Stepping Through History on Pittsburgh’s Public Stairways


"Pittsburgh has some 800 public stairways according to a City Planning Department tally, more than any other city in the country. Stacked one on top of the other, a stair walker would climb 24,000 vertical feet of steps to complete them all—a four-and-a-half-mile stairway." That is what Bob Regan, who located, counted, and cataloged city stairways, and photographer Tim Fabian tell us in their 2004 book, The Steps of Pittsburgh: Portrait of a City. These step masters of local history say that the earliest public stairways were built between the late 1800s and early 1900s. They were the first form of public transportation for the steel workers who lived in the hills to commute down to the mill in the valley and back each day. Steps served a functional purpose in everyday life, a daily trudge of necessity.

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