I Left Nigh and High for Gazzam

RATS run #00477 – West Oakland, Terrace Village and the Hill

For RATS run #00477, back in November, I started over in Schenley Park, near the swimming pool, closed for the season, or Covid, or lack of lifeguards. ( I can’t keep track of “why”.) As with most of these later runs, I was trying to iron out a few streets I had missed; Craft Place, Oak Hill Square, Crockett Way, Gazzam Street, among others.

Once I finished all 50 yards of Craft Place, I made my way towards Oak Hill Circle. Several more buildings are being added to this development. If you play your cards right, you can run through mud and see big machines here. I exited along Breckenridge Street and was surprised to find that the hillside had been cleared and replanted. I could now see some of Pitt’s white salt-domes from the street.

I crossed Centre and wandered up Wandless Street. That’s one of the unsung hills in Pittsburgh. Straight up. It’s usually a little busy at the bottom, where there’s a bus stop, but further up, ruins dot the hillside, foundations of former homes. There’s not even foundations left along Crockett Way. I was pleasantly surprised to see that this desolate street had been patched, at least for a bit. Beyond it’s intersection with Granite Street, Crockett runs right into a dense patch of very invasive Japanese Knotweed. I do have a picture of the end. If you really want to see it, email me.

Finishing Crockett, I blazed over Herron Avenue, up Milwaukee, and left onto Orion to see the Magnificent Carnak in person. Not quite as entertaining as I remember it on Carson, but luckily short, this end of Carnak Way goes behind houses on Webster. Orion, the connecting street between Milwaukee and Webster, has a large old school on the corner. The facade above the door looks like it has fire damage. There’s no lack of interesting architecture here.

Coming back via Webster, I made my way to another end of Shemp Way. This alley, paved with golden leaves, is even less used than Carnak. I passed a burnt out car on Junilla. Actually I passed it twice, but only noticed it once. It seemed out of place, as the rest of the street was rather wide open and neat. Making a left onto Webster, I continued towards downtown. A little rain had set in and the tall buildings looked so close.

I didn’t go all the way downtown, but crossed over to Burmah Way. This was, perhaps, my third try at this alley. Now I could see why, as it was a grassy path between buildings, not an actual thoroughfare (par for the course, sigh.) The far end came out on Green Street, a pedestrian walkway. Now it was time to return to my car, so I ran up Devilliers Street to Bentley en route to Nigh Way and High Way. You got it, Nigh Way and High Way, which do, indeed, intersect.

I got a little turned around and ended up on Diaz Way, as it dwindles to nothing. Realizing my mistake, I got back on the Bentley to Kirkpatrick Street. Just off to the left, Gazzam Street slipped into view. I ran up the curve as it twisted around the hill and abruptly ended in front of two houses. They have a decent view of the Birmingham Bridge, even though my picture doesn’t do it justice.

That was all the exploring I had in me that November day. Maybe later, steps into the woods!

Limey, Steese! It’s Linda!

I’m looking out my third floor window and low, scuttling clouds are throwing out splatters of rain. The heat is on again and it seems much more like November than May. So, digging back into yet-to-post archives, here are three November 2021 runs.


RATS Run #00474 in Brighton Heights

This was a very targeted run in Brighton Heights. Only four miles, I was trying to finish out the ends of small streets above Brighton Heights Park then follow Farragut to the Ohio. Friend, runner and storytelling extraordinaire, Rich, “BugayMan”, came with me on this Sunday morning adventure.

Steese Street was typical; a gravel driveway past a half built extension at the end of a dead-end street. It was high on the hill off of Benton Avenue and Lapish Street. Then adventures in dead-ends continued as I wandered down Haller hill with the twin streets/driveways of Dugan and Karwich off of it.

Making a right at the green house on Holler and Speck, we curved around the end of Edwin Street then made our way across Flora Street. Flora is pretty flat for this area. The back-windows of the homes must have great views. Transvaal Street dips back to Holler, where we caught steps down to Lapish Street. It was nice to see this in daylight; the last time I was here it was quite dark.

Crossing Benton Avenue at San Pedro, we made our way through this area, with its mysterious twists and turns popping out onto the busy Brighton Road. We trekked downhill towards the old Giant Eagle. Finally, dodging grocery traffic, we made the left onto Farragut Road.

