With storm clouds having chased us clear out of Beltzhoover for the past two weekends, we swore that on this day, we would do the walk, rain or shine. It was rain. We started at the corner of East Warrington and Beltzhoover Avenue, ready for the soggy feet that lay ahead.
At Warrington and Estella, we approached the Warrington Recreation Center, a community center that offers after-school programs and sports leagues (in collaboration with YouthPlaces), community meeting space, and a public pool.
Colorful mosaics and graffiti surround the area.
Two monuments honoring the 18th ward veterans of World Wars I and II stand alongside the rec center, which we’ve noted to be a presence in many of the neighborhoods of Pittsburgh.
As we continued down Warrington, we picked up a stray glove, striped and girl-sized, which we’re excited to submit to onecoldhand.com.
We passed the Dari-Delite and Red’s Ringside Cafe. The Dari-Delite was closed (permanently or seasonally?), and Red’s represented one of the few still-operating businesses we encountered in the neighborhood.
Toys and miniature playground equipment were strewn about the yard of this home-turned-daycare center.
When the rain showed up, the snow departed, but that didn’t stop Beltzhoover from showing us its holiday spirit.
As we walked around, it was apparent that the neighborhood is also struggling with a great deal of blight, as evidenced here (plywood on the door, door on the porch).
We turned left and took the Laverne Street stairs up to Industry Street, where we took a left.
We took a right on Vincent and a left on Climax.
Ironically, this was just about the only yard in the neighborhood where we didn’t encounter dogs rushing out to greet (eat) us!
We crossed Estella street, walking past some neighborhood graffiti. Zhoov is a common tag around BeltZHOOVer.
From Climax, we turned right onto Curtin Avenue.
This was one of several houses in this area of the neighborhood where garbage bags and debris were piled waist-high in what seemed to be an occupied property.
We took a right onto Cedarhurst, where we found a view of Mt. Washington in the distance.
On Cedarhurst, we passed the now-closed Beltzhoover Elementary.
We took a right on Delmont. At the corner of Delmont and Freeland, we spotted a row of newly- constructed houses.
We passed another community center at the intersection of Freeland and Gearing, and then continued onto Lafferty Ave, where we saw what remained of a snowman who’s seen better days.
Lafferty ends at Boggston Avenue, which has an entrance to the T station.
We rounded the corner onto Sylvania Street, where we saw the truck for T’z Hot Spot, “ribz and dibz made hot ta hit ta spot!” (Probably not going far with that flat tire. . .)
As we continued down Sylvania, this truck entered into competition with T’z for our favorite truck on the street.
Sylvania Avenue was host to a spotty mix of vacant and occupied housing, as well as a corner store.
We made a right onto Delmont Avenue and a left onto Chalfont Street, passing three churches in quick succession: Full Life Deliverance Ministries (housed at St. Paul AME), Beulah Baptist Church, and South Hills Baptist Church.
We turned right on Curtin and right on Michigan, which runs alongside the wooded McKinley Park. The housing that borders the park, such as these houses along Delmont, is made up of larger units and more well-kempt yards.
We entered the park on Gearing Ave., passing the Elder-ado Senior Center. This side of the park offers basketball courts and trails that run south and east.
We followed a trail that let us out at the south end, near Bausman Street, where the park opens up to more basketball courts, baseball fields, tennis courts, a playground, and Pittsburgh’s first public skate park.
Leaving the park, we took the sidewalk stairs of Bernd Street and made a right at Zelda Way.
We made a left onto Beltzhoover Avenue, back toward our starting location, and passed a number of new homes, created as part of the Hilltop Housing Initiative, which is a project of Beltzhoover Citizens Community Development Corporation, Southside Local Development Company, and Jaxon Development Company. These are the first of about 50 houses to be built in Beltzhoover, Knoxville, and Allentown, priced at $125- to $140,000, all of which appear to be currently for sale.
Although Beltzhoover appeared to be the most impoverished and struggling neighborhood we have walked over the course of this project, our walk revealed its assets as well–access to a beautiful park, strong community organizations, and an ongoing effort to bring new interest to the neighborhood.
Distance: 4.5 miles
Time: 1 hr, 45 min (with soggy feet)