“Why would the runner who dislikes cold and dark run in the cold and dark?”
“Because the next day will be much colder…and beer”
I started near the Squirrel Hill Pro-Bike and Run Store. Got a good pre-wetting just waiting for the Garmin to get satellite. Apparently, it didn’t like the rain either and took roughly a year to sync. Nonetheless, eventually it did and I took off towards Point Breeze. It was a wild night – wind and rain lashing against the few pedestrians out there. I sprinted down Edgerton towards Homewood Avenue, only stopping for a moment to capture the spooky entrance arch to Frick Park.
That area was very dark. It lightened up a bit as I ran under the Homewood-Brushton viaduct. I caught Hamilton Avenue and ran East. It was mostly puddle-jumping and avoiding the surprising amount of traffic. The smoked BBQ place at North Braddock was going strong, the smokers adding to the eeriness of the night.
By the time I had gotten to Rosedale Street, surprisingly wide, I had had enough and made my way back to PBR. I didn’t see much of the neighborhood, but it was a mix of decrepit, old warehouses, newer neat houses and dark, brick row houses.
This run was along North Lang Avenue from Point Breeze to the steps at Apple Avenue. Outside the excitement of fire engines racing by on Penn Avenue, it was an uneventful run. The building “Engine House No 16” was, indeed, a fire station, but more recently has been renovated to its current state. City of Pittsburgh firetrucks came from a more modern house.
Crossing Penn, as North Lang drops out of Point Breeze into Homewood, the houses and yards are large. This one below was pretty typical, likely built in the early 1900’s. It seemed prim and proper to me, with its blue trim and cream colored brick and the morning sun blazing.
Crossing the railroad tracks and East Busway on the North Lang footbridge, tall church spires against the bright blue skies caught my eye.
Keeping to North Lang, I continued until the street, itself, gave out. This marked the end of flat Homewood. Steps led up to Apple Avenue, a delightfully named street which is disappointingly drab.
Up on top of the stairs, the hillside held vestiges of past grandeur. This magnificent house looks to be on the upswing, but I’d be reluctant to trick-or-treat there!
I ran the length of Apple Avenue until it ended at small, unimpressive, street. Circling back, I finished where I had started in Point Breeze. It was a great run, an extra 4.7 miles after my earlier 4 miles in Frick Park.
From one goofy intersection to another, that’s South Dallas/North Dallas Avenue. The southern end of South Dallas Avenue springs from Beechwood Boulevard, going a mere 100 feet before it hits a red light (mostly) at the intersection of Forbes Avenue. Quiet as a cemetery, this is an attractive neighborhood with impressive, large houses in the $660,000+ price range. From a runner’s perspective, it is also roughly the start of the Great Race, a popular 10K in September. Tall oaks spread their branches and rain down acorns on the houses. Driveways curve up behind the houses.
Running here was a bit hilly, and South Dallas goes up briefly again as it runs past cemeteries and forms a boundary between Point Breeze and Squirrel Hill. You pass between Homewood Cemetery on the right and Smithfield East End Cemetery on the left. Just now looking up Smithfield Cemetery, I am duly impressed with its heritage.
“It began as a church grave yard to the oldest organized church in the City of Pittsburgh—the first German Evangelical Protestant Church—which was founded in Pittsburgh in 1782 ”
Once you get past the cemeteries, South Dallas becomes nicely straight and slightly downhill. A breeze to run! Continuing on South Dallas Avenue, you’ll notice the houses perhaps getting marginally smaller, but the neighborhood is still pricey, and you’d pay at least $250k for houses all the way to Penn Avenue. The area is still aesthetically pleasing with rather large yards and mature trees.
Continuing past Penn Avenue, South Dallas becomes North Dallas. The houses are still impressive, but the area is not as well maintained. A couple of blocks past Penn Avenue, North Dallas takes a plunge, dropping 100′ in a few blocks. The neighborhood takes a similar plunge as North Dallas passes under railroad tracks and eventually peters out at the weird intersection where Bennett Street peels off from Frankstown Road. Houses in this neck of the woods are much smaller and go for around $50k.
So, I’ve done Dallas, South and North, and wind my way back through Homewood. This area has a bad reputation in my mind and I am pretty cautious. A week after running this route, a rather spectacular crime was committed in suburban Monroeville area and the perpetrators used Homewood as staging area. Vigilant police ended up breaking into a home of an 80 year-old grandmother in their search for a victim. That is still in the courts, I believe.
So, there’s reason to be cautious, but looking around, while I do see run-down row houses, I also see typical three-story Pittsburgh brick foursquare houses neatly maintained with a decent yards. What would those folks in Southside Slopes give for a flat driveway? Not much, I suppose. Alleys straight as an arrow, disappear into the distance. Again, it’s amazing what a mile will do. My trek back to the start was just a long climb out of the valley. Long gradual hills that my warped Pittsburgh vision calls “flat”.