As I’ve covered more and more of Pittsburgh, my runs are increasingly on smaller streets and alleys. This early March run into Oakland definitely fits that description. I started in Dinosaur Playground, as my kids used to call it. It’s a great little playground and field at the tip of Schenley Park. Pre-Covid, parking in Oakland was so expensive and scarce that many people would park here and walk to Pitt on a daily basis.
But let’s get things started with shoes and sunsets. Shoes on the wires and a nice sunset across the “Charles Anderson Memorial Bridge” carrying Panther Hollow Road out of the Park, where it mysteriously renames itself to Boulevard of the Allies.
Continuing into Oakland I made my way down Coltart Street to Iroquois Way. For some reason, it isn’t on most visitors’ “must-see” list! Coltart Street is very typical of Central Oakland. Low houses, duplexes and apartments struggle for space under the rising tide of Pitt development.
Students and medical professionals flow through Oakland, going to work, going home, going to classes, laundromats, restaurants, and bars. I think the colorful mural is along Bates Street, but Gene’s Place is harder to find, well hidden off of Atwood Street. It does not serve food, so with the strange restaurant laws in Pennsylvania, it still allows indoor smoking.
Rounding out the neighborhood tour, I came back to Dinosaur Playground via the Panther Hollow Bridge passing in front of Phipps. A short run, a short blog!
Who is he? Sunday, “he” was me. I was running in Oakland and decided to pay the remnants of Forbes Field a visit. The first remnant was the outfield wall, 457 feet from home plate. The second was home plate itself, preserved under plexiglass in the floor of Posvar Hall. Sleepy studying students looked askance at a bundled up runner traipsing in, taking a picture and running out.
But, as Pitt has built up Oakland, “he” could also be every student, parent and professor drawn to its burgeoning educational, medical and research center. Here is Pitt’s research page, where you can see for yourself how large it has gotten. I’m a graduate of Pitt myself. But this day, I was just a runner, trying to capture a few more streets. Old Oakland is hard to see here, but there are glimpses.
After a few miles I stopped by the Cathedral for a few trips up the stairs.
It was cold, even on a sunny Saturday afternoon. Starting in Squirrel Hill, as I often do, I ran toward Schenley Park. It’s a beautiful, heavily wooded park with winding roads, hills, playgrounds, a golf-course and a lake.
After a couple of miles, I emerged into Central Oakland. This part of Oakland is dominated by student housing of all sorts. There are upscale condo/townhouses and street after street of apartment buildings and houses re-muddled into apartments. The area is pretty flat and the streets are relatively long, straight and in a grid. The area was busy with students. I remembered that as a student, I was always worried about money, classes, jobs, homework, girls and family (not necessarily in that order). As a father with college age children, I want to say to them “Don’t worry too much, do your best and you’ll be fine”. However, I do know that their lives are opaque to me, I don’t know their struggles and that they will have to find their own way. So, I just run past, nodding a silent greeting. Who knows if they gave any thought to the old guy lumbering past them?
And lumber past I did, cutting down Neville Street as it plunged into Panther Hollow. I ran under Schenley Drive and Forbes, eventually emerging in North Oakland, with its large institutional buildings, museums, churches. I found my way back along Ellsworth Avenue in Shadyside before turning up Negley Avenue back home.