Black Route 2018
1. Pittsburgh StepTrek 2018 – Black Route - Start under the Mission St. Bridge at the StepTrek Marketplace and registration in South Side Park. Descend to Josephine St.
2. * South Side Park - Efforts continue to reclaim a 64 acre park that extends from Josephine St. below to the heights of the Slopes. In this wooded hillside are streams, ball fields and pathways. Volunteers have removed invasive knotweed and vines that choke the park and built its trails. With funding from The Brashear Association, SSSNA partnered with Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy, Landforce and the Student Conservation Association to create this neighborhood asset. Friends of South Side Park manage its ongoing work.
3. Josephine St. - Make right and walk east toward S. 22nd St. Continue to Greeley St.
4. * Gardens on the Slopes - Here are the first of six gardens maintained by SSSNA members. Part of an effort to put a green face on the Slopes, the garden was planted in 2002 in conjunction with the Western Penna. Conservancy.
5. Greeley St. - Turn right and continue up Greely 100 yards to Eola Way Steps on the left.
6. Eola Way Steps - Make a left and walk to the stairs built in 1947. As you climb these 96 steps, each 4-ft wide, notice the ruins of stone or brick foundations perched over the hillside on the right. At the top of the steps is Leticoe St.
7. Leticoe St. - Make left and stay right as you descend Leticoe. At bottom of street, descend 23 steps where Eleanor St. meets Leticoe. Continue up Leticoe. In the 2500 block, just past the crest of the hill, look left to the houses tucked behind houses. Close quarters! Continue to Kosciusko Way, named for one of the Polish generals who assisted America in the Revolutionary War for independence.
8. Leticoe St Steps - Located at the eastern terminus of Leticoe St., the lower 3-ft. wide wooden steps were rebuilt 2017, while the rest were reconstructed in the 1990's. There are 58 steps. At the top cross Barry St. to Stella St.
9. Stella St. - Go ahead . . . give it your best Marlon Brando! Walk to the right of the metal fencing that divides the road. In 1935 the Work Projects Administration (WPA) terraced this part of the hillside and created the bi-level street topped with an iron fence. In 1998 Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation designated the Stella-Shelley fence as a historically significant landmark. Stay right on the upper level and walk to first set of steps on left.
10. Oakley Way Steps - Make left and descend 22 steps to Shelly St. A total of 289 steps, built in 1928, climb the equivalent of 18 floors from Josephine St. below to Mission St. above.
11. Shelly St. - Make right. Around you are six of the eight townhouses built in 2003 by the South Side Local Development Company in cooperation with the SSSNA. Even these new homes had to be shoe-horned into the hillside. Continue walking as Shelly loops to the right.
12. Shelly/ Stella Streets - Make left and walk on low side of Shelly St. Stay on Shelly. Ahead is a large grassy field known as Monongahela Park. At the end of Shelly, look up and down the hill and you will see yellow markers of a 16” gas line that now occupies the former path of the J & L Coal Incline which carried coal from the American Mine near the top of the Slopes to J & L's iron making facility on the Flats below. The 1300 foot long incline was in operation from 1854 until sometime prior to 1930.
13. * Monongahela Park - Step around the guardrail to enter the park. Years ago the area here was a water reservoir. The basin was filled with earth in the 1950s. Many local groups use this large, flat area for organized sports and exercise. Cross the ball fields and climb 18 steps to the upper park. Cross the clearing to the steps at the far end. That's Josephine St. on the left, which winds up the slopes.
14. Northview Steps - Turn right. These 115 steps climb through a nicely shaded hillside. On the left are the remains of a house foundation. At the top of the steps, make a right onto Northview St.
15. Northview St. - Northview curves to the right and passes Mission St. Continue past Stomberg to Cobden St. Here, the lots start to widen into yards with gardens.
16. Cobden St. - Make a right. The South Side Slopes crest in two places, and this is one of them. While walking along Cobden, notice that the terrain slopes down on either side. This relatively level walk passes a mix of homes and side yards.
17. * Cobden St. Parklet - The parklet on the left was improved by members of the Cobden St. Block Watch through a Love Your Block Grant. Continue along Cobden to Cologne St.
18. Cologne St. - Make a left. Stay right and descend the 42 steps on the right hand side to Berg St. Continue on the right side of Cologne down another 61 steps to Patterson. Though SSSNA lobbies to repair and restore badly damaged steps, the city removed 25 deteriorated steps in 2014 between Patterson and Salisbury streets below you. You can help protect and retain city steps by utilizing the City of Pittsburgh's 311 system.
19. Patterson St. - Make right
20. Clover St. - Turn left. After Salisbury St., Clover starts to climb. Keep left and ascend 49 steps to Eccles St. This section of the Slopes rests in a natural bowl between Arlington Ave. above and Cobden to the north.
21. Eccles St. - Make right. Continue past Eleanor St. and Conway St. to end of street.
22. Sterling St. - Turn left and walk along recreation area on left side of street. At end of park, make right and climb 12 steps before yellow brick parks building.
23. * Arlington Ballfield & Spray Park - For all its steepness, there are play and ball fields throughout the Slopes. This ballfield regularly hosts baseball and softball games under the lights which can be seen from the South Side Flats and Oakland. Take in views of downtown's tallest buildings and Oakland's medical complex. The Spray Park opened in 2018. Replacing a deteriorated city pool, the spray functions are many and varied. A children's playground completes the park. Keep left and continue walking.
