The second part of my Neighborhoodwalk contribution: My new neighborhood, Brighton Heights and other nearby stuff. I’m cheating a little bit, as most of these pix were taken within the last few weeks. And I’m still discovering everything my new neighborhood has to offer, so I’m certain there will be more…
For the past two weeks, my drive home has been different. Instead of pointing my car up the winding country road that took me from Beaver to Butler, I head the opposite direction — literally and otherwise — down Route 65, along the Ohio River, towards the city. I go through Sewickley, where I can never seem to avoid stopping at those damn traffic lights. I pass under I-79. I drive through Ben Avon, where ancient trees have stretched their branches over the road, forming a golden canopy this time of year. There’s the Bellevue sign, inviting me to Live, Worship and Shop — and the Bellevue Beer distributor, which always looks inviting as well.
And then I hit the viaduct that divides Bellevue and Pittsburgh, and I see the sweeping view, stretching from Downtown to McKees Rocks, and all the homes and factories and that giant river in between.
In the daylight, the view is a reminder of everything Pittsburgh is: glittering skyscrapers, giant mills and factories — some running, some not — and homes and entire neighborhoods stuck to the sides of all but the steepest hills. At night, though, it’s just breathtaking — a million points of light reflected on the surface of the river. I could be that I’ll get used to that view someday … but I think it will take a while.
* * *
Pittsburgh is a mix of old and new. My street, however, is mostly old. The houses, although in great shape, all seem to be in the range of 70 to 100 years old. And people like it here — the neighbor with the shortest tenure has lived here for 35 years, and Stella, the widow who lives across the street, built her home with her husband nearly 70 years ago.
Everyone knows about our house, too. Jerry, the guy who lives next door, played with the people we bought the house from when they were growing up. He hasn’t been inside for several years, but he knows some of the nooks better than we do.
We were lucky to find a house on a street where things are spread out a bit — we’re not talking acreage, but as everyone else seems to, we have a nice back yard, with room for a good-sized back porch. There’s a small front porch, too — when the weather gets warm next spring, I’ll be spending a lot of time out there, talking with neighbors as they walk their dogs up the street.
We’re still learning about what there is to do around here. We probably won’t really get to enjoy that part of the experience for a few weeks, as the weekends are going to be full of tearing up carpet and other projects. However, we still have to eat — and we’ve already sampled some of what’s nearby. We’ve found a couple favorites in Bellevue already:
A dream restaurant for a chili dog connoisseur like me. And:
Great food. Friendly people. Cheap. Yum. And there’s a whole business district just around the corner from where we live:
We’ve spent a little time at The Vault before we moved here; we haven’t yet sampled pizza or subs from Chubby’s. But with a name like that, how could you go wrong?
* * *
Just on the other side of the viaduct is the entrance to the McKees Rocks Bridge, a hulking blue span over the river and out of the city. Turn the other direction, and head up the hill into Brighton Heights. I take the easy left at the five-way intersection, make a couple more turns and then I can see the little light on the railing in our front yard. It’s distinctive, and it makes it easy to pick out my house in the dark.
I pull up alongside the light.
Does the new place feel like home yet?
Neighborhoods with that much history are impressive. I think I’d feel a bit intimidated, like the new kid on the block, wondering if the neighbors feared that I’d somehow ruin their picture-perfect lifestyle. (If necessary, ply them with beer.)
Justin: We definitely had the sense we were being checked out while we were moving in. But I think there’s also a little relief among the neighbors just to have someone move in; another long-vacant home up the street was stripped of its copper pipes a couple months ago, and the mail carrier said that really shook people up here.
(Even the mailman, Ed, has been here forever. Think he said this has been one of his streets for eight years or so…)
As far as feeling like home … it’s coming. It’s a little hard to settle into a routine while we’re still unpacking, cleaning, checking out furniture and thinking about what color the walls should be. I think much of the giddiness I feel now is discovery: how close we are to everything, the dinner specials at the Rusty Nail kick are really good, we can walk to The Vault, etc. Still, I think we’re both comfortable already. And we’ll feel better and better as time passes.
You know, I thought that last pic was of empty Rolling Rock bottles in your basement. I was reading on my phone during my commute; and, sure, the leaves are nice. But it would have been funnier if they were empty beer bottles instead. I’m not sayin’, I’m just sayin’ …
…in your neighborhood. In your neighborhood. In your NEIGHBOR-HOO-OD! Man, these pics really make me want to get a hot dog. Belleview seems to be the new hep place. Too bad I’m a traditional Pittsburgher and won’t cross a bridge to get there. ;)