Thursday, January 19, 2012

Pedestrian Pittsburgh: The Staircases of Polish Hill

[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).]

When you put a neighborhood on a steep hill, you end up needing a transportation system to get people from the bottom to the top and back down again. It might seem too basic to be considered a transportation system, but really that's what staircases are. They are a pain when you have to climb several to get to where you're going, but they are way less of a pain than the alternative - scaling the hill without it broken up a bit.

Our plan on possibly the most beautiful January day on record was to walk up or down all of the staircases in Polish Hill. Why? Why not? What else are you going to do with your time?

This staircase is all the way at the back of Polish Hill. On the other side of that wall is Bigelow Boulevard.

From the top of the staircase, you can see Polish Hill, Lawrenceville, Troy Hill and beyond.

But, if you look down, you'll see some lovely little chickens!

The day of our walk it was sunny and almost 60 degrees. Fuck winter, indeed. (Of course, it's now freezing and snowy and blustery, so that whole mild winter thing is probably over. SAD. FACE.)

Definitely my favorite staircase, and maybe Eric's too, was this one above. It's hard to see before most of it is covered in the weird gully-forest overgrowth in Polish Hill's odd little gully. But where it looks like it turns to the right it actually also continues straight, making a big, somewhat unnecessary loop. Though I guess it is not entirely unnecessary for the people who live in the three or four houses it services, which is a nice part of Pittsburgh's charm.

This is one of those snapshots of Pittsburgh that I just absolutely love. Rickety houses teetering comfortably on the edge.

The best part of walking the staircases were the small discoveries along the way: the unnecessary loop, the stickers and graffiti, the chickens and the view. Polish Hill is a treasure trove because the people who live there, have lived there, or have climbed up and down the staircases on trips to the neighborhood have left little remnants of themselves behind. I like wondering who put up these little birds outside their cage or who spray-painted this excellent orange creature on our last staircase of the day. I'll probably never find out, but that's okay so long as there are continually more things to find and enjoy.

You can see more photos from the walk on the EverythingBetterPGH Picasa Page.

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