to Camelia Street for an official total of 345 steps according to Bob Regan’s book.

I had done streets on the top earlier and knew there might be a “connection issue” but, from a distance, I saw an individual climbing the second set of stairs. They disappeared as I went up this next flight. After three or four houses on the right, the stairs became challenging. Treads were sometimes missing. Railings were sometimes missing. Hell, at points, even landings were missing. However, not all at once, so was able to I scrambled up. Near the top, vegetation took over and I could not proceed.

I did the little circuit of streets, Duncan, Wickliff, a section of 56th Street and made my way down to Butler Street. This time I would ascend the 56th Street Stairs from the bottom. Now, just as 56th Street turns into the Shop & Save parking lot, stairs rise majestically up the hill. I must say, they are “officially closed” here, but I slipped through. Same story as 57th Street Stairs – missing treads, missing landings, but actually passable for the nimble.

The first section was the only one which was closed. After that, they become street stairs along the section of 56th Street I had already done. There is another section which ascends to Celadine Street, all in good shape.

Once at the top, I did some streets in Stanton Height and made my way down Kendall Street – a very steep, cobblestone street which masquerades as a country road. That brought me out to Kent Street, taking me back to the flats.

Kendall Street

‘Sno Way! A Trek through Morningside and Stanton Heights

https://www.strava.com/activities/3183121606
RATS #00197

Much has happened since my last post. Most notably, COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, has become rampant across the world and has started to make real, day-to-day impacts on the lives of Americans in general and Pittsburgh in particular. There’s lots of ‘news’, some of it suspect and some of it very solid. Johns Hopkins’ site is pretty informative. In general, the genie is out of the bottle and ‘social distancing’ is being stressed in order to mitigate the effects of the virus. Hopefully, this effort to quash large groups will decrease the total number of cases of covid-19, and spread out the number of cases, so people who are severely sick can get the care they will need. Enough about that.

For the time being, I’ll be avoiding large group runs, but my Spring marathon hasn’t been moved or cancelled and I still have hundreds of Pittsburgh streets to run. Today I started out with Cathy, running from Point Breeze. Cathy wanted some company on the back-half of the Pittsburgh Marathon course, so we ran together for about five miles.

Then I headed over to Morningside to finish some streets in that area, notably Snow Way and pop up into Stanton Heights. So, running up Stanton, I expected to see an alley on the right, with a four letter name starting with “S”. There it was, Swan Way? Hmm, cool house on the corner, a long alley, this must be it. Swan Way continued deep into Morningside, nearly a mile. As I progressed, I dutifully went up and down many of the cross streets. When I got to Martha Street, I finally noticed street signs for Snow Way and realized I had made a mistake. Well, as they say “nothing to it but to do it“, so I made my way back to Stanton in order to pick up the start of Snow Way. Turns out, that’s nigh impossible since Snow Way, while getting really, really close to Stanton Ave, actually dead-ends in a retaining wall holding that street up. To make matters worse, it progresses only a couple of blocks before becoming a grassy track behind houses.. Thanks for the stop sign, neighbor. It does pick up on the far side, though and parallels Swan Way up the hill.

Morningside is a rather nice neighborhood. The well-maintained houses are pretty tight with each other, but each has a yard and often a garage off the alley. At the high end of Morningside, the Baker Street overlooks the Allegheny while on Jancey Street, the old elementary school, Morningside Public School, is now apartments.

From the top end of Morningside, there are three ways to quickly reach Stanton Heights, two sets of staircases without streets (Martha and Adelphia) and a steep street with sidewalk steps (Greenwood).

Going up Greenwood, I was pleasantly surprised at this piece of Stanton Heights. It was similar to Morningside with bigger houses, large shade trees and quiet streets. Since I had gone up Adelphia’s wooden stairs where pieces of asphalt roofing shingles were thoughtfully nailed down for traction, I actually went down Martha concrete steps, all 105 of them. At the bottom, I was vigorously chased by a freedom loving tiny weiner dog, no more than six inches high. Man, those tiny legs can move!

Stanton Heights

Heading to Stanton Heights once more, I was greeted by the official Stanton Heights welcome sign. My hands were still shaking from the weiner dog incident, so the pic is blurry. I covered more streets behind Sunnyside Elementary School then followed Camelia Street, Christopher Street and 57th Street to Upper Lawrenceville. On that steep route down into Lawrenceville, I saw several immense sets of stairs off to the left, which I will have to cover later. I stopped at Caffe d’Amore Coffeeshop, over sixteen miles done and many new streets covered.