Steps We Take – Polish Hill

What if Pittsburgh’s steps were vertical parks? Landscape architects Merritt Chase and members of the Polish Hill Civic Association will temporarily transform Polish Hill’s city steps into vertical parks, activated by vertical parties between multiple city steps. The vertical parks will create a system of gathering spaces throughout the neighborhood with seating, gateways, and signage. 

The vertical parties will include an evening block party along the Harding Way steps on Friday, October 4th, and a pierogi brunch between the Phelan Way and Paulowna Street steps on Sunday, October 6th. Self-guided tours will also invite exploration of the neighborhood’s steps and individual documentation of city step conditions. Vertical Parks / Vertical Parties becomes a playful reminder that the city steps are Pittsburgh’s most unique public infrastructure and deserving of continued civic investment. 

The project is led by the Polish Hill Civic Association and Pittsburgh-based artist team, Merritt Chase in collaboration with Polish Hill artists Gina Favano, Amalia Kalisz Tonsor, and Caleb Gamble. This program is generously supported by the Hillman Foundation.

Event Details

Steps We Take Self Guided Tour: October 4th – 6th

Take a self-guided walking tour through the neighborhood to find all of the incredible gateways plus temporary seating, signs and tables designed and created by landscape architects Merritt Chase in collaboration with Polish Hill artist and musician Gina Favano.

Click here to download a map!

Vertical Block Party: Friday, October 4th (7pm-10pm)

Music by May Day Marching Band, DJ Erica Scary and Come Holy Spirit. Food and Drinks by The Pub Chip Shop and Arsenal Cider House.
Getting there
  • Bus: 54 to Polish Hill. Stop: Dobson St at Brereton St or Dobson St at Herron Ave
  • Bike: Take Herron Ave to Dobson Street. Bike parking available at the event
  • Where to park: Street Parking
  • ADA accessible

Vertical Pierogi Party: Sunday, October 6th (11am-1pm)

Pierogi and kielbasa by Black Sheep BBQ. Music curated by DJ Erica Scary. Live appearance by Sauerkraut Saul from the Pittsburgh Pirates. Step story recordings by Amalia Kalisz Tonsor and Caleb Gamble.

Getting there
  • Bus: 54 to Polish Hill. Stop: Brereton St at Dobson St
  • Bike: Take Herron Ave to Brereton Street. Bike parking available at the event
  • Where to park: Street Parking
  • ADA accessible

Join BikePGH and the Office of Public Art for a new event series to celebrate city steps and walkable neighborhood connections. Learn more at

about the Artist Team

Merritt Chase is a Pittsburgh-based landscape architecture and public art practice founded by designers Chris Merritt and Nina Chase. Merritt Chase’s work advocates for the transformation of the public realm in cities.

Streets, sidewalks, plazas, parks, and waterfronts are the communal spaces that make cities lively and diverse, and the firm is dedicated to positioning these urban landscapes as the foundational building blocks of cities. Through design and activation, Merritt Chase’s projects layer research, culture, and ecologies to create unexpected public spaces in cities.



Pittsburgh has approximately 800 sets of steps – more public staircases than any other city in the United States. The steps are an important and under-resourced connection between communities, which thousands of residents rely on to get around. Nearly two-thirds of the steps are in low- or moderate-income areas and many are located in the City’s hilliest neighborhoods. Many of these neighborhoods also lack strong public transit resources. Here are some ways that you can get involved.


Contact the City’s 311 system to report problems, fixes, and issues with the steps to the City’s 311 Response Center. The easiest methods to contact them are by:

Tweeting @PGH311
Calling 3-1-1 (Between 8am-6pm, Monday- Friday )
Outside of Pittsburgh, call 412-255-2621
Download the MyBurgh app
Visit the website:


Your council person is there to serve you, their constituents and advocate at the City on your behalf. Reach out to them with your concerns for the steps and let them know what the steps mean to you. The easiest way to contact them is to email or call their offices

Contact Information for the Polish Hill:
District 7
Councilwoman Deb Gross


“Repairing or replacing an on-structure staircase is a logistical, design, and construction undertaking comparable to a small bridge project. As a result, the City has taken on only a few staircase projects in the last few years. There is a need to prioritize these investments to make the most impact for people walking in Pittsburgh’s hilliest neighborhoods.” Learn more about the Steps plan:


Join your neighborhood’s Community Group to get involved with neighborhood issues, fixing the stairs, and making sure that walking and biking concerns are heard in the community.

Polish Hill Civic Association
Instagram: @polishhillcivic