Deserted Berg and a Great Gate

RATS Run #00445 Bookending Carrick

This was my first big run of September, 2021. I choose to go back to Carrick. My favorite way to get to Carrick is to drive up the winding Beck’s Run Road and park along Brownsville Road not far from the Dunkin Donuts. That way, I can easily treat myself after a long run. It also has the benefits that many of Carrick’s one BILLION streets are within striking distance.

My first street was Berg Place. I have run past it several times, just tiredly looking at it as a little driveway. Today, I decided to just see how far that driveway went. It didn’t go far. I was amazed how run down it was. While I wouldn’t call this area of town “pristine”, most of the homes here are occupied and in decent shape, perhaps needing a little work. Berg Place, on the other hand was a disaster area. Several apartment buildings lined two driveways. There are at least 20 apartment units among three or four buildings and a line of garages. I imagine at one time they were all full of families. In fact, Google’s Streetview from 2007 shows neat apartment buildings. Now however, weeds grow through the asphalt and vines climb the building. Balconies without railings cascade down buildings while the dark eyes of broken windows stare on.

I did some research and it seems this level of neglect is the direct result of a bad landlord. Perhaps slumlord is a better name. According to a 2015 Post-Gazette article he did such cool things as surreptitiously running a hose from a neighboring property to supply water for his tenants, mostly Bhutanese refugees. (I personally didn’t know that Pittsburgh even had a Bhutanese community.) Can you imagine getting water on the third floor from a hose at ground level? That’s pretty bad. I’m not sure what has happened since, legally, but there were plans for the URA to take over the properties. Sigh, they seem to take forever to redevelop properties.

Moving on from Berg Place, I swept up Spencer Avenue with its classic Pittsburgh four-square houses. I hopped over to Rhoad Avenue, where the dead-end evidently continues beyond the gate. Skipping over to Novel Way, I scooted past the German Shepard at the corner and went as far down Novel as I thought feasible. Perhaps there’s an epilogue past that shady spot, but Novel Way looks finished at that point.

Jumping down Makery Way, I set out to find Gilboa Way and Wendelin Way. As alleys go, Wendelin Way is bright and open, even though its on the low end of a cemetery. There seems to be a slight misspelling on the street sign, as Maggie Ess pointed out. Maggie had been walking all the streets of Pittsburgh and finished a few weeks ago.

Calvert Street is one of those Pittsburgh streets which can only be accessed through Baldwin. It was a great neighborhood. I mean, there are CAT people there!

Coming back into Pittsburgh along Agnew Road, I cleaned up along Beck’s Run Run where the patriotic car wash was packed. Cursing the lack of sidewalks on that curvy, dangerous section of Beck’s Run Road, I eventually topped out on Brownsville Road.

I was about halfway done and resisted the urge to grab a doughnut before continuing to Parkfield Street. As I turned from Parkfield to the elusive end of Riota Way, a gardener on the corner made sure I knew Riota was a dead-end. I chatted with her briefly about my project and got motherly warnings about going down Parkfield. “It’s so steep and the cars fly up the hill! Be careful!” Pittsburghers are so nice. BTW, that’s great advice if you are ever running on Parkfield Street. Stay close to the curb and keep a sharp eye out for zooming cars. Dressing in blaze orange might help, too.

Once safely down to Saw Mill Run Boulevard, I scooted across to Ansonia Way. Ansonia Way is blocked off for cars, but is fine for pedestrians. It goes all the way the the T embankment where it becomes Midwood Street. At one end is a T Station. Returning to Saw Mill Run Blvd is easy with the Midwood Steps to cross Saw Mill Run creek.

Once up on Saw Mill Run, I made my way to Whited and the little Ballinger Street. Ballinger is another of Pittsburgh’s split personality streets. There are two disjoint sections with the same name. I suppose they connected at some point. Now, one leads you right to rail road tracks. Luckily there’s a gate, or someone might get hurt.

Safety Gate

This pretty much finished up my planned route, so I clambered up Colerain Street again, circling the playing field once for fun. Yet another steep street.

Last August

Here are a couple of runs to finish out August of 2021. It wasn’t my highest mileage month, by far, with only sixty-one miles recorded and eight street runs. But, there were other life events; a vacation, a wedding, so I’m okay with it.


