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The South Side is one of Pittsburgh’s most interesting, funky, delicious, artistic, industrious and ever-changing neighborhoods. It also splits in half geographically: the level parts of the district (with lots of bars, restaurants, businesses and a variety of housing options) along the Monongahela River are known as the South Side Flats, while the steep, hilly parts (mostly residential) that rise up dramatically from the Flats are known as the South Side Slopes.

Some of the people who live on the Slopes have put together a community group called the South Side Slopes Neighborhood Association, and they work together to make the Slopes a safer, more attractive, more accessible neighborhood, a better place to live. They call the Slopes “A Hillside Garden Community of Pittsburgh, PA.” And they love celebrating the many wonderful staircases that local residents have used for decades to get up and down the hillsides, connecting these South Siders to each other as well as to the folks on the Flats and to people in all the other parts of Pittsburgh. The staircases of the Slopes are awesome, dramatic, probably intimidating at times, and unforgettable as important parts of this unusual hillside neighborhood.

Now once a year the South Sides Slopes Neighborhood Association sponsors a neighborhood tour called the Step Trek, using the steps as an attraction and a means of navigating all the steep hills. The Association lays out two routes: one easy and the other a bit more “extreme.” Both routes allow adventurous walkers to experience often forