8425 Peach Street
Erie, PA 16509

(814) 864-3001

Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

The History of Pittsburgh Avenue by Chuck Joy

Subscribe to WQLN's YouTube to hear more from these amazing poets and others in our Sounds Around Town: Voices series.

I wish I knew the history of Pittsburgh Avenue
the true history, from the beginning
not necessarily the very beginning
the presumed cooling of the earth, the introduction of water
the carving of the streams and lakes, glaciers

maybe begin with people
in theory animals were first
a great blue heron standing in a marsh, alert
the original human peering at that bird from behind evergreen bushes
their branches parted by careful brown hands
that person's people having come from where, Tibet?
or really Africa really?
perhaps following paths pressed to dirt by bear or deer

I see the Europeans landing their canoe not far away
gone native this far inland from Bay St. Lawrence
French, they are speaking French
they call Pittsburgh Duquesne I think
the English brought Pitt and the rest of their influence
but the Pittsburgh road is east from here

Pittsburgh Avenue really goes nowhere
the north end stops several blocks before the bluff
and the other end just stops, at Thirty-eighth Street
in between are houses but mostly industry
a significant crossing of train tracks, some retail
if anywhere Pittsburgh Avenue reminds me of a street in Fort
almost a highway, and the construction of the Interstate
shifted many of the details

Pittsburgh Avenue stakes a border to my city
but not in the direction of Pittsburgh
Pittsburgh Avenue provides a major north-south crossing
in a town that runs mostly east and west
in my current ignorance I'm left to imagine