RATS #00443 in Highland Park and Stanton Heights

This was an evening run to catch a few streets from Highland Park to Stanton Heights. I started by running up from North Highland Avenue to Sheridan Avenue. I circled Sheridan Court, a mid-50’s “modern” housing plan. From there, I dove into the Highland Park.

I traipsed down One Wild at the back of the Pittsburgh Zoo. I had gotten a late start, so it was getting dusky when I saw lights through the trees. A dragon! These cute white and blue creatures! Are they Chinese zodiac lanterns? This was the closest I got to the Lantern Festival.

One Wild Place meets Butler Street just before the large zoo parking lots. In prime summer season, this little stretch is clogged with cars; families going to the zoo; families getting ice cream and dogs; silly commuters trying to make their way through this mess. Now, however, the sun was setting, the zoo lots were empty and the burgers were sold out, leaving stragglers with only malts, floats and sundaes at the Lock & Dam Dog Shop.

Just past this intersection Gallatin Street rises from Butler, crosses Baker Street and steps its way into the tip of Morningside. I took a left on Witherspoon until it becomes Java Way, a little cul-de-sac between small houses. I worked my way through Morningside to Greenwood Street, where steps rise to Stanton Heights.

The dusk had given way to full blown night by the time I made through Stanton Heights to Arcade Way. Looks like high summer is over.

Arcade Way

RATS #00444 in East Liberty

RATS run #00444 was a wet little run in East Liberty. Hudson Place, Armstrong Way, Tyler Way, Kalida Drive and Weldin Way were on my list this night. Following a theme, I got a rather late start; 8 PM, in a downpour. My pictures are all blurry with splotches of light, quite representative of my vision that night.

I really didn’t mind the rain too much and splashing through puddles is, after all, one of my superpowers. However, I scared the bejeebers out of someone on Weldin Way.

Weldin Way is a potholed alley which dead-ends into a parking lot surrounded by dingy apartments. Just before I made my turn down onto Weldin Way, a car turned down the alley. Normally cars are in another dimension – they speed by like I’m a rock. However, with the low light, potholes and rain, this one went slowly, in fact almost as slow as I was going. I kept hoping it would turn off somewhere, but no, it went all the way to the end of Weldin with me only a few yards behind. It parked while I splashed to the end of the lot. As it was a dead-end, I had to go back out. While I gave the car a wide berth, a woman got out of it and screamed just as I ran by. I had totally surprised her. I muttered apologies and ran out of there.


That, my friends is all for August 2021.

Splashing in Spring Garden

RATS #00442 – Spring Garden and Troy Hill

Spring Garden seems to summon the rain. For this run, RATS #00442, I was prepared. I brought a zip-lock bag for my phone just in case, but for a few minutes thought I wouldn’t need it.

I parked on Herr’s Island under the 31st Street Bridge and romped past the tennis courts to the northern end. I could see far-away thunderstorms, but here there were only a few drops. The Rialto Street steps were under construction, so I had to go the long way along the “trail” next to Route 28 and ascend Troy Hill Road. On this roundabout way to Rialto Street I ran by E&C Beer Distributor with its grinning horse. I wonder, did he get a glug-glug of apple cider? Rialto continues off its famous slope into the heart of Troy Hill, where I ran past this house built around 1880.

Mt. Troy Road and Luty Avenue have broad views of Pittsburgh. I believe that’s Lower Lawrenceville and Polish Hill getting rained on. Luty Avenue ended unceremoniously in a weird little hut structure.

Now, a more rational person (probably not a runner) might have thought, “Wow, look at those storms. I should go inside, because it will probably rain here soon.”

My inner dialog was more like “Look at all that rain WAY OVER THERE. It’s probably not going to rain on ME. Besides…how wet could I get?” ( I said these same words earlier this summer and apparently didn’t learn how much clouds hate that.) Coming off of Mt. Troy Road, I sped down Wicklines Street, using the momentum to carry me across Spring Garden Avenue onto High Street. And that’s where it began. A burst of thunder, kids and parents scrambling to get out of the rain, and me, happily running along Spring Garden Avenue.

The rain was pretty heavy, but seemed to taper off as I approached the safe haven of Family Dollar. Since the rain was stopping, I went ahead and slogged up the very steep Mauch Street. It climbs about 100′ in well under one tenth of a mile and Strava shows it with a 43.7% grade! Hmm, that seems dubious.

