Manchester/Mexican War Streets

Emily gets the group psyched up for the first part of the hike
through Manchester. We actually start on the edge of the War
Streets, in a parking lot the America Postal Workers Union let us
use.
Hikers walk through part of Manchester and then actually dip
into Chateau, a mostly industrial area along the Ohio River.
Manchester
Craftsmen’s Guild
is there. It offers a variety of programs to
train adults and teens for careers in the arts. It’s a subsidiary
of the Manchester Bidwell Corporation. The building is also one of
the area’s more popular spots for jazz concerts.
A couple blocks behind Manchester Craftsmen’s Guild is the Ohio
River… and a marina.
Elvis lives… in Chateau.
We arrive at the
Drew Mathieson Center for Horticultural and Agricultural
Technology,
which is affiliated with the Manchester Bidwell
Corporation. On this day, the Daffodil and Hosta Society of Western
Pennsylvania
happens to have a show there. The Society’s Chuck
Olescyski tells us about it.
Rachel Kudrick shows off the greenhouse’s signature product, the
Phalenopsis
orchid.
The greenhouse grows other plants as well, including hydroponic
tomatoes and annuals that are sold locally.
Walking back through Manchester, many hikers are surprised to
see how beautiful and large some of the houses are. There are still
some areas that could use a lot of help, but several blocks are
filled with houses that have been carefully restored…
…and gardens dutifully tended to.
We stop at Emmanuel
Episcopal Church,
built in 1886. Don Youse is Vicker there. The
church’s original stone design was by H.H. Richardson, who also
designed the Allegheny County courthouse. The church’s congregation
rejected Richardson’s design because it was too expensive. The
church is made out of brick instead. A few years after construction
was finished, the church’s walls bowed out. You can notice it
especially looking at the inside of the west wall.
The church confirmed a few years ago that these three windows
were made by Tiffany.
The hikers walk by the new
Brighton-Beech lofts.
The next stop is the Community College of Allegheny County,
which is in an area called Millionaire’s Row between around 1890
and 1910. Emily tells us that the millionaires began moving out of
these huge homes once Pittsburgh annexed Allegheny City, which
included the North Side.
We stop at Gus
and Yia Yia’s shaved ice stand
in West Park. The stand has been
on the North Side since 1934, or, as is painted on the side, “since
your dad was a lad.”
Gus shaves the ice right in front of you. They keep the big
blocks in a truck parked next to the stand.
On to the Mexican
War Streets,
which were laid out by General William Robinson in
1848. He had just returned from the war and named the streets after
battles and generals in a show of patriotism. Many Victorian homes
in this neighborhood have been renovated, and community gardens
like this one planted in empty lots.
We find there Glenn Woodard, who likes to call himself the “King
of Peas.” He says we should really walk around the corner and talk
to
Randy Gilson,
who started these gardens.
It’s hard to miss Randy’s house. He happens to be having a yard
sale this day.
Randy
is one of the most energetic guys you’ll ever meet. He
tells us he took out a loan to buy this home at a sheriff’s sale,
and eventually bought two other houses on either side (together
they’re known as “Randyland”). He and his partner hope eventually
to open a coffee shop on the first floor of this building. It’s not
clear whether Randy sleeps.
Next we go to the Mattress
Factory
, where Curator of Exhibitions Michael Olijnyk talks to
us.
The courtyard outside the museum looks like the remnants of a
former home, although much of it was added by an artist. And just
outside, there’s a peephole to look into the courtyard.
When you look through it, you see the stream flowing through the
courtyard.
Just down the street is the home of a Chinese poet
who moved to Pittsburgh to escape persecution in his native
country.
On our way back to our cars, we stop by a mural created through
the Sprout Fund.

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