A few weeks prior, I had considered doing this road in the late evening and I’m very happy to have reconsidered. It looks much better in the daylight. Farragut straddles the Pittsburgh-Bellevue border as it snakes down to the Ohio. There are a number of business down there, businesses which need lots of room; auto yards, trees services, landscaping companies.

An isolated house remains under the Jacks Run Bridge. It looks older than the bridge, but I’m surprised it wasn’t torn down during bridge construction.

Farragut dies out at an outflow pipe just before the Ohio River. I believe that that flat black rubber nozzle protruding from the pipe allows water out, but collapses, closing before river water can go back into the pipes. Railroads rule the remaining 100 yards to the river. Peeking out, I got a nice view of the McKees Rocks Bridge.


RATS #00475 – Lime Street

Lime Street has been a sore spot for me for awhile. There’s no feasible, safe, way to run to it. It’s off of Saw Mill Run Boulevard as folks accelerate to highway speeds. I drove there, anxious about getting rear-ending as I made the sharp right turn then abruptly parked.

I ran a tenth of a mile to the end of the street, ran back and hopped in my car. Sorry, no pictures. But if you’ve been following along, I think you can picture it. Tall narrow houses clinging to the hillside with lots of old cars parked out front.


RATS #00476 – West Liberty and Brookline

This is the longest run of these three and served the same purpose; finishing up the ends of small streets I had missed and making sure I couldn’t go through such streets as Fercliffe or Elmbank, regardless what maps were telling me.

I parked in my favorite spot at Moore Park, then made my way to the end of Levitt Street. En route I re-ran Southcrest and Linda Drive. For some reason CityStrides calculated that I had missed Southcrest. This time, I ran right down the middle of the street. Levitt is at the end of Fallow, which overlooks Saw Mill Boulevard and the Bon-Air T Station. I think I had dog issues the last time I was on Levitt – in that a large German Shepard was running around unleashed. If I was as much a dog-whisperer as I am a cat-whisperer, this streets project would have been much quicker.

Anyway, with no dog incidents here, I returned to Pioneer Avenue. Mayville Avenue, Elmbank and Ferncliffe were my first stops. These streets plunge off Pioneer’s Golden Path. The bottoms are wet and woody.

Next up was the OTHER end of Elmbank and the major thoroughfares of Raeburn Way and Alumni Way. Completeness is a curse.

After Alumni, I circled Kenilworth and returned to Moore Park along Pioneer. Once again I passed this cool Little Free Library. You can find @cheesemeadowlfl on Instagram.

CheeseMeadowLFL

I’m really hoping NOT to have snow in June, but that seems to be the blogging trend here. Thanks for continuing to follow along.

October 2021 Reclaiming Missed Streets

Here are three runs from the end of October, 2021; Squirrel Hill, Westwood and another Windgap adventure.


RATS #00468 – Westwood

On a rainy Friday afternoon in October, I set out for Westwood again. My goal was several small streets I had earlier missed; Kearns Place, a section of Oakbrook Circle at the end of Kearns (before it dissolves into a path down to Greentree Road); Sky Way, appropriately named; and the ends of Valora and Winona.

Roughly speaking, this section of Westwood sits on the top of a large hill bounded by Greentree Road on the East and South and Noblestown Road on the North and West. On the highest streets such as Warriors Road, you can see downtown buildings peeking out through the trees. Kearns crosses Warriors and starts a long plunge down toward the West End. Right before it is blocked off, a little section of Oakbrook Circle juts off to the right. It is completely disconnected from the rest of Oakbrook Circle across the street and higher on the hill.

Streets tightly packed with houses were interspersed with long wet alleys. Fall colors along Coverdale were especially bright on that rainy, gray day.

The houses were generally large here with sizable yards. Some were decorated for Halloween, but I didn’t see any “natural” haunted houses, like I’ve seen on other parts of Pittsburgh.

And that was it, three hilly miles and several street-ends done.


RATS #00469 – Squirrel Hill and Greenfield

RATS #00469 was a six mile run around Squirrel Hill and Greenfield to catch such major thoroughfares as Hempstead Street, Webb Street and Traynor Way. I’m not sure what possessed me to start from the track at Schenley Park at 8 AM on Saturday, but I think that’s where the City of Bridges group run was starting and I started with them.

