Unique Streets Walked: 46
Miles Walked: 4.5
Street Names: California, Cottage, Grenada, Davis, Mexico, Fairlee, Falck, Massachusetts, Deer, Kalorama, Chidell, Fleming, Rankin, Antrim, Richardson, Bainton, Hybla, Jupiter, Mount Hope, McClure, Gurnee, Lecky, Malden, Hubbard, Sipe, Hertzog, Letort, Lee, Orchlee, Shadeland, Termon, Morell, Hiawatha, Stonelea, Pontiac, Wynona, Ketler, Wilksboro, Gittens, McFarland, Wealth, Millerton, Bletcher, Elmhurst, Verner Ave, Verner Court
This was my longest walk to date at 4.5 miles. The weather was beautiful. I had nowhere to be for a few hours. It was a great walk. I began in Brighton Heights at the California Coffee Bar on California Avenue. Brighton Heights is the westernmost neighborhood on the North side of the Ohio River. This makes it easy to get to even with the building traffic at the McKees Rocks Bridge. I walked a few of the streets on the south side of California before crossing to the higher side of the hill. Many streets were tree-lined and all were strictly residential, save for a few churches. I found a set of city stairs that were marked by a sign that said “Rankin Avenue” and had a green square on the end with a set of stairs depicted in it. The sign is meant to indicate that the street continues at the top, and it did.
I went up and then back down Kalorama way to the Richardson/Antrim intersection. I ended up missing two dead-end alleys (Savoy and Rubric) that I thought I might get back to at some point during the walk, but I kept going further away. I walked down Richardson and noticed a lot with driveways leading into it. It obviously used to be home of something large that necessitated multiple driveways. I thought it might be a mansion or maybe a school.
I spied my map (on my phone of course) and noticed that there appeared to be a paper street I could use to cut off a large portion of my walk but still hit the same streets. A paper street is basically an idea of a street that never happened. My friend Kristin’s husband Steve and I were talking about them recently and since then, I’ve been trying to find them. Technically, they are public land but if the city doesn’t maintain or make repairs to them for 21 years, they are ceded to the property owners on either side. My personal rule about them is be quiet, walk fast, and try not to touch anything. I figured that there was a way to get from Bainton to Richardson (which led to Woods Run) and once again, my stairs intuition was right. I saw a grass pathway that lead to a set of stairs. As I walked towards the stairs, the pathway turned to asphalt. I did see yellow caution tape on one tree but it wasn’t across the way to the stairs so I proceeded.
At the top, I paused to take in the strange beauty. The sun shining through the skeletal trees and morning fog created an other-worldly appearance. Dead kudzu vines covered every surface and streams of melting snow coursed among the trees and manmade rock debris. My awe was cut short when I turned with the stairs to see a landfill that didn’t belong. Residents on either side of the steps used the hill to throw away pretty much everything. Days-old bags of garbage, old TVs, a couch, a rusty grill cover. The stairs themselves weren’t in too bad shape but all around them, was hellscape.
I exited the staircase and found myself in Woods Run. This neighborhood of Pittsburgh is in a Valley that runs to the Ohio River. The valley is only a few streets wide and I walked among them noticing more houses with accidental waterfalls in their backyards. Walking on Lecky I peered between buildings to see a cut-out hill patched with multicolored bricks. They almost looked like Legos or a game of rocky tetris.
I walked up McClure and found the other side of that large empty property. There was a mini asphalt turnaround that I walked trying to get an idea of what could have stood there. A half a block away I asked a man walking his dog if he knew what used to be there. He told me he thought it used to be St. John’s Hospital. He was right. St. John’s Hospital closed in 1997 and is now home to the St. John’s Greenway. In 2011 the Bright Heights Citizens Federation mentioned in an article in the Northside Chronicle that they were trying to raise money to build houses there. I found this picture of St. John’s Hospital on the Facebook Page The Odd, Mysterious & Fascinating History of Pittsburgh.
I walked up by Pittsburgh Morrow 6-8 Campus and squished my way across the playground. I looked at this area on the G. M. Hopkins map and apparently the school used to house the Home for Widows and Orphans of Odd Fellows.
Eventually, I meandered back across California but decided I could do some more walking. I walked fourteen more streets in this area of Brighton Heights. I came to a dead end on Wilksboro and found a closed foot bridge that used to span a deep valley. Further research showed me that Wilksboro actually continues on the other side.
Walking up Gittens Street I saw a black dog running loose through a yard and my guard was up. We both stopped and stared at each other. I tried to talk friendly to it but it was frozen like a dog statue. Reluctantly, I turned my back on it and saw a penned Pot-bellied pig basking in the sun in a front yard. I’m not sure who the dog was staring at like it was. I’m hoping it was the pig and not me. I bent over the fence and the Pig started wagging its tail at me. I called it over and wobbled to the fence. I scratched its head (back?) and it continued wagging its rear at me. Never thought I would see a pet pig in the city but here I am.