Bluebelle to Gribble

https://www.strava.com/activities/4299049192/overview
RATS #00324 in Perry North

I wasn’t sure what to expect on this run. Just looking at the map, my route seemed to be a nondescript area tucked between Perrysville Avenue and I-279. In the more suburban neighborhoods, this area would have been a rather boring, just strewn with split level houses and big yards. Instead, I was treated to an exciting area with houses of all sizes, powerful views of the setting sun and steps galore. I started from Riverview Park and made my way north along Perrysville Avenue.

Finishing off Franklin Street at its northern intersection with Perrysville Avenue, I looked right and immediately saw my next street, Bluebelle (yes, with the delicate ‘e’ on the end). Up Bluebelle, a staircase, I went, finding myself on Amos Way at the top.

Through the houses at the end of Amos Way, I could see the Observatory at Riverview Park and even the faint outline of Trimont. I don’t think I’ve ever looked down on Riverview before. This high point was home to several communications towers and a rather squat water tower.

One of the more interesting finds were these murals at the top of Santiago Streets’ dozen steps; Fiasco Art Center.

High hilltops clutched the last rays of the rapidly setting sun, making this a relatively bright run. Good thing, too, because of all the steps I encountered; Santiago Street, Montana Street, Grizella Street, Radium Street.

Finally the daylight really started to fade as I made my way down Waldorf Street. Waldorf Street had huge houses, reminiscent of North Squirrel Hill, but on large, surprisingly flat lots. “No Outlet” signs did not deter me, for I had a feeling I would find a way through. (If I had studied the map more, it would have been more than a feeling.)

And so, I came upon a faded street sign, “Gribble”. That could only lead to no good, so on I went. It took me down to Dewey Avenue, a small street just off of I-279, opportune for making my way back to the park.

Along the way, I espied a small street, Eula, which I hadn’t yet done. Whats one more dark street among friends? So I wnt up it to East Street and back to Baytree. Coming down it I realized that it, too, had steps. They were mainly leaf-covered at the bottom, but no more treacherous than the cobblestone street.

Eula Street

Now fully dark, I scampered back to my car.

Stepping from Uptown to the Hill

https://www.strava.com/activities/4187229338
RATS #00321 – Uptown and Lower Hill

Starting under the Birmingham Bridge, near the Boat Ramp off of 18th Street, I crossed over the bridge and embarked on some more exploration of the Lower Hill and Uptown. While Forbes Avenue and Fifth Avenue take thousands of people downtown, it is rare for people to venture up the slope for even a street or two. There are reasons, of course. Most of these streets spill out onto Kirkpatrick Street and stop. Further into the Hill District, Centre Avenue is alone in continuing all the way through Oakland. Webster becomes a small residential street after Herron Avenue while Wylie stops entirely there.

It is also generally poor, rundown and is considered dangerous. Nonetheless, I needed to do these streets. Along Fifth Avenue, not far from the Birmingham Bridge, there’s a set of wooden steps (Rising Way) which take you to De Raud Street. One section of De Raud winds along past a couple of abandoned buildings to a little playing field off of Kirkpatrick Street. I was nervous about running there, but had no problem. In fact, the playing field had been used as a garden and several folks were out there in the cool early evening cleaning it up. (Don’t confuse Rising Way with Rising Main. Rising Main is in the Northside and is much longer.)

I actually did the Rising Way steps twice, because I looped around Kirkpatrick Street upon exiting the park. The second time around, I took a left to the corner of DeRaud and Wyandotte. A brief look at Strava indicates that Wyandotte continues on the right for a bit. In a sense, it does, but not for cars. It continues as a long set of steps and walks.

While not shown, when you make a left off of these steps at the end, you’re at the end of Diaz Way. There’s a lone house there with cars parked in front. That’s the only house on Diaz until you get to Wicks Street about a quarter mile away. Unfortunately, Diaz Way has been trashed for years. A fence on the uphill side holds back layers of leaves interspersed with cans, bottles and other debris. Halfway to Wicks Street are the Lombard Street Steps. The lower section takes you to Colwell Street, while the upper side takes you to Lombard Street.

I took the lower section, making a left to the end of Colwell Street, which, I must say, is blocked off and doesn’t actually meet Wyandotte anymore. Turning around, I got that view of the downtown skyline, a mile and millions of dollars away. Returning to Diaz Way took me to the Wicks Street Steps, very similar to Upper Lombard Street. Here, though, the steps don’t plop you out onto a street, but rather a narrow sidewalk. The street is held back by a shoulder-high retaining wall, even in front of a house.