Nonetheless, shortly after we crossed the Greenfield Bridge, I veered off to the right, down Greenfield Avenue and up Kaercher. Finally I took the right on Yoder and started the steep descent, with views of Oakland before me. Webb Street looks more like a broad driveway and ends above Yoder at a gated backyard.

Returning to Yoder as it crashes down the hill, I took the Alvin Street Steps to the top of Alvin Street. Alvin Street has a 16%-25% grade with sidewalk steps and also ends at Greenfield Avenue.

My next stop was Traynor Way, so I returned up Greenfield Avenue in search of this elusive prey. Actually, it wasn’t so elusive, just camouflaging itself as a driveway. Eschewing camouflage altogether, a flock of colorful flamingos quietly graced the hillside.

Now for Hempstead, a quarter mile of old-style apartment buildings in the heart of Squirrel Hill. Such large scale, older apartment complexes are common in Squirrel Hill.

From there, I just worked my way back to Schenley Park, happy that the heights of Greenfield were behind me.


RATS #00470 – Windgap & Fairywood

RATS Run #00470 was another visit to Windgap. I wanted to verify a few things. Does Summerdale go further than I thought? Is Acasto Way really on the wrong place on the map? How about Youghegheny Street and that area under the bridge?

I parked on Summerdale, above Chartiers Playground; finished up Celina Place and made my way to the Windgap Bridge; under it actually. It was a bright Sunday afternoon and no one was out.

Going under the Windgap Bridge brought me to a small industrial park. Large warehouses stationed themselves at the ends of wide roads, meant for 18-wheelers. On the way out I noticed steel I-beams lazily placed along the road; perhaps in lieu of railings.

Coming out from the industrial park, I made a right on Youghigheny Street to it’s mulched end. It goes behind long backyards and ends near the railroad tracks. Now I went down Windgap Avenue and took the right on Summerdale. City Strides claims Summerdale pokes past Mayfair, but that’s not the case. Even back ten years, Google Streetview shows nothing but woods at the end of Summerdale.

Now I sailed down Chartiers in search of the real Acasto. There it was, with a bright blue street sign, to boot! Alas, the Open Streets Map on which Strava and CityStrides are based have it in the wrong place, about fifty yards from its actual location. From there, I took a stab at Alora Way but didn’t feel comfortable towards the end. Perhaps I have another trip to Windgap in store!

Revisiting Vista’s

RATS Run #00467 Allegheny West, Allegheny East, Spring Garden

This post-work run was supposed to be a preview for a City of Bridges Run, but turned into an adventure all of its own. I started near West Park and was happy to see that the Ridge Avenue bridge had been completed. Several runs have been extended when I forgot it was closed and had to go the long way around.

Ridge Avenue Bridge Over Norfolk Southern Tracks

From there, I made my way through East Allegheny towards Spring Garden. I took Gerst Way over I-279. At East Street, I made the left and rambled up to Royal Street. I was looking for a small street, allegedly off of Bly Street. I hadn’t seen it on a previous run, and was hoping to find it tonight.

All I found off of Bly was an overgrown hill. Perhaps the “street” had been steps which have since fallen down. Oh well, I turned back to clear up some more mysteries. For instance, the mystery of Radnor Street and Callen Street, known on Google Maps as Vallette Street; did it exist? Was it passable? I returned to East Street, heading back into town, then turned left onto Rostock Street.

A couple of houses up, I came to the end of Radnor. A barrier prevented cars from going further, but I scooted around. I went deeper and deeper into the underbrush. Eventually I found it impenetrable. Perhaps in the dead of winter this would go through. Returning to Rostock, I came across an open manhole. That’s a long drop and I’m happy I didn’t have a misstep into it. Apparently, though, there is a whole world of manhole-lids. For the curious, check out “The Ultimate Manhole Covers” site.

