The Steps of Pittsburgh

November 9, 2004
Speaker: Author Bob Regan

Video Not Available

Book: The Steps of Pittsburgh: Portrait of a City
By Bob Regan with photos by Tim Fabian

“Many of Pittsburgh’s steps are legal streets, and all of them reflect the city’s unique topography and history. Together, these 712 sets of steps provide a vital link in the city’s transportation system as well as unusual challenges for pedestrians, joggers, the bike police, and especially pizza delivery.

“Whether you intend to climb, scamper or crawl, Pittsburgh’s public steps are a unique feature in this topographically challenging city. Author Bob Regan and photographer Tim Fabian have captured their history, use, charm and care in this well documented and wonderfully photographed book sure to enchant locals and visitors alike. The book includes several easy to follow walking tours, making it a handy field guide as well. San Franciscans like to boast about their steps and consider them a top tourist attraction, but they “only” have 350 sets. Cincinnatians do the same, but claim a mere 400. Neither have steps that are legal streets. Pittsburgh is clearly King of the Steps and a place beloved by the self-propelled. Whether you’re an active step trekker or an armchair climber, The Steps of Pittsburgh should be on your to-do list!

Regan, a geophysicist affiliated with the University of Pittsburgh, moved to town a decade ago and was immediately taken with this unusual link in the local transportation system. Using Geographic Information Systems technology and riding a bicycle up and down Pittsburgh’s many hills, he meticulously located and plotted every set of steps in the city over a period of several years. He counted the number, made notes about type, usage, and unique features, and, most happily for us, talked to everyone he encountered along the way from residents to bike police. The author teamed up with Tim Fabian, a noted Pittsburgh photographer who was quickly infected by Bob’s enthusiasm. With encouragement from colleagues, family, and friends, the two have turned a huge amount of data, wonderful human stories, and thousands of photos into The Steps of Pittsburgh: Portrait of a City.”

Bob Regan is a Visiting Professor at the University of Pittsburgh and a consultant specializing in Geographic Information Systems (GIS). His professional career includes senior level positions in the federal government, major corporations, and universities. His personal interests revolve around bicycling, and he manages, despite the Pittsburgh climate, to cover 2,000-3,000 miles a year doing so. The city steps project was one of the most enjoyable of his career as it was a labor of love combining both his professional and personal interests.

Tim Fabian is a professional photographer and president of ProPhoto, Inc. His work has been in numerous solo and group exhibitions and he is represented in several private and corporate collections as well as in magazines. When he isn’t working on photography projects that interest him, lecturing, or serving as a juror for other artists, he can be found photographing Pittsburgh, his favorite subject.

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