Nonetheless, I proceeded onto another section of Mt. Troy Road where a curve dips into Pittsburgh briefly. The rain intensified. I thought there might be a place to duck in for a moment. But no, lightning bolts and bursts of thunder surrounded me and there was no place to hide. I sloshed to Fornof Lane and back to Mauch. Finally the rain tapered off. I had planned to go further north along Spring Garden Avenue, but cut things short, heading back down instead. The back-yard ducks seemed pretty happy, though.

As I neared Threadbare Cider, my sense of adventure returned and I explored Tell Street. In days of yore, cats ruled this street. Nearby, someone had even constructed a home for wayward cats; patriotically painted with stars and stripes. I didn’t see the cat house nor the cats this time. A house at the bottom of Tell Street was being renovated, but the houses higher on the hill are digressing, with broken windows and climbing vines.

There’s a gentle set of steps from Tell to Voskamp above. Vines arch between fences, making a tunnel of lovely green. There’s a shy old yellow house on Voskamp Street, keeping back from the street.

I returned to Herr’s Island along the pedestrian trail waterway adjacent to Route 28. Just a pitter-patter of rain now, but the hills were still streaming with water.

Flooded Pedestrian Trail Along Route 28

Short August Runs

Here are a few short runs from August.


RATS #00438 – California-Kirkbride and Marshall-Shadeland

Here’s a little Sunday funday runday. Fivish miles in California-Kirkbride and Marshall-Shadeland. With the bulk of the streets done, it was more about going down back alleys than an expansive opening of an area. Accordingly, while starting in Allegheny West, I made my way up California Avenue. Flowers at the corner of Marshall Avenue and California Avenue were as bright as the day.

Moving up Superior Street, I took a side trip on Seiffert Way to Thelma Way. On Google Maps, it looks like Thelma Way goes through. It doesn’t. Rather it ends in a tangle of weeds and branches. Seiffert Way and Ludene Way were as advertised; short, dead-end alleys. I wonder how many times I’ve used ‘dead-end’ in this blog. At least a thousand. Next stop was Bland Street. How Bland was it?

Really Really Bland

Pushing forward through the myopic, dystopic fog, I came to a ballfield and Unit 56, waiting for orders. Unit 56 looks a little forlorn. Has the Mothership abandoned it? Did no one pick it for the team? How long has it been sitting there, with weeds growing into its brain?

It was all downhill from here, though I had an AMAZING time!


RATS #00439 into Duck Hollow

This run was even shorter than the last. I just wanted to complete a couple of streets in Duck Hollow. Rather late one Tuesday evening I made my way there via a bike trail below Summerset. Trails go off the main one into old slag heaps, although this one was apparently closed.

Duck Hollow has four streets and maybe twenty houses. It is at the confluence of Nine-Mile Run and the Monongahela River. After some research I found a nice Pitt News article about it. Surprisingly enough, I sometimes run with Mike Portogallo whom they interviewed. Small world.

I do have some news! McFarren Street has been rerouted over a new bridge. Perhaps now Duck Hollow residents can get deliveries to their door. My pictures of the Hollow, itself, came out rather fuzzy between my running and the dusky light.

I went in on the new bridge and came out on the old, open grate bridge. The railroad trestle is striking in the twilight.

Finally, I came out onto the parking lot above the Mon. Sure enough, folks of all shapes and sizes were hanging out, enjoying the evening. I enjoyed the view of the river and the Homestead High Level Bridge.

Homestead High Level Bridge

RATS #00440 in Brookline

Another short, evening run; this time in Brookline. July Way, Harex Way and Tariff Way were my goals. July and Harex I got, but Tariff Way continues to frustrate me.

There’s a street sign on Sussex Avenue at it’s intersection with Tariff. I dutifully did that little driveway section which, incidentally, doesn’t even show up on CityStrides or Google Maps. Meanwhile the other section of Tariff Way, off of Thistle Street, goes about twenty yards before arriving at a broad expanse of lawn. I suppose I need to go across the lawn and have a beer at the neighbors for CityStrides to recognize it. Argh!

At any rate, it was a decent little run on a hot summer’s evening. I even got to do the Stebbins Steps, again.