My next target was a spur of Kaiser Street off of Haslage Avenue. Those were high on the hill above me and I approached them via Vista Street. I had heard the Vista Steps had been re-opened after a two-year renovation project. In fact, a September 21, 2021 City of Pittsburgh Facebook post says, in part, “…This $750,000 Department of Mobility & Infrastructure project saw the preservation of the mosaic mural created by Linda Wallen and nearby residents.” I am a bit surprised at the cost of this, but I suppose these steps will last another 100 years. I’d hate to see what it will cost to fix the Troy Hill Steps. Anyway, it has one of those bike runnels, so that if you’re riding your bike up Vista Street, you can scoot it up alongside you on the steps.

Now, if you ARE riding your bike up Vista Street on a regular basis, you are one hell of an athlete. Between the top of the steps and Goehring Street, the grade is between 8% and 17%. While I have run up it a few times, I think it would be harder on a bike.

Elevation on Vista Street

Making the left onto Goehring Street and right onto Kaiser took me higher and higher. I was disappointed that Kaiser became a driveway at Haslage, with a rope across it and a guy fooling around in the yard. So, for now, I skipped it.

I like this area of Spring Garden / City View. The hills are punishing, the houses are surprisingly cool. At my back, Pittsburgh spreads out below.

Hunnel Street is another unbelievably steep road. Those wooden steps are pretty sturdy in spite of their wavy look. Just before the top of Hunnel, Frontier “Street” goes off to the left. In some regions, that would be called a yard. Today, I took a pass on it.

Hunnel turns into Stein and goes abruptly downhill. Stein, the street, continues as steps past this decrepit white house. Can’t drive that way, of course. If it had a bike runnel, too, I suppose you could sail down the steps on a bike. As it is now, you’d just go bump, bump, bump on your bike. Since I was NOT on a bike, I just went clomp, clomp, clomp down the stairs to Homer Street. My time was getting short and after passing the ghosts of Homer, I scurried back to the Allegheny Center.

En route, I passed the Aviary and saw only one big bird was roosting in a tree. I was hoping it was Cody, but couldn’t really tell.

Aviary

Four October Runs Across Pittsburgh

I’m writing this blog on March 12, 2022 and am very depressed by the current state of world affairs. I’m sad for Ukraine, angry at Russia and exasperated by the U.S. response. Nonetheless, here are four runs in October, spread across the city from Belmar to Fairywood. Hopefully recalling better days will brighten my mood, and yours too.


RATS #00463 Belmar

RATS Run #00463 in Belmar was another effort to finish up some small streets and dead-ends in the area. It was just to the northwest of RATS Run #00462. I started on Meade Street and caught Calway Street and Heart Court right off the bat. Then I made a long trek on Upland and Apple past the Negro Opera House. I’ve remarked on this house before. Now, it looks like renovations are underway. Yay! Perhaps these will be completed?

Moving on, my next goal was Mingo Street. Earlier, on a run with Rich, I balked at going past the barriers at the bottom of the hill. Today, though, I wanted to take a closer look. It turns out that Mingo Street does, indeed, continue. It passes two houses which seem ready to fall down. Reflecting on yesterday’s run on Hallam Street, I expect these houses to be gone without a trace in ten years.

I followed Mingo around the hill. It emerges onto Latana Way, where kids still play with trucks and a very red shed hosts basketball tournaments. Turning back onto Grotto Street, I crossed Lemington Avenue and made my way onto Elrod Way. Tucked up the hill was the alley of my destiny, Mayo Way.

I had some Mayo sandwiched between two dead-ends. Along the way, I daresay I surprised an old guy hanging out in his garage, but I made sure not to park it anywhere. To be honest these “No Parking” signs crack me up. I mean, really? Is this a problem? People parking in front of an inaccessible, broken down garage? Or is it that “No Parking” signs are more durable than your regular signs?

Anyway, moving on, I made it to both ends of Ebel Street and, again, verified that I’d be sanctioned heavily if I trespassed onto Highland Drive, a former site of the VA Hospital.

From here, I made my to Easton Way and through the Paulson Playground. On a warm afternoon, this place is swarming with kids. Today was quiet, though. Then it was a short jaunt up Clifford Way. I did not see a Big Red Dog, but he could have been hiding in the dense undergrowth.

From here, I made my Dreary way across the Larimar Avenue Bridge and followed Relic Way to its bitter end. For some reason, the GPS thinks I ran through yards, houses and sheds instead of straight down Relic. And that was it, a solid 8.84 mile run.


