Friday, July 29, 2011

Pedestrian Pittsburgh - Troy Hill: Charmingly Isolated

[Pedestrian Pittsburgh is a collaborative effort between Eric Lidji and me. We're gonna walk all over this fantastic city. Check out his blog for his account (which will be much more elegant and whimsical than my account that follows). Also, we have a tumblr and a twitter.]

When I ride my bike home from work, I take Smallman Street from Downtown all the way to the 31st Street Bridge before switching over to Penn for a long, steady climb uphill to Bloomfield. Smallman Street is a calmer street with less traffic than Penn or Liberty, and it also affords one a great view of a row of homes that teeter on the edge of Troy Hill. Seeing those homes always reminds me of my first summer back in Pittsburgh when my friend Dan and I took an epic bike ride up Troy Hill Road to get the neighborhood's spray park on a hot day. The other weekend I returned to Troy Hill, just about a year later.

On this trip, we didn't bike. But we also didn't technically drive. We started our walk like any good walk in Pittsburgh should begin: ascending a seemingly never-ending set of city steps, covered in overgrown brush and smatterings of graffiti.

This is the view, going down. But we were going up!

One of the views, right after finishing our ascent.

Is it possible that a bad view of Pittsburgh exists? I think not.

Some Things I Have Learned About TROY HILL
- It is the second-most isolated Pittsburgh neighborhood in terms of ways into the neighborhood.
- Troy Hill was founded in 1833. And for the first ten years, it was nothing but cemeteries.
- At it's peak, the population of Troy Hill was 10,000. Today, it's more like 2,500.
- St. Anthony's Chapel boasts the largest public collection of relics in the world.
- Rialto Street, a.k.a. Pig Hill, has a 24% grade. The neighborhood used to have an incline, and it directly paralleled Pig Hill's steep grade.

Once we made it to the top, we started our way around the neighborhood. Here are some things we saw, some things we came across, and some things we stumbled upon.

One of my favorite simple pleasures in life is a good flea market, which we happened upon during our adventures in Troy Hill. Our visit coincided with a weekend-long Troy Hill celebration, and I reaped the benefits of that by spending $5 and getting three pretty excellent wooden pieces/decorations for my apartment.

This is Rialto Street, or Pig Hill. Farmers on Troy Hill used to drive their pigs down the hill to the butchers by the Allegheny.

Without a doubt, I was most charmed by the graffitied pigs on Rialto Street.

Troy Hill might be isolated, but it felt welcoming. In fact, on the Pedestrian Pittsburgh walks that Eric and I have done, I've never felt as comfortable as I did in Troy Hill. It's got character, and it feels like a community. If it weren't for the climb, I think I'd be happy living on the edge.

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