Unique Streets: 35
Miles Walked: 5.16
Street Names (italicized have been walked on another day): Johnston Avenue, Mansion Street, Trowbridge Way, Winston Street, Mercia Way, Choctaw Way, Gertrude Street, Melanchton Street, Dyke Street, Lytle Street, Courtland Street, Chaplain Way, W. Elizabeth Street, Blair Street, Ladora Way, Lanhorn Street, Path Way, Tecumeseh Street, Roma Way, Gloster Street, 2nd Avenue, American Street, Herbert Way, Vespucius Street, Renova Street, Sickle Street, Alluvian Street, Ellis Way, Allegheny Terrace, Glenbar Way, Gate Lodge Way, Glenwood Avenue, Sunnyside Street, Shrub Way, Cust Street, Penrose Street, Jason Way, Fedora Way, Almeda Street, Pawpaw Way, Pauley Avenue, Kelso Way, Varga Way, Ashton Avenue.
Hazelwood has been calling me since I walked there with my friend Eric in March 2019. We’d managed to cover over 8 miles of streets back then but there were still quite a few that I was missing. My plan on this hot July day was to walk across the Glenwood Bridge into Hays and back. As with many of life’s plans lately, that didn’t happen.
I parked near the spray park in the corner of Johnson and Mansion and headed down the hill. I was aiming for the scant collection of streets between the railroad tracks and the river. It was immediately apparent that this area used to be filled with rowhouses. Over time and periods of neglect, more than half of those houses have been torn down. The result is single family homes with large side yards and plenty of house remnants hanging out for everyone to see. I admired bathroom tile work, the void of missing wainscoting, and faux marble mantles at second-story heights.
In one alley, I found a Benz with busted out windows in front of a home with boarded up windows. The transom above the wide-open front door was long lost to a vandal. Upstairs through the glassless frame I could see a purple curtain swaying in the breeze.
Soon, I found myself approaching a pedestrian bridge that went over another set of railroad tracks.
It soared over a recycling plant, invasive weeds, and a scrap car mountain.
It was covered in trash. I admired the post-industrial wasteland for a bit and descended on the other side of the tracks. It was hot and garbage day. The smell wafting from cracked cans was rancid but the alley cats didn’t mind.
They feasted until the green and yellow truck came barreling down the cobblestone. I sidestepped piles of shit that were either from a large canine or desperate human being.
I was finally out of the grimy alley and I stopped to admire a tastefully done military memorial near a well-maintained crimson brick house.
There was still pride in this area of Hazelwood. Closer to the river, multiple Virgins Mary open-handedly blessed a sidewalk in the shape of a cross.
Across the street a console TV, tipped on its side, wheels useless, stranded next to a telephone pole.
There’s no gilding the lily here and the Marys have their work cut out for them.
I walked closer to the tracks and found a newer playground called Lylte Land that hearkened back mental images of Liliput and Gulliver being strung to the ground. On the side of the autobridge that transversed the tracks, I admired an expansive mural that looked like it came out of a game of Candyland.
A path of brightly colored squares intertwined with black and white imagery spanned a wall almost a block long. Some of these squares were filled in with words. Normal words, happy words, sad words, shameful words, painful words. In place of Gumdrop Mountain, Rainbow Trail, or Lollipop Woods this game of Lytle Land in Hazelwood had: colonization, MOUNDS, LAND, VALLEY, WATER, ERASURE, TRIBES, tracks, THRIVE, steamboats, LOVE, FAMILIES, RIVER, PEOPLE, SOOT, WATER, Plans, closures, LOVE, FAMILIES, COAL, Boxers, Football, dispersion, EAGLE, ANIMALS, disinvestment, LOSS, coke overs, KRUNK, SMOKE, Playwrights, Robots, Athletes, brownfield, FIRE, Dancing, HILLS, Music, ACCESS, technology, AIR, Stones, Renewal, BUILD, STEEL, NETWORKS, LOVE, THRIVE, PEOPLE.
It was a powerful statement for a neighborhood that has had too little power of choice in their own outcomes. Brownfields become testing tracks for robotic cars and coke ovens become exercise trails for all of the transplanted humans that build them.
Under the bridge to the other side of the railroad tracks, a silent train was on its way to nowhere. Hazelwood can’t say the same whether it wants to or not.
Back on Second Avenue, I walked down to Dylamato’s Market for a hoagie. It hit the spot. Afterwards, I walked an alley that ran parallel to Second Avenue and found some strange groupings of items. Chairs sat in a semi circle near a makeshift shower spigot, the source coming from the house across the street.
I was approaching the Glenwood Bridge but had already walked a pretty good amount. I decided to cover some of the streets on the other side of Second as I ascended back to my car. What a climb!
From Alluvian Street I spied a pool surrounded by horror movie figures, paintings, and flags.
This was pretty strange and I wanted to get closer to see what it was all about. I went around the corner and found a man sitting on the front steps of the spooky house, fixing his weed wacker. I introduced my self and he told me his name is John. The yard in question is his and that as an artist, he drew all of the portraits himself.
Further up the road, the woods encroached and showed signs of life.
Taking a break from the climb, I went lateral and found a brand new house which was the only dwelling on its street. Strange.
A semi-hidden set of stairs brought me further up.
More lateral moves and I found a trampoline on top of a shack.
Who was this contraption for? Elderly squirrels? Daring children? Maybe this guy who reminded me a bit too much of Pennywise the Clown…
I never found out what it was for but I can’t stop thinking about the random trampoline on top of a roof.