RATS #00464 Fairywood

RATS #00464 was on the opposite edge of town; a few Pittsburgh streets off of Ingram Avenue and then into Fairywood. I was a bit surprised to find an historical marker for Pittsburgh way out here. I suppose it’s a border sort of thing.

After running halfway across the Steubanville Pike Bridge, I came back skirted past an old “Sharp Edge” restaurant, with inviting red awnings. However, the windows were dark and the place was deserted. Closed. I have heard, though, that another restaurant will be moving in.

I ducked under the bridge to run along Napor Boulevard. Napor runs along the edge of an light industrial park on the edge of Chartiers Creek. Cellones is a large scale Italian bakery which has facilities here. Chartiers Creek looked peaceful.

Coming back to West Steuban Street, I crossed over Ingram Avenue and onto Woodmere Drive. An Amazon warehouse sits at the end of Woodmere. With a quick left then right, I found myself back on Industrial Highway. While only 3/4 of a mile long, it is built like a full scale highway. I’m always a little scared to run on it and really push the pace. Today was no exception, as my leisurely 10 minute pace increased to a 7 min/mile pace before I got winded and had to drop back to an 8:30. Great place to sprint.

I intended to go to the end of Industrial Highway, or as Strava calls it, “Chartiers Valley Lane”. However, the road went through a gate, marked “No Pedestrian Access”. Hmm, that seems pretty clear. Hey, I went further than the Google Streetview car did! It looks like Maple Grove Aggregates is the only thing down there.

I turned back toward the heart of Fairywood. As I’ve mentioned before, there used to be a housing development here. That one is empty land now. An empty pool is starting life over as a forest, tree by tree. But there is a housing development on the other side of Broadhead Road and one of Pittsburgh’s biggest landowners, the URA is trying to develop this.

I finished up running along Windgap Road. That’s a street in bad need of sidewalks. I did get a peek into the 25 yrd long Medford Street before finishing up in the Ingram Crafton Shopping Center.


RATS #00465 Brookline

RATS Run #00465 was a quick run in Brookline to finish up alleys like Pontoon Way (both sides), Minor Way, Redbird Way, Mossrose Way and Georgette Street among others. However, it was already dark by the time I got going, so I don’t have many pics. I think this neighborhood, nestled between Glenbury Road and Carmalt Field is pretty nice. It is all suburban residential, but the hills and alleys give it a mysterious air. From the end of Wychelm you can see the lights of downtown.

After going up to the end of Wychelm, I went down Parklyn, catching the left and right to get to the end of Mossrose Way. I returned along the long stretch of Mossrose, where it rises above the houses as a lane covered in pine needles. Making two rights, I decided to be bold and go down Georgette Lane. It was not, indeed, a driveway, but rather a respectable, short street with a house at the end.

I finished up Minor Way and went to the end of Redbird. That alley just bailed out at the top of a hill into someone’s backyard. Whoops! A wet, short night run all done.


RATS #00466 Duquesne Heights and Mount Washington

Returning to daylight and hills again, RATS Run #0466 wrapped around Mt. Washington and Duquesne Heights. I spent some time on the Emerald View Trail, which encircles this section of town.

Cielo Lane juts off of Fingal Street to provide some nice views of the Point. I tromped down to Greenleaf, which dives toward the West End Circle. However, about half way down I took the steep right onto Homer Street. There are only a few houses there, perched high on the hill. Homer leads directly into Emerald View Park.

I took Emerald View until I popped up on Grandview. From there I completed Augusta Street, en route to Wyloa Street. I thought I had completed Wyola, but it turns out there is a little spur which remains to be done. However, I got to traverse some of my favorite steps, Greenleaf and Well.

Now, my next target was Chess Street, but that was well on the other side of Woodruff Street. I took a “shortcut” by going up the Mann Street Steps to get me closer to the southern end of Mt Washington Park. I was appalled by the lack of a retaining wall behind condos being built on Grace Street. I can already see the road being undermined.

In the woods I lost my sense of direction and ended up on Norton, instead of Spahrgrove. Chess Street, wasn’t much to see, in spite of the cobblestones.

From here, I ran back to my car on Bigham. Damn, this area is hilly!

