Map of Pittsburgh public staircases. Red dots are staircases that need surveyed.

The City of Pittsburgh needs your help.

Pittsburgh is home to over 700 stairways – the most public steps of any city in America — and only a fraction of them have been recently surveyed. Many have fallen into disrepair over the decades, yet no one knows fully to what extent.

That’s where you come in.

The Department of City Planning is looking for volunteers to help conduct its inaugural Pittsburgh Steps Survey. The census, which will take place at a date to be determined in the coming weeks, will catalog each of the city’s staircases, spanning 66 of the city’s 90 neighborhoods.

Volunteers will work in teams of three. One person will note the condition of the steps and and note any cracking, chipping or spalling. A second volunteer will inspect the handrails for rust and instability. The final group member will take photos of problem areas and log all of the information into an electronic tablet provided by City Planning.

Surveyors will also note overgrowth, sediment deposits, damage to structural supports and any missing rails or lighting elements.

The results of the survey will be used in conjunction with community input to prioritize step repair and maintenance.

The Department of City Planning’s GIS (geographic information system) division has already mapped out the city’s steps thanks in large part to data provided by Bob Regan, author of the book The Steps of Pittsburgh: Portrait of a City.

The map, which is available to the public online, reports that Pittsburgh has 739 sets of city steps — 344 of which are legally considered streets — comprised of 45,454 individual steps. (According to a Wall Street Journal article from 2014, the number of staircases may be down to about 675.)

Interested individuals can find more information at the DCP’s public steps page or may simply fill out this form to volunteer.

Brian Conway

Brian Conway is a writer and photographer whose articles have appeared in the Chicago Tribune and local publications. In his free time, he operates Tripsburgh. Brian lives in the South Side.