RATS #00441 in Greenfield

This is a Greenfield Re-Run. I was retracing a route which CityStrides hadn’t picked up. While that was initially a bit annoying, it turned out to be a good run with some amazing views. I love this one from the corner of Lydia and Bigelow.

From there I wrapped around a couple of alleys, some which dropped me into backyards, some of which allowed me passage. The grapevine arbor was pretty cool.

Eventually I found my way to Tasso Street, which has two distinct sections joined by the Noah Street steps and the Bud Hammer baseball field. The home team must have won, as heavenly beams of light shone down on the field.

And that was all, 4ish miles on a hot August evening. My watch recorded over 600 feet of elevation in this run. Not sure I believe that.


So, there are a few more runs in August I haven’t recorded here. I’ll get to those in the next blog. Thanks for reading along.

Pears in the Pittsburgh Jungle

RATS #00436 in Oakland, South and West

RATS #00436 was a Saturday morning run in late July. I was aiming to capture Juno Street and a few streets in the Middle Hill. Juno Street starts down in Panther Hollow, but I had seen some steps just off the Boulevard of Allies that I thought might be a short-cut. I was on the right track, but the wonky wooden steps had been hit by trees. Trunks snapped by recent storms had broken the railings and lay across the steps. I’ve found that, sometimes, a path is clearer from the opposite direction, so I went around, hoping to come up Juno from Panther Hollow. However, after weaving through the Pittsburgh jungle, I came to the end of Juno Street as private drive replete with “No Trespassing” signs and (alleged) dogs.

Somewhat defeated, I trotted back down into Panther Hollow to take the Dawson Street Steps back into Oakland. Those, at least, were well maintained. I made my way down Bates Street to Technology Drive at the bottom. It looks so modern compared to the streets a half mile away.

Having enough of modernity, I re-crossed Second Avenue and traipsed up Hodges and Mackey Street. Here I went back at least 75 years. Hodges Street, as small as it is, has a couple of branches. I went up the left branch, assuming I’d find steps up to Lawn Street, but all I found were pears. They looked good, too, but I didn’t eat any. Keeping the slim figure, ya know.

Mackey Street, for its part, was much more overgrown. Steps sprouted from the end of the asphalt and clung to life as they ascended to Love Street. These steps weren’t in very good condition either, with stray tires and missing treads.

Nonetheless, I made it up to Craft Avenue and continued onto Fifth Avenue. Moving towards the Middle Hill, I took Brenham Street off of Fifth. It is a spit of asphalt splitting into the a jungle after 25 yards. Nothing there, so it was back to Fifth Avenue. A few yards further, the Mohawk Street steps gave me a shortcut Beelen Street. On the right, Beelen, has it’s own dead-end into a verdant Pittsburgh hillside while the left leads to Kirkpatrick Street. I took a sharp right onto Gazzam Avenue which was longer than I expected. No surprise, it dead-ended into a steep hillside covered with vines. There was a house back there, which I gave a wide berth.

From here, I just wound my way up Bentley Drive to Terrace Village (aka Oak Hill). I finished off Waring Court, an undeveloped street loping toward…you guessed it, a jungle.

This run complemented my earlier run into the Middle Hill from Downtown (run #00435). It turns out this was the last run in July and the last run in Pittsburgh until the middle of August. July was a big running month for me, with 134 miles, including 38 miles at Hell Hath No Hurry.

Roads Les Travld

RATS #00435 Middle Hill and Oakland

After work on a Friday, what to do? Head home and battle traffic? Naw

Happy Hour? Naw, a couple a beers and THEN battle traffic; no thanks.

Run? Of course!

Ironically enough, one of my cardinal rules has been to NOT run on hot Friday afternoons through sketchy areas. But there I was, on a sunny, hot summer Friday evening running through the Hill District . Spoiler alert, I survived, just slightly dehydrated.

At any rate, I ran across the Andy Warhol Bridge, through downtown and up Centre Avenue. First on my list were McClarren Street and Midtown Square. I was a little puzzled why I hadn’t hit these earlier. Then I got there and realized, they were just off of Wylie Avenue using the ole “street which looks like a driveway” ruse. Midtown Square was a cute little street at the top of a hill. McClarren was just a bit of asphalt disappearing into the greenery.

