We began our tour of Bloomfield on a cold, but clear day at the corner of Liberty Ave. and Main St., which would later turn into a blustery, snowy day, thus initiating our first official walk in the winter snow.
Travelers coming from Downtown or the Bloomfield Bridge are greeted by this prominent display of neighborhood identity.
The first leg of our walk would be a quick loop through the Lawrenceville side of Bloomfield, heading west along Liberty Avenue. Bloomfield’s boundaries tend to be a little fuzzy on just about every side, especially where the neighborhood is surrounded by Lawrenceville, Friendship, Shadyside, and Oakland.
We first came upon Iron Eden, Bloomfield’s home for hand-forged iron works, which displayed a number of their intricate fences and sculptures around the studio.
From Liberty and Ewing, we caught a glimpse of the Bloomfield Bridge and the East Busway, which cut through the hillside, then made a right onto 40th Street.
We turned right onto Mintwood Street. The housing in this area is quintessential Bloomfield: compact, multi-colored rows.
We turned left at Fisk Street, then made a right onto Penn Avenue.
We passed Tram’s Kitchen, a perennial winner of Best Southeast Asian Restaurant in the City Paper.
The houses facing Penn Avenue showcase restored Victorian detail.
Making a right onto Main Street, we passed this mysteriously-named bar.
Now in the area branded as the “Penn Main Business District,” we continued past the Humble Beginnings art and coffee shop and Twisters, home of the best ice cream sandwich in town (for under a buck!).
We crossed Liberty Avenue, making our way through the parking lot of the iconic Bloomfield Bridge Tavern (the Polish Party House!) and its scrumptious pierogies.
We entered into the residential maze that lies behind the parking lot of the BBT and continued south on Ella Street. The smells of all the restaurants along Liberty Avenue followed us there, and we passed by the Bloomfield pool and recreation center. We also came upon two patriotic geese at this gloriously ornamented house on Ella Street!
We hope that this forlorn pet-lover found Rupert and all of his, um, parts.
We began to descend the long set of stairs down Ella, to Lorigan Street. On our way down, we noticed this delightful little surprise attached to one of the stairs.
And further down, this.
It didn’t stop there. As we made it to the bottom, it became clear that we had wandered into someone’s secret guerilla art garden!
Looking behind us, we found some inspiration on the risers of the stairs, where we had just been.
About this time, it started to snow. We veered right on Juniper, past this garage.
We followed Edmond back around to Lorigan Street, past Sanchioli Bros. Bakery and the Lorigan Street Bar, and made a right on Pearl. We passed one of the many tributes to Mary that we encountered in Bloomfield.
At Pearl and Liberty, we passed the Immaculate Conception/St. Joseph Church, and the snow picked up.
This parking meter is a great image of Bloomfield’s Italian pride.
We looped around the church and took a right on Garnet, then a left on Essex, walking by this guy.
We took a left on Edmond, a right on Sciota, a right on Mathilda, and a left on Cypress.
What are you looking at!?
We walked through the playground and made a right onto Baum, near Ritters Diner, the 2 a.m. refuge of many a bar-goer.
Continuing down Baum, we entered into the Baum-Center Corridor, the site of new development spurred by the Hillman Cancer Center and guided by a coalition of citizens, community organizations, and developers who created a shared vision for design in the corridor.
We crossed over the tracks and busway.
We made a right on Millvale, right before the (currently closed) Millvale Bridge, and a left on Morewood. We made a left at Enfield, past the Carnegie Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped, and a right at Maripoe. We turned left at Centre, where we passed a number of large apartment buildings and old mansions.
We walked by the new Mariott hotel on Centre Avenue and another neighborhood war memorial.
We came to the First United Methodist Church at Centre and Aiken, where we turned left.
The housing style in this part of Bloomfield is distinctly different, as the houses are much larger, with individual yards and large porches.
We made a left on Harriet, a right on Atlantic, and a left on Friendship Avenue. We passed the Greater Pittsburgh Christian Temple and the Evaline Lutheran Church. We came upon this grouping of houses, which had worked together to create this beautiful display of stars.
We arrived at the now snow-covered Friendship Park.
We strolled through the park and then passed West Penn Hospital and the School of Nursing, the first in the nation to admit male students. We passed Nico’s Recovery Room at Pearl Street, a Greek restaurant and bar with karaoke fame.
This nameless entity is pretty typical of neighborhood dive bars carved out of old houses around the city.
We made a right on Carroll, past some blaring punk music, a left on Cullen, and a right on Penn Avenue. We came upon the Graveyard Grill, across from the Allegheny Cemetery, the Metamorphose gallery, this friendly cow, and the Eastside Neighborhood Employment Center.
We found this establishment to be very macabre.
We passed the new building for the Children’s Home of Pittsburgh, which provides adoption services and pediatric specialty care. Next, we found some great public art along Penn Avenue.
This mural on The Quiet Storm comments on the reinvention of the Penn Avenue Corridor as a link between Bloomfield, Garfield, Friendship, East Liberty, and Shadyside. At this point, we stopped into the Quiet Storm, a vegetarian/vegan cafe, to grab some hot chocolate and warm our bones.
The sun dropped quickly while we were inside, and we headed out to finish the tour. We hurried down Graham and made a right on Baum, then a right on Liberty.
This section of Liberty has recently received dedicated bike lanes, and Bloomfield is a hot spot for bike culture in Pittsburgh.
Liberty Avenue is Bloomfield’s business district and host to a large variety of shops, restaurants, and services.
Liberty Avenue offers its eats at Alexander’s, Cafe Roma, Crazy Mocha, Del’s, Grasso Roberto, Lombardozzi’s, Mezzanotte, Paddy Cake Bakery, Pleasure Bar, Pollack’s, Silky’s Pub, Tessaro’s, and others. Bloomfield also offers two Italian groceries–Groceria Italiana (on Cedarville) and Donatelli’s.
The Big Idea, which sits at Liberty and Millvale, is a 100% volunteer-run bookshop dedicated to promoting radical and alternative cultures through community networks and the distribution of literature.
Dreaming Ant, the rental store housed in the Bloomfield Crazy Mocha, is a great source for all kinds of film, including indie, foreign, documentary, and gay and lesbian genres.
Bloomfield is a diverse neighborhood with a thriving residential and commercial life, and its streets make for a great walk.
Distance: 7.6 miles
Time: 4 hrs (at a very leisurely pace, in the snow)