24. Fort Hill Steps - At end of park, keep left and descend the 49 steps.
25. Fernleaf St. - Make right. On the left is former Engine House #22 which was established in 1894. Ahead at the intersection with Salisbury is the Brashear Association's Kaufmann Neighborhood House.
26. * Brashear Association, Kaufmann Neighborhood House - The Brashear Association was founded in 1917 to honor the renowned, self-taught scientist John A. Brashear and celebrate his humanitarianism. The Henry Kaufmann Neighborhood House was constructed in 1965 as an outreach site. Brashear Association supports and enriches families in a community context to build more vital lives and neighborhoods in South Pittsburgh. The building also houses Arlington Community Center.
27. Salisbury St. - Turn right.
28. Sterling St. - Make left and descend past Patterson St. to steps on left.
29. Sterling St. Steps - Built in 1951, the steps connect to Mission St. below. Take in the view of the Mon River, downtown and the rooftops of South Side. When ready, descend 46 steps to Berg St. Steps.
30. * South Side Park Trail System - The park on the left has trails designed and built in collaboration with the Student Conservation Association. Funded by a 2015 Birmingham Foundation grant, the trail connects the eastern and western halves of South Side Park. Landforce constructed both the Salisbury Connector Trail and Sterling Connector Trail in 2016. Goats from Allegheny Goatscape helped tame invasive vines this past summer. SCA and Slopes volunteers cleared a significant amount of land to cut across the steep terrain.
31. Berg St. Steps - Make right and climb these 43 wooden steps constructed in 1997 to Berg St.
32. Berg St. - Continue along left side of Berg. Descend the 9 steps to Eleanor St.
33. Eleanor St. - Make left and walk one block.
34. Cobden St. - Turn right. The course takes you along the spine of a knoll, with yards sloping down on either side. Look between homes on left for views of Oakland. Continue to Clover St.
35. * Cobden Street Churches - In this section of the Slopes are a couple of smaller churches. The Second Primative Methodist Church is at 2430 Cobden St. Cobden Street Baptist Church is on the right corner at 2500 Cobden St.
36. Clover St. Steps - Make left and keep left to descend 51 steps on left side of house. Continue down paved lane to Burham St.
37. Burham St. - Turn right and continue to end of street.
38. Sumner St. - Cross to opposite side at mail box. Take in the view of downtown. Descend 9 steps to sidewalk. The walk and homes sit below street level, a feature seen throughout the Slopes. Make left and descend 17 steps along the right of Sumner, part of a concrete walk built in 2012.
39. Oakley Way - Make right. You're at the upper end of this grand stairway through the Slopes. Descend 22 steps to Stromberg St. Drop down another 14 steps to high sidewalk above Mission St. Do not walk down to street level.
40. Mission St. - Make left and keep to high sidewalk on left side of Mission. Ahead lies the scenic St. Josaphat's Chapel and the spectacular view that takes in Mt. Washington, the Liberty, Fort Pitt and West End Bridges, the roofs of the South Side and the City beyond the Monongahela River. Stay left and descend the 80 steps to Barry St. These 4-foot wide steps were built in 1950.
41. Barry/Holt St. Steps - Cross to the other side of Barry. Make a left and climb the 48 steps on right side to the curve.
42. Holt St. - Stay right at top of steps and continue along Holt St., which has 8 steps in its sidewalk. Notice the houses sit below grade, a feature of building on a steeply sloped hillside.
43. * SSSNA Founding - Just after 49 Holt St. is an open lot. A fire here destroyed three homes on Memorial Day weekend 1997. Alarmed by the inability of a standard fire truck to negotiate the narrow streets and sharp turns, a group of residents joined forces to create the South Side Slopes Neighborhood Association and lobby the city for smaller fire trucks. The city adopted the new design, and now a number of smaller fire trucks serve hillside neighborhoods throughout Pittsburgh.
44. Holt St. continued - Continue past Eleanor St. and keep right.
45. * The Dirty Dozen - Each November, Pittsburgh hosts a 50-mile bike race that goes up 13 of its steepest hills. Eleanor St. is one of the Dirty Dozen. Take a look up the street to get a sense of the vertical climb. Another is Welsh Way on the Gold Route.
46. Holt St. continued - Descend the 44 wooden steps that were rebuilt in 1999 to Sterling St.
47. Sterling St. - Cross to stop sign and make right to descend these 64 steps that were built in 1951. Continue down to Mission Street.
48. Mission St. - Turn left. Across the street is the former St. Josaphat Church.
49. * St. Josaphat Church - Dedicated in 1916, the Roman Catholic Church was built to serve a Polish parish established in 1901. The building is Romanesque with a Byzantium influence evident in the arches, pillars and bell tower. The main altar held relics of St. Josaphat. Beneath the choir balcony hung a picture of the Black Madonna. The church closed permanently after a section of ceiling collapsed about the casket of the last caretaker during his funeral mass. The church is being converted into multiple living units.
50. Mission St. Continued - Stay on Mission. After the first bridge is the Mission St. pumping station circa 1900, which delivers water into the neighborhood and surrounding area. An initiative in 2009 brightened this area by replacing existing street lighting with higher wattage lamps. To continue to finish and Gold Route, cross the second bridge built in 1939 as a project of the Public Works Administration under FDR. That's South Side Park below and rising up the hill to your left. Continue to 18th St.
51. Join Gold Route - To join Gold Route, stop at S. 18th St. Please see Gold Route map and directions. To return to start, see next section.
52. Return to Start - Descend the steps behind the bus shelter on the left at 18th & Mission. These 102 steps drop down to 21st St. To return to the registration area, make a right at the bottom of the steps.