Unique Streets: 24
Miles Walked: 6.63
Street Names (italicized have been walked on another day, underlined are not in the city): Broadhead Fording Road, Mazette Road, Mazette Place, W. Prospect Avenue, Escolta Street, Eric Way, Fairywood Street, Fairwood Street, South Court, West Court, Beechnut Drive, Industrial Boulevard, Roswell Drive, Woodmere Drive, Ingram Avenue, Steuben Street, W. Steuben Street, Duncan Avenue, N. Duane Street, Valois Street, Linshaw Avenue, Noll Avenue, Victory Place, Berry Street, Ladoga Street, Weller Street, Kathy Drive, McCaw Drive, Windgap Avenue, Village Road, East Court, Von Bonnhorst Street, Old Orchard Circle.
Today I decided to tackle Fairywood as it is one of the westernmost neighborhoods and I had to get back home early to get Johnny off the bus for an early dismissal. I was supposed to meet a friend but he never showed. Alexis has a reputation among our group for showing up randomly all over the place. We joke that he has the ability to teleport himself places. Because of his history, I expected him to be behind him every time I heard a strange noise. It was unnerving but I kept going. It turns out he was trying to find me, but I was amazingly, one step ahead of him at all times. The map above shows both of our routes. Mine is the pink one and his is the red. He didn’t have his phone on him to let me know he was looking for me so he just ate my dust instead 🙂 Sorry Alexis!
I walked a few streets near where I parked and then entered a field that epitomizes the term ‘Urban Prairie.’
I saw deer, bunnies, birds, and not a single other human (although there were signs of them in their left-behind refuse.) The field actually has named streets: Fairwood, West Court, South Court because it used to be a housing project called Broadhead Manor. The homes were built by the US government in 1944 as housing for workers in war industries.
Even now, the entire neighborhood is surrounded by light industry. Amazon, Modcloth, Giant Eagle, and UPS all have distribution warehouses there. In 1953, the homes were changed into housing for low-income families. Over the years, vacancy and crime increased. It was known to be a troubled area and its downfall was inevitable. In 2004, flooding from Hurricane Ivan forced the remaining 47 families out and the plan was abandoned. (Source: https://www.post-gazette.com/local/city/2011/02/19/Broadhead-Manor-is-ready-for-rebirth-but-exactly-as-what/stories/201102190125)
Now, all that remains are these piles of rubble and the sidewalks that used to lead to their former purpose as buildings. Walking here left me feeling nostalgic and hopeful. Nature is, as we speak, taking back the land where children once played, families had Sunday dinner, and people lived their lives.
I left Broadhead Manor and headed down the Industrial Highway. The express highway is sandwiched between Chartiers Creek and railroad tracks and was once meant to connect all the way to 51 in Esplen. For some reason that plan was abandoned and now the highway ends right at Beechnut Street. If you’re adventurous, you can explore the part of the highway that is inaccessible to cars (cement barriers block the way.) It can still be walked and provides a nice nature trail along the creek.
On the side of the highway, I spied a load of watermelons that I assumed fell off of a Giant Eagle Truck. Looks like the deer had a yummy snack.
Trucks and cars quickly come and go between the warehouses and Steubenville Pike which leads to Interstate 79 or Crafton, depending on which direction they turn. I got up to this intersection and went left thinking I could hit some city streets there. For some reason, I was under the impression that parts of Ingram sat in the city limits. A look at my map showed me that I was wrong. I ended up walking quite a bit in Crafton and then Ingram to get into Windgap.
Once in Windgap, I took a long walk up a steep hill (Ladoga) to walk on 3 COP streets: Weller, Kathy, and McCaw. After that, I was glad that Windgap road was downhill. It was long, winding, and there were no sidewalks. I had to continuously cross the street when blind curves could mean that a car too close to the side, might hit me. As I was walking, I continuously saw signs for something called Emerald Gardens. I speculated what that could be. An urban farm? An aquatic plant store? Nope. It’s a former low-income housing plan turned gated plan of townhomes.
The main road that they all sit off of is called Village Road but each section of homes, has its own precious stone-themed name: Emerald, Sapphire, Opal, Onyx, Pearl, etc. I am fairly certain that those are not official city-given names so while I did walk each one, I am not counting them towards my final list.
At the end of the plan, there sits a small park and a large pool that has been empty so long that it has several trees growing in it.
Fairywood is a real-time natural experiment in what happens when the people disappear.