Unique Streets: 11
Miles Walked: 4.56
Street Names (italicized have been walked on another day; underlined are not in the city): Penn Avenue, 26th Street, Spruce Way, 28th Street, Smallman Street, 29th Street, 31st Street Bridge, River Avenue, 30th Street Bridge, Route 28, Rialto Street, Mt. Troy Road, Pittview Avenue, Logan Street, Maryland Avenue, E. Ohio Street, 40th Street Bridge, 39th Street, Foster Street, Lodi Way, Mineral Way, 38th Street, Charlotte Street, Yazoo Way, Melville Way, 37th Street, Zula Way, 36th Street, Butler Street, 34th Street, Liberty Avenue, Cabinet Way, Denny Street, Hyoid Way, Ligonier Street, 33rd Street, Haskell Way, 32nd Street, 31st Street, Mulberry Way.
In the mornings before I walk, I take a look at my map and see what glaring gaps jump out at me. The rivers remain largely untouched for reasons based on personal experience. In high school my boyfriend had a boat and we would take it down river on the weekends. I usually avoided getting in the water because of the things we would see floating by the boat like empty bags of cheetohs, condoms, and dead animals. One day, my friend Kristin’s boyfriend Dan who was a perpetual jokester, decided to pick me up and throw me into the river. Like most practical jokes pulled off by Dan, this was not entirely thought through and he didn’t notice I was wearing my glasses. Luckily for him, I somehow managed to catch them before they sank to the murky bottom. The next day, I had pink eye. Thanks Dan!
Fortunately, there are many bridges that span the rivers, so I am somewhat able to fill in that blue-online, brown-in-reality gap. For this walk, I decided to park in the Strip and walk across the 31st Street Bridge, up Rialto Street, and then find my way over to the 40th Street bridge in Lower Lawrenceville. I covered a lot of ground that I’d already walked but did manage to get 11 new streets.
It took me 35 minutes to find a parking space in the Strip amidst all of the sprouting condominium buildings. I got a hot tea at DiAnoia’s Eatery so I could use their bathroom before my long walk. Outside the restaurant, I paused at a garbage can to remove the tea bag and the tea lid fell on the ground. This was before the Corona Virus panic had set in but there was no way I was putting something that had been on the ground in my mouth. The tea was too hot and too full to carry while walking so I ended up tossing it. So, it’s going to be that kind of walk, is it?
I made my way to the 31st street bridge and began admiring all of the graffiti on its posts and rails.
My favorite little bat hanging from his feet appeared intermittently on the bridge long with messages like “The Future’s in the Past” and “Non Line Ar Wa Ve.”
Before I started out over the water, I looked down into a parking lot and saw a fleet of self-driving Uber cars parked next to a line of wrecked cars.
Near the end of the bridge, I noticed a Smiley face and it gave me chills. (See Smiley Face Killers: The Hunt For Justice examines possible serial murders in Pittsburgh)
At the end of the 31st Street Bridge I found an X made of baking flour.
These markings are left by the hash house harriers and mark the trail that the group followed recently. I figured they came from Washington’s Landing/Herr’s Island and looked towards that direction to see a Pittsburgh Protractor!
I walked down a bit and found another.
Since George and I had already covered all of this tiny island, I went back up and crossed 28.
At the bottom of Rialto Street I paused to snap some pictures of the intense grade of the roadway.
Rialto Street is the 5th steepest street in Pittsburgh and it boasts a 25% grade. While it may not be as steep as Canton, Dornbush, Boustead, or East Woodford; Rialto is utilized as a major way of entry for Troy Hill. It is also so narrow at only 20 feet wide that it just barely fits two cars passing each other and that is if they both turn in their side mirrors. I took the stairs that line the side of the street and frequently paused to catch my breath. On the muddy hillside to my left, I could see ruins of cement stairs that lead to crumbling stone and brick foundations covered in graffiti and weeds.
The other side of the steep hill was lined with telephone poles that displayed curious signs asking people not to litter. “Don’t be Hog on Pig Hill. No Littering” and a pig with a brush by its rear: “Keep Rialto Clean.”
Rialto street was used to transport pigs from the train depot on Herr’s Island to the slaughterhouses in Spring Garden.
I continued up the hill, pausing in front of a plain house at 1812 Rialto Street.
The house is yellow brick and the bare front porch is partially blocked by a red and white striped awning. A passerby would be excused if they didn’t give the simple exterior more than a cursory glance. This house holds a secret. Known as La Hutte Royale, the house is one large art installation by German artist Thorsten Brinkmann. Tours of the house are by appointment only and because I never know where I’m going to be any given day, I’ve never been.
I continued up Rialto until I left Pittsburgh and entered Reserve Township. Walking on Mt. Troy Road and then Pittview Avenue, I was presented an expansive view of Lawrenceville and the aftermath of a landslide between the city and the township.
Few tall trees survived the earth’s movement, but the majority of the hill is covered by low bushes. Nature is reclaiming it but for the time being, the lack of trees provides a great view of the river below. The city skyline appeared from behind Troy Hill as I rounded the curve.
It was distracting but I did keep an eye on my immediate surroundings. A group of smashed mushrooms littered the road near a sewer vent that held a spilled mess of kielbasa and haluski.
A speed limit sign bore an important graffiti message: “Titty Sprinkles.”
There was also more flour left by the hashers.
I was accidentally following an ancient trail that friends had followed some time before. As I was walking, I posted to the group and asked them when the trail was held. Someone commented that the yellowing flour was still there from a trail in November.
Pittview Avenue was long and eventually, brought me into Millvale.
I walked around the grounds of St. Nicholas Catholic Church and hoped that I could step inside to the see the Croatian artist Maxo Vanka’s murals that don the walls but alas, the tours are only on the weekends. 0-2 on tours today.
I made my way down to East Ohio Street, under 28, and up to the 40th Street Bridge.
On the bridge, I noticed state seals on the railings.
Initially I thought that every state would be represented but then they started repeating themselves. A plaque at the end of the bridge told me that George Washington crossed the Allegheny in this exact spot on December 29, 1753.
An article about the bridge on WESA.fm enlightened me to the fact that they represent the 13 original colonies.
Now that I was in Lawrenceville, I expected to make a quick trip down Penn to my car.
I did not expect to find more unwalked streets in the area between the 40th and 31st street bridges. Lodi Way, Mineral Way Charlotte Street, Yazoo Way, Melville Way, Zula Way, Hyoid Way: most of these were mere alleys and Yazoo and Zula were barely even that and mostly meant for pedestrians.
Even so, I’ll take any new additions to my collection.
I had a great burger at Burghers Brewing on Butler and then made my way back to the Strip District making sure to visit some of the huge murals in that area.