Loving City Steps? Really? Yup. It’s a Pittsburgh thing.
The Pittsburgh City Steps. If you’ve ever walked them there’s no doubt you’ve fallen in love with them. Well maybe it depends on which direction you took them. Going up them is no joke, unless you have a warped sense of humor. And going down them may be a bit easier unless you have a fear of heights.
Historically speaking the 700+ sets of city steps have had their up-and-downs. They were installed all around the city primarily to allow industrial-era workers to get to and from their steel mill jobs. Cars tried to mark the end of these man-powered paths and many started to fall into disrepair, but with true Pittsburgh grit many of the stairways have been loved back into safe-stepability.
Pittsburgh’s unforgiving hilly terrain has proven the usefulness of these “city streets”. Some steep-hill dwelling folks still use them for job-oriented pedestrian transport, but these days their primary use is for sheer recreation. Nothing gets a heart beating like 100s of steps and dizzying heights and wonderful wander-full “step trekking” explorations of the city.
Thanks to many passionate Pittsburghers the step trekking game has really stepped up in recent years. Check out these resources to plan out your next vertical adventure along the nooks, crannies, twists and turns of the city.
Everything you could ever want to see and know about all the city steps is pretty much available within a few clicks via CommunityWalk. The site is “an inventory of major public outdoor stairways (having 100 or more steps) of Pittsburgh”. Access information on the steps’ names, number of steps, and where the flight starts and ends. You can even map out your next step trekking hike.
Book: Pittsburgh Steps
If you’re ready to head out on your adventure and want some history along with a few walking tours already detailed out for you then pick up a copy of Bob Regan’s book “Pittsburgh Steps” (published in 2015).
Community Organization: South Side Slopes Neighborhood Association
The SSSNA has hosted an annual Step Trek event along the South Side Slopes’ steps. But even better they’ve compiled the area’s history into a self-guided tour which they offer for free. Check out their history-infused Church Route. A great trek for beginners, this route also has physical markers to keep you on track as you climb up and down the slopes.
The website seems straight outta the late 90s but don’t let that fool you. This PGH Steps site is jam-packed with lists of steps by city neighborhood. Those who prefer exercise-avoiding activities can tour many of the step-scapes without ever leaving their couch. This is also a great option for catching a sneak peak of what the steps look like before you tie up your city hiking shoes.
Pittsburgh Citywide Steps Assessment
The City of Pittsburgh has been “taking concrete steps to help people move across some of Pittsburgh’s favorite infrastructure.” Check out the results of their 2017 city step assessment. Data buffs should also check out Western PA Regional Data Center’s City of Pittsburgh Steps to “excel” their understanding of the steps.
Event: Bike PGH! Steps We Take