Space and Place in Pittsburgh

New to this blog: The Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy Blog has been added to the "Green Pittsburgh" links on the left side.

And I quite liked: David Owen's piece in Sunday's Post-Gazette on the sustainability of dense urban centers. Worldwide, city populations are growing, which means that it is high time that we looked at the environmental advantages as well as the environmental challenges of urbanism. There is some good news in there for Pittsburgh: The city still has the bones of a dense urban center, which means that it could be well-positioned in environmental terms. There is some bad news, too: Pittsburgh may have its urban bones, but it doesn't have a comparably dense urban population. At least, some neighborhoods are far denser than others.

It might seem to be a paradox, but it's not, that sustainable urbanism includes conscious attention to public space. This was an important takeaway from my trek to Amsterdam last month. I suspect that the real reason that Pittsburghers feel that the city/region is undergoing a "renaissance" has more to do with rehabilitating some salient public spaces than with building construction, football and ice hockey championships, and misleading "livability" awards. Well-designed public space has functional payoffs and psychic ones. I'm thinking of changes over the last decade to the Allegheny River riverfront, Point State Park, Market Square (still in progress), parts of the Mon River riverfront, Schenley Plaza, Frick Park, and Highland Park -- to name just a few. Is there another American city of Pittsburgh's size that has a better collection of public spaces?


5 Responses to "Space and Place in Pittsburgh"

Tacitus said... 11/10/2009 12:48 AM

Any comment from you or your students concerning the student tax? I'm sure at least one of your students is politicized locally to take down Darth LukeR

Mike Madison said... 11/10/2009 7:06 AM

I think that the proposed tax is unwise, but I don't have the time or inclination to make an issue of it here.

Stephen Gross said... 11/15/2009 2:51 PM

Do you think there will ever be progress on riverfront public space development by the stadiums?

Anonymous said... 11/21/2009 4:08 PM

Is everyone in this City that criticizes the Mayor a complete idiot? I'm serious. The tax you propose is CLEARLY illegal under the tax enabling act. The tuition tax is not ideal and Luke's biggest screw up is how he tried to sell it, i.e., by saying students don't contribute their fair share. That is garbage, but the simple fact is he doesn't have any other options. If you come up with one that actually works, I can assure you the Mayor will run with it.

Mike Madison said... 11/21/2009 7:48 PM

Is everyone who comments on this blog a complete idiot? I'm serious. I'm not an expert on tax law, but I went back and read Pennsylvania's
Tax Enabling Act, and it looks to me like the fix I'm proposing is specifically authorized (i.e., legal!) under that act. Sure, some of the specifics of the act would have to be changed, but some kind of change in the law is understood as part of what I was posting about in the first place.

Search Pittsblog

About Pittsblog

Pittsblog 2.0 is written by Mike Madison, a law professor at the University of Pittsburgh. Send email to michael.j.madison[at] Mike also blogs at, on law and technology. Chris Briem of Null Space drops by from time to time.

All opinions expressed at Pittsblog 2.0 are those of their respective authors and of no one (and no thing) else, least of all the University of Pittsburgh.

Pittsblog 2.0 has a motto: "It's steel good in Pittsburgh." Say it aloud, with a Pittsburgh accent.

Comments are moderated.
Subscribe to Pittsblog comments


Blog Archive

Header Background

Header background images licensed from (left image) lemonad and (right image) plaskota under Creative Commons Attribution - Noncommercial - Share Alike 2.0 Generic licenses.


Copyright 2003-2010 Michael J. Madison - WP Theme by Brian Gardner - Blogger Blog Templates,