Roslyn Place: Pittsburgh’s Wooden Street

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Pittsburgh is jam-packed with the oddest little curiosities in the most unlikely places — sometimes, right below your feet.  One of them really is a street that’s paved entirely with wood.  Roslyn Place isn’t very long, and it definitely isn’t very wide, but it really is an honest to goodness wooden street.

Location

Roslyn Place is located east of downtown Pittsburgh, in the Shadyside neighborhood, near the big UPMC hospital complex.  Because Pittsburgh is a confused tangle of streets, I can’t tell you exactly how to get there.  But my suggestion is, find UPMC Shadyside, then go south on Aiken Avenue, turn left on Ellsworth Avenue, then make another left immediately onto Roslyn Place.  Or, park on a different side street.  Roslyn Place really is too narrow, especially when its residents are parked along the street.

My Visit

Well, what do you know?  That really is a street paved with wood.  It’s not exactly what I expected, but the design makes perfect sense.  Those wood blocks are cut like bricks and positioned with the tree’s rings facing up.  I’m guessing this means that as the wood swells, it locks the pieces in place.  And, it provides for a pretty smooth ride.

It’s a wooden street.

Roslyn Place has been paved with wood since the neighborhood was built, back in 1914.  Pittsburghmagazine.com reports, it was restored in 1985, when residents fought to keep the city from paving over this amazing little slice of Steel City history.

Roslyn Place is, admittedly, a tiny little neighborhood, and the street itself doesn’t leave much room for anything.  It’s technically three-cars wide, meaning residents can park on either side of the wooden street, and you can just barely squeeze a car through the middle.  I folded my mirrors and spent several minutes inching between them…

… only to end up at the end of this 250-foot-long street, where four cars had taken up most of the cul-de-sac.  Somehow I negotiated a multi-point turn on this wooden street and pointed my SUV back towards Ellsworth Avenue.

On the way out, I noticed that every car parked along this street had scraped paint on their doors and fenders.  Perhaps it’s a small price to pay for the privilege of living along a historical landmark.

On my way out, I noticed the ironwork on the fence next to the road.  It’s just another detail that makes Pittsburgh so authentic.

Drivelapse Video

Here’s a look at the drive from the Strip District to Roslyn Place in Shadyside:

The Bottom Line

It’s a minor attraction, I suppose, and it isn’t easy to visit.  But, if you’re anything like me, you can’t resist the chance to see one of the last remaining wooden streets in the world, hidden in the middle of Pittsburgh.   If you go, take the smallest vehicle you can, and be very careful not to scrape any more paint off the neighbors’ cars.

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