From here, I had a tour of lesser-user roads. Verdant Way, Upton Road, Jacobus Way were all deserted and blocked with debris. Oh yeah, Upton Road needs to be mowed.

Now I was intent on finding Whitney Terrace, allegedly across Centre Avenue and up past Brackenridge. The Watt Street steps shortened my journey.

So, I’m not sure if I found Whitney Terrace or not. The spot which the map indicated as Whitney Terrace was just a hillside of greenery. However, just twenty yards further on Brackenridge, I found steps up the hillside. Its likely those were just steps to a house. Nonetheless, I took them anyway.

After some bushwhacking I came to the top, where white tarps shaded precious salt for Pitt’s campus. I wandered into the Oak Hill complex and finally found my way out along Allequippa Street. Dodging into Wyandotte Street, I made it to the garden-end as a UPS tried to come down the street and got stuck.

With that, I made it out to Robinson Street, browsed a Little Library and trotted back to the Northside via Centre Avenue. Is there still time for the beer?

Pittsburgh Developments

Here are two short July runs chipping away at the block of incomplete streets. The first was in Hazelwood Green. The second on the North Side.


RATS Run #00433 in Hazelwood Green

This run was just a couple of miles in a rapidly developing area. “Hazelwood Green” now sits where the Hazelwood Coke Works once stood. Where once molten steel was poured, cooled and pounded, is a broad field of flowers. The superstructure of Mill 19 still stands and is being re-purposed for advanced manufacturing.

With re-development, new streets are popping up. When I thought of this project, Hazelwood Green was just an idea on a whiteboard. Before long, Blair Street was opened and little else. Now Lytle Street and Beehive Street have emerged.

Lytle Street took me from one end of Mill 19 to the other. Bright yellow gantries still stand, even outside the finished offices, while the unfinished area stretches a tenth of a mile under rusty steel girders.

Beehive Street goes to the now-defunct part of Second Avenue. I would imagine that that will be re-opened soon, too. It’s too early to tell whether the Rutherglen Street Footbridge will ever be re-opened. It was closed off when I ran by. From this broad curve on the banks of the Monongahela, you can see downtown. However, smoke from western wildfires muted the skyline that day.

That was it, two-ish miles.


RATS Run #00434 in the Strip District and North Side

This was a “busted play”. I had arrived at a City of Bridges group run too late to join in. So, I basically did the same route, but veered off to finish off a couple of streets, primarily North Canal.

Old map showing North Canal Street

Speaking of North Canal, I was fortunate enough to see an old real-estate atlas of Pittsburgh. Sure enough, before the massive I-279, Route 28, Veteran’s Bridge interchange was constructed, North Canal went continuously along the north side of a railroad trestle. South Canal was on the Pittsburgh side of the tracks. Nowadays, North Canal is interrupted by the highways. One section comes off of East Street to the North Side Giant Eagle. Another, disjoint section, lives on as a driveway into the Sarah Heinz House parking lot.

On my way to North Canal Street, I crossed the 16th Street Bridge. As it rises out of the Strip District, you can see some of the condo’s being constructed there. Those brick condos are going from $525K. I wonder if they realized the ones across the street would block their view of the Allegheny.

I caught up with the advertised route after finding the elusive “6” along Lacock Street. From there it was around the point and back to Lawrenceville, where beer and friends awaited.

Wish you were here

RATS #00432, Lawrenceville, Polish Hill, Troy Hill

RATS run #00432 covered a lot of ground, from Bloomfield/ Lower Lawrenceville through Polish Hill, into Troy Hill and the edge of Reserve Township. I started around noon with a leisurely Type-B pace which contrasted with the rigorous Type-A route I was following.

Foster Way, an alley off of the alley Obregon Way, was my first stop. Then it was on to the downside end of Lodi Way. Turning onto Lodi Way, I felt eyes upon me and hurried past.

My next stop was a section of Clement Way, between transformers and a ball field. It is funny how I rarely notice power substations, in spite of their size. I like the way the “Business Exchange” building stands out; perhaps it is the sandy color contrasting with the stormy clouds behind it. Also, do you think there are enough power lines there?

