Steps of Pittsburgh
Explore Pittsburgh’s Many Steps & Staircases

By Albrecht Powell, Guide (

While located at the point of three intersecting rivers, the city of Pittsburgh is also uniquely surrounded by hills – and lots of them. The city, in the words of newspaper columnist Ernie Pyle in 1937, “must have been laid out by a mountain goat. It’s up and down and around and around and in betwixt.” In order to help Pittsburghers navigate this steep terrain quickly in the days before the automobile, steps and stairs sprung up all over the city. On some of the steepest hills, steps even double as legal streets. Known as “paper streets,” these staircases appear on maps as valid thoroughfares – an often consternating surprise to unsuspecting visitors.

The city of Pittsburgh has 712 public stairways with a total of 44,645 steps according to Bob Regan’s The Steps of Pittsburgh (Local History Co.: 2004). Tallied together, that’s more than 24,000 vertical feet, or four miles in height – more than 4,000 feet highter than Mt. McKinley, the highest mountain peak in North America. It also gives Pittsburgh the distinction as the U.S. city with the most public stairways. With 712 sets of stairs, the city of Pittsburgh has almost as many steps as the next two cities on the list (Cincinnati, 400 and San Francisco, 350) combined.


About Ben Shannon (His words from

I am always writing a song. I have just finished my first of four albums. I perform all originals with a few covers that I’ve made my own. I gig solo as a singer and accompany myself on guitar, piano, and harmonica. I also do gigs with a full backing band of awesome musicians.

I was born in Nashville Tennessee and grew up in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania. My father gave me my first acoustic guitar and shortly thereafter, my mother gave me an electric. My first song was “Hey Mr.Tambourine Man.” Once I learned the chords, I started making my own songs with them. It wasn’t until I returned from a youth-mission trip to Russia during the summer of my 9th grade year, that I began writing in earnest. I think it was because writing was the only way I could express the scope of what I was going through. Ten years later I was riding shotgun to with the bass player Brian Richmond to meet up with the rest of our band Pledge Drive, and the song “Great Day To Be Alive” written by Darrel Scott came on the radio. Listening then I knew I wanted to write plain spoken songs that talked sense and had something to say. More and more my answer to the question, “What do you want to do in music?” was, “I want to write a song that everyone wants to sing.”

So I set to work on the best damn record I’ve always wanted to hear. After years of fooling with recording equipment, bouncing around basements doing this and that piece by piece, I found myself a studio with some time, taste, talent, and top-notch gear on hand. Next thing I know money started flying through my hands and into the hands of very capable professionals. 16 songs tracked, 13 mixed, 11 on the album and I am officially a recording artist.

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