Once up these steps, the small roads curve to Dinwiddie Street, where scores of homes have been reconstructed or built anew. From here, I wandered along Reed Street and Colwell Street but eventually worked my way to the end of Crawford Street. Crawford ends in Cliff Street, aptly named because it sits high above the Veteran’s Bridge and the East Busway. Cliff Street ends at a private walk strewn with leaves.

End of Cliff Street (this section, at least)

Working my way back to the Birmingham Bridge, I came across the construction at Mercy Hospital and some very stoic dogs. You might even say they were wooden.

Rolling on Rolla

https://www.strava.com/activities/4187229338
RATS #00313 – Manchester, California-Kirkbride with a little Perry Hilltop thrown in

This Monday evening run took me through the Northside, into Perry Hilltop and down through California-Kirkbride. The early evening in this area is quite active. There’s still lots of renovations going on in the Mexican War Streets. Kids are playing before dinner and men and women are getting home from work. My route meandered through the Central Northside, with its narrow streets eventually rising up Buena Vista Street.

Buena Vista is flat near West North Avenue, but by the time it passes behind Propel School, it has a 14% slope. It gets as steep as 17% before leveling off in three tenths of a mile. On my way down, I took the picture below, surprised how close Trimont seemed.

Overlook “intersects” Rolla with a nice set of steps. Rolla itself is just a short street from Buena Vista to Yale Street. Yale is blocked off and has been for a number of years, apparently. A cursory internet search didn’t turn up any specific reason, but checking the real estate site revealed that most lots on Yale are owned by the City of Pittsburgh. The other Yale Street in Pittsburgh is in Carrick.

That aside, one end of Rolla Street hits Buena Vista while the other drains down a steep staircase to Irwin Street. Those steps apparently had houses and other steps branching off from it. Towards the bottom, a sidewalk veers off of the steps to the Propel School grounds.

From here, I trotted over to California-Kirkbride. It is not a large area, but has bedeviled me with its grid of streets, for some reason. Ah, I know one reason, some of the “streets” are paper streets, which quickly ruin a planned route. Nonetheless, there’s things going on there recently. Many old houses have been demolished and lots have been landscaped. There are new houses and a little bit of artwork on the lonesome walls. One of the remaining buildings hosts a faded sign for “Clays”, a bar.

At this point, I had done most of my planned route and decided to venture further up California Avenue. I ended up in a land of exits and entries for cars where it intersects Marshall Avenue. Not sure, but do you think I can get to Route 65 or Route 19 from there?

Five signs for Rt 65 and three for Rt19

I finished off exploring by doing Ridgeland Drive. For the day’s final set of steps, I discovered this small set of steps at the end of Ridgeland Place going to Oliver High School and Brighton Road.

From here, I just made my way back to my car. It had been a good run with lots to see.

Water Domes and Garden Hedgehogs

https://www.strava.com/activities/3870482463
RATS #00276 – Carrick

Another evening run in Carrick. This time, I chose to stay south of East Agnew Avenue. I’m slowing warming up to this area, though should warn all potential runners that once you leave Brownsville Road, it quickly goes downhill, elevation-wise. The neighborhood is mixed, with broad streets and large houses followed by steep streets with small houses. There’s also a some suburban decay – a few residences are condemned to voracious vines.

But the real surprise of this run was how quickly I went from those residential scenes above to the water filtration plant along Madeline Street. These geodesic half-domes are part of Pennsylvania American Water’s system. American Water is a much larger company than I expected, supplying water to communities in 46 states. Alcosan, servicing much of Pittsburgh, seems to be the bigger water player around here while another water company, Penn-Wilkinsburg Joint Water Authority, services suburbs east of the Pittsburgh, like Wilkinsburg and Penn Hills.

I wandered between East Agnew and Madeline for most of my run. Redrose Avenue dead-ends but has a flight stairs coming down to Madeline. Later in the run, I found a curious set of sidewalk steps along East Woodford Avenue. They were sunken alongside a retaining wall instead of above the street.

At the end of Hornaday Road, I found an interesting collection of neighborhood delights. I could be wrong, but it looked like a garden, a playground and a Little Library all in one! That sounds like a fun place. I also came across a hedgehog shrine.

I also encountered my share of house guardians. A few just stood stone-like, scared of me, I suppose, while many more voiced their disapproval that I was running by, or running by without petting them and giving them treats.

Crossing over Brownville Road, I discovered the streets on the far side to be steeper than the ones I had just left. West Woodford Avenue, for example, drops nearly 170 feet in two-tenths of a mile. Climbing back out of that well, I ran to my car and finished with five miles.