For about a year we’ve been sitting on this idea and finally we’re ready to bring it to the streets: The Pittsburgh Parking Chair is our next installment of “Classic Pittsburgh” (also check out our feature on The Pittsburgh Toilet). 

Our procrastination, however, has been worth it for it appears that the Pittsburgh Parking Chair is having its long-overdue Andy Warhol-esque 15 minutes of fame. 

Pittsburgh has a reputation for being such a friendly city. And it is. And we are. …Except for when it comes to our parking spots. Or our sports teams. Never mess with Pittsburgh’s spots or sports!

The Classic Pittsburgh Parking Chair is a church basement wooden fold-up chair. But as our weathered friends age they’ve either moved indoors or to a local, organic farm to spend their final days in a peaceful pasture. These days you’ll most often find gaudy plastic chairs. Though they may look different don’t let that fool you – they definitely speak the same language. 

If you’ve ever lived on a street where parking is tight then you know the importance of the Pittsburgh Parking Chair. It isn’t just a symbol – It’s a means of survival. Would you like to park in the proximity of your home? You need one. Did you just shovel aht a foot of snow before heading to work? Aht comes your trusty PPC. You can rest assured that when you return your spot will still be there to greet you with open arms. 

Once the chair is in the street that spot is claimed. It’s an unspoken, potentially legally binding contract — between your chair, the spot, and anyone who even dares to think about parking there. 

If you’re new to the city we urge you to take note: Never move a Pittsburgh Parking Chair! Not even a little. These chairs can talk. 

This little chair is the schizophrenic, passive-aggressive little thing. When it stays inside it’s a welcoming spot to rest. “Come here and sit” it says. “Don’t be afraid” it coaxes. But move it outside and it is a beast. A “This spot here is mine n’at” kind of beast. Don’t mess with the beast. 

Have you ever considered moving someone’s Parking Chair? Just the thought of that makes us shiver. The consequences are unimaginable. If you move a parking chair and something happens to your car don’t expect the police to help you – if you confess to moving someone’s chair then it’s all on you. Everyone must abide by the Pittsburgh Parking Chair’s moral code of conduct. Break these Pittsburgh-etiquette rules and you’ll see no sympathy.  

Now that you all understand this little chair’s fierceness let’s introduce you to its friendly side. After all, many of us Pittsburghers rely on it to do such an important task for us. It is a trusty four-legged friend. Most importantly: It stands up for us. It speaks for us when we aren’t there to speak for ourselves. 

Here in 2020 it seems no one can get enough of this Classic Pittsburgh cultural icon. So we’ve finally gotten out of our seats to round up some highlights for you of this subtle-and-quiet yet loud-and-proud piece of portable furniture. 

Allow us to introduce you to the Pittsburgh Parking Chair:     

Commanding center stage is Visit Pittsburgh’s monstrously delightful take on it. Measuring 8 feet tall we can only assume they really, really, really don’t want anyone to mess with their parking spot. A bit ironically they are promoting it as part of their “Pull up a chair. You are welcome here.” campaign. Do not let this one welcoming chair confuse you. It does not speak for any of the other ones out there.  

So beloved is the Pittsburgh Parking Chair that local makers have gotten in on the parking chair’s moment. Since one doesn’t usually get to watch their chair as it faithfully performs its unwavering service it only seems fitting that companies are making ornaments to remind us of our unwavering pal. Stare at your tree and recall all those fond memories when your beloved parking spot was trustfully saved for you while you were away. 

@workerbird

Year-round options to honor your beloved are also available from other makers. Send them a card. Buy them art for their walls. True Pittsburghers will appreciate every one. 

@rphillipsdesigns

Aww. Well isn’t that the cutest parking chair you’ve ever seen? It’s got a heart and is so lovey-dovey which is definitely unlike most of the chairs we’re familiar with. Are we the only ones that imagine they have angry, menacing faces with eyes constantly watching you, never blinking, never blinking, or at least not blinking until you pass it by? 

@mo_macel

Before you go thinking that most Pittsburgh Parking Chairs are honored primarily during the snowy season you will be happy to know that their reputation has spilled back over from the streets to the churches from whence they came. We attended a church festival and discovered the shocking truth that these chairs are also being used at actual church festivals to reserve seating! We’ve been so conditioned by the hard streets that we could only bow in respect to the power of the clearly saved seat. 

And we aren’t the only ones conditioned to respect the chair at all times. Or is it that old habits die hard? You know you’ve had a true Pittsburgh upbringing that you just can’t shake when no other car is around and yet you’re compelled to stake your claim. 

The Pittsburgh Parking Chair is Classic Pittsburgh to the max. Whether you love it or loath it likely depends on if the chair is yours or not. But one thing’s for sure – it isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. These chairs are stalwart warriors ready to defend their owner in battle as well as welcome them back home day after day.

So the next time you see one you don’t have to love it, but maybe lean back for a second and appreciate all of its Game of Thrones-type power.

This content was provided by a local, independent contributor to Made in PGH, a lifestyle blog.
Mo Macel

Mo is a pun-loving Pittsburgher who likes to take photos and write. She blogs at givegodyouryes.com and fullhipster.com.

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