Ten Planning Lessons from Pittsburgh

Source: post-gazette.com

  • An aging industrial city can successfully reinvent itself; but despite doing so, Pittsburgh continues to face the challenge of population decline.
  • As the photo above indicates, pedestrian access to the waterfront from the downtown triangle is too often hindered by auto-centric boulevards and highways. Meanwhile, neighborhoods across the river from downtown such as Station Square and North Shore have embraced their riverfront and thrived.
  • Few cities generate a better first visual impression than entering Pittsburgh from west through the Fort Pitt Tunnel.
  • The urban renewal era demolition of the historically black Hill District was a cultural disaster for the city that still leaves a visible and cultural scar.

Source: revitalization.org

Source: post-gazette.com

  • The downtown triangle of Pittsburgh reminds one of Manhattan for its compactness, vibrancy, and walkability. Well into the 1980s, three (3) department stores still operated there (Kaufman’s, Gimbals, and Horne’s) and it remained the prime retail hub of the region. Unfortunately, like so many other places, changes in shopping habits and poor corporate decisions led to their demise.
  • Few inland American cities can claim to have as many natural geographic and topographic amenities as Pittsburgh.
  • Due to its rugged terrain, Pittsburgh had the unique opportunity to avoid two (2) of the most devastating urban scars that befell other American cities during the second half 20th Century – freeways and shopping malls. Unfortunately, despite being late to the party, these eventually came here too (i.e. I-376, I-279, I-579, Ross Park Mall, Century III Mall, and Monroeville Mall).
  • Bridges are an art form in Pittsburgh, much like in New York and San Francisco.
  • Repurposing old railway lines and tunnels for alternative means of transportation (Busways) has been a successful way of preserving the past while charting a vibrant and more connected future.
  • Due to its variable topography and fairly compact/dense layout, Pittsburgh would be a perfect location for building an urban gondola/aerial tram network as an alternative commuting method. Links could include Station Square/Monongahela Incline to downtown/arena; North Shore/stadiums to downtown/arena; and East Liberty to downtown.



This entry was posted in Active transportation, adaptive reuse, Alternative transportation, architecture, Cars, cities, civics, culture, demographics, downtown, economic development, geography, historic preservation, history, infrastructure, land use, new urbanism, placemaking, planning, pollution, revitalization, skylines, skyscrapers, spatial design, topography, tourism, traffic, transit, transportation, Urban Gondolas, urban planning, walking and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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