“Spray Paint on Corrugated Steel” could be an art installation decrying the gentrification of street art, but of course its not. It’s just graffiti. The back of that apartment complex on Clement Way was surprisingly ratty. With the booming real-estate market in Lawrenceville, I figured they would at least clean the building.

Moving on, I looped back and crossed the Bloomfield Bridge to come out on Oscar Way. I think the Grouch would be happy here, collecting garbage from those steps. Speaking of steps (and graffiti), I took the Finland Street steps across Bigelow Boulevard and was kinda impressed with this piece of street art. I took it as a “Oh no, I’m 40!” message. Undoubtedly, it means something else.

From here, my path took me down Ridgeway Street, with Leander being my eventual goal. I hadn’t done a huge amount of research, so wasn’t sure exactly what would be waiting for me on Leander. Turns out, it was just another Pittsburgh street, clinging to the hillside and going nowhere. I was actually surprised how well-kept the houses were. That gray shed caught my eye, with its small extra door cut in the big door, with a sign “Low Clearance”! What? Why not just use the big door? I suppose there are reasons…

Luckily for me, I had an escape route from Leander and didn’t have to go all the way back to Herron. The 30th Street Steps took me down to Bigelow. Further down, a section of the same steps are blocked off at Paulowna.

Speaking of Paulowna, it lead me right past the pool at the West Penn Community Recreation Center. For some reason, I had always called that the “Polish Hill Recreation Center”, but I stand corrected. The pool wasn’t open and not even filled with water, which was a shame, because a dip in the pool would have felt great. But the driveway to the pool was a red-herring. I needed to take the lower path which took me past a ball field, with a game in progress. This was actually a fortunate find, as I needed to do Kenny Way, the alley on the other side. I often have concerns about the safety of dead-end alleys, but, so far, its always been OK. This one did narrow after Harran Street, but continued above back-yards only to pop-out in the parking lot of Mt. Horran Baptist Church. The back end of Brereton took my down into the Strip District.

Now I made my way across the 31st Street Bridge. Downtown was obscured by a thundershower. However, once I realized that showers were upstream as well, I put away my phone and took no more pictures.

That was a wise move, but it didn’t really start raining in earnest until I had powered up Rialto and was on the far side of Troy Hill. By the way, the words “Just how wet can I get?” apparently angers storm clouds. They just try harder. Coming down the Wicklines River, I made a left on Spring Garden Creek then up Lager Falls. The knotweed made a nice canopy on Wet Purse Way, but eventually I had to get going again. I splashed through a few more Troy Hill streets and squished my way back to Liberty Avenue via the 40th Street Bridge, passing a wet band in the Millvale Riverfront Park en route.

Summer Runs and The Flags Are Waving

Here are three short runs from July. I’m not exploring new neighborhoods much, but filling in the lines for small streets I’ve missed. But, I must say, there are usually photo ops, because Pittsburgh is such a photogenic city.


RATS Run #00429 – Oakland

“The shortest distance between two points is…UNDER CONSTRUCTION!” That’s how this run started, for sure. I intended to take Robert’s Drive from Frew Street down to Panther Hollow, but was sorely disappointed. For a moment there, I hoped to scoot around the barrier, thinking it was just the intersection that was blocked. But no, the whole damn hillside is being remodeled. This road used to wind through several CMU engineering buildings.

Oh well, time to be flexible and use the alternate route. This one took me past a cloaked Columbus and behind Phipps. For awhile, I thought that street was just a driveway, but it does lead to a back entrance to Phipps, high over Panther Hollow. Looking across, I could see lower Oakland and Pitt rising high on the hill. Does anyone else ‘see’ a figure in the clouds? A figure with a ragged hat squashing lots of hair with his arm up?

From here I ran past the Cathedral of Learning and through that South Oakland scene. My target was Dawson Court. It was easy to find, complete with a street sign. However, CityStrides contends that there’s another Dawson Court, down the street from the one I found. I suppose the OpenStreetsMap needs to be updated.

Dawson Court, from Google Maps (left) and CityStrides (right)

Nonetheless, the Cathedral looked great in the twilight. Dimling Way, was, you guessed it, dimly lit. It’s more of a path between apartments these days rather than a real street. I also touched on a little end of an alley off of Frazier Street, right before the long steps to Bates. From there, I trundled back to Frew Street, a few miles down and a few streets covered.