Steps of Pittsburgh
The Steps of Pittsburgh refers to the collection of over 700 sets of city-owned steps in the City of Pittsburgh. Many steps parallel existing roads, but others exist on their own and are classified as city streets.
The large number of steps are an engineering approach to the topography upon which the City of Pittsburgh is built. According to author Martin Aurand, Pittsburgh “lies unevenly on unruly land.” The city is located at the confluence of two rivers which cut through elevated land of the Appalachian Plateau. The city is settled at elevations ranging from 710 to 1,300 feet (220 to 400 m) above sea level.
Steps have defined Pittsburgh to many of its visitors. Writing in 1937, famed war correspondent Ernie Pyle wrote of the steps of Pittsburgh:
- And then the steps. Oh Lord, the steps! I was told they actually had a Department of Steps. That isn’t exactly true, although they do have an Inspector of Steps. But there are nearly 15 miles of city-owned steps, going up mountainsides.
Pittsburgh’s steps have been catalogued by author Bob Regan. He has counted over 712 individual sets of steps, including 44,645 risers, accounting for 24,108 vertical feet. Currently there are over 100 major stairways (having more than 100 individual steps each) documented on this CommunityWalk page .
- Aurand, Martin (2006). The Spectator and the Topographical City. Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press.
- "Pyle’s Great Column on Pittsburgh". Pittsburgh Press. 1945-04-19.
- Regan, Bob. The Steps of Pittsburgh, Portrait of a City. Local History Co. ISBN 0-9711835-6-2.
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