Winding up and down the many hills of Pittsburgh are its public staircases. Built largely in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, these staircases served as the primary mode of transportation for Pittburgh’s commuting workforce. With over 700 staircases, Pittsburgh has the most public steps of any city in America. As an essential component of an integrated pedestrian network, the steps are an important asset to the city, improving the connections between neighborhoods and encouraging walking and active transportation.
The City Steps Assessment was selected as one of the winning projects for the City Accelerator program. The City Accelerator, an initiative of Living Cities and the Citi Foundation, aims to help accelerate the adoption of such innovations within and across cities. Pittsburgh’s City Steps are as diverse as the city itself. The city’s public stair network is comprised of 700 staircases which vary in size, age, construction material and current condition. The city is currently engaged in an effort to assess City Steps in order to develop a way to more systematically repair and maintain these treasured assets. Using mapping analysis, public input and field work, the city will create a prioritized repair and rebuilding schedule. In addition to creating a priority list, this project will consider the material, aesthetic and public amenity aspects of the staircases through the creation of new design guidelines and lifecycle cost estimates.