Brereton Street was the commercial spine of Polish Hill. A few businesses still straggle along here, and the streetscape itself is one of those only-in-Pittsburgh sights: tall, narrow little buildings crowded on an improbably steep hillside, leading to a massive Renaissance church the size of a cathedral—Immaculate Heart of Mary.
An out-of-towner might think that some horrible territorial war had happened to make Beechview residents throw a concrete wall right across the middle of Sebring Avenue. But the culprit is topography again. The streets in Beechview are laid out in a grid in defiance of the hills, and the only way to make Sebring Avenue intersect Westfield Street was with terracing.
We’ve seen terraces like these on the South Side Slopes, and here is a similar construction for a similar reason in Beechview. As you might guess from the parked cars, the street is two ways on both sides of the divide, which only adds to the delightful confusion. You can turn any which way from Sebring Avenue. The only thing you can’t do is continue on Sebring Avenue.
The Fallowfield viaduct is one of many engineering works necessary to get the Red Line as far as central Beechview. Its walkway is also a vital pedestrian link—vital enough that a few years ago, when the walkway was closed for repairs, the Port Authority gave free rides between Westfield and Fallowfield.
In addition to taking us from here to there, the walkway gives us interesting treetop-level views of the hilly back streets of this part of Beechview.
Father Pitt is convinced that the developers who laid out the streets in Beechview had never visited the site. Just draw lines north-south and east-west on a map, and you have your streets. Hills? Oh, they can’t be that bad, can they?
Here is Hampshire Avenue viewed from the Red Line streetcar crossing, with Broadway—where the Red Line crosses Hampshire again—at the top of the next hill.
Carrick dribbles down the precipitous slope from Brownsville Road. The church at upper left is St. Basil’s, now part of Holy Apostles Parish. The spire on the skyline right of center belongs to Zion Christian Church, built as Bethel Baptist Church.