The Way it Was

RATS #00462 – East Hills

This run, RATS #00462 in the East Hills, was at a strange time…Friday morning. It turns out I had some vacation to burn, so I took a day off to complete some streets. Now, overall, I had been through this area many times, but I needed to finish up Hill Street, Square Way, Cain Way, Hallam Street and Angoria Way.

On my way to Hill Street, I passed the pink Triceratops near Braddock Avenue. From there, I made my way past a little-used skate park to Hill Avenue as it smacks into the East Busway. It seems someone’s intention is to close that street, so a pile of dirt and bushes cuts it off for cars. However intrepid pedestrians can find a path to the end of Hill Avenue. There’s not a whole lot to see as it curves around to Madeira Street.

Now I kinda did a U-Turn. Madeira runs into Wood Street and I picked up the other side of Hill Avenue. I roughly followed the border of Pittsburgh and Wilkinsburg as it undulates up and down Swissvale Avenue and Laketon Road.

My goal was the end of Square Way. It is an alley from Fairlawn Street to past Frankella Avenue. I was thinking this was the only Frankella in the US, but no, there’s another one in Florida. How weird is that? Anyway, Square Way just ended unceremoniously in a grassy area. Now, my next target streets were over on Frankstown Road, so I took the widely curving trip up Robinson Boulevard. At the top there’s a very large vacant area on the left. Well over twenty years ago there was a shopping center here, “East Hills Shopping Center”. Now the best they can do is a U-Pull-And-Pay, an auto salvage business.

Formerly a Shopping Area

That took me to Frankstown Road and back into the city. I picked up Woods Avenue (no relation to Wood Street) and went up the hills onto Dersham Street. Slashing onto the wooded hillsides above, many streets jut off of Dersham. They are mostly dead-end streets with modest houses along them. I went up Cain Way to the last house, to the bumper of the car parked at the end. It didn’t look too promising, so I scurried back down the hill. Dersham ends at Standard Avenue, where I took a right-left combo to climb onto Perchment Street.

Perchment is similar to Dersham, but further up the hill and more isolated. Passing Lawndale, with its steps, I came to Hallam Street. This street always had worried me. Often cars parked up the small street and the corner, dilapidated house scared me. I suppose its silly to be scared of a house, but there it is. This day, however, maybe because it was a Friday, the road was open; no cars parked on it. So I explored.

Rather quickly the smooth pavement becomes a rutted road. A little further, downed trees attempted to block the way. More insidious were the weeds with bristles and thorns. But lingering asphalt showed where the street had been, all the way to a house’s foundation. Google Streetview shows a house there as late as 2011.

I was surprised not more was left of the house. What happened? Was it demolished? Is this a parable for the transitory nature of human existence? Tracking my way back, I noticed a grove littered with monkeyballs. Those have been around since the mastodons. Now, the end of Hallam Street looked very much like civilization and I felt more friendly towards the house on the corner.

Now, I just had one more adventure in store. Angoria Way had a little branch off of Ferndale which I had earlier missed. I went up Blackadore to catch that end but initially missed the turn and ended up in Penn Hills. Realizing my mistake, I more carefully ran back. The reason I missed it was that it looked like a grassy driveway. I should’ve known by now.

Angoria just took me past dilapidated houses and the occasional car. With this, I made my way down Wheeler, through the heart of Homewood. Great way to spend a day, seven miles done.

No Starch and I’m Not Lion

RATS Run #00461

This run was the second RATS run of the day, the earlier one being a little over 3 miles in New Homestead, described in my last post. For this run, my intention was to get to the bottom of Starch Street and the top of William Street.

Of course by “bottom of”, I’m thinking “the bottom of the story”, rather than the lowest elevation. Starch Street is purportedly at the end of Excelsior Street. I had been down Excelsior before, but stopped at the Jersey barriers at the end. Today I wanted to see how far it went “Beyond the Barrier”. I trotted up McClain and then took the quick right, left combo onto the end of Excelsior. At that point, the asphalt gave way to brick. There were a couple of cars parked there and then the barriers. I hopped over them and went a few feet. The road disappeared into a mass of vegetation. I pressed on. Maybe just past these bushes? But no, I just disturbed a deer, who noisily clambered down the slope. Perhaps in the dead of winter there’s a path. Perhaps a pith helmet and machete are required, but I’m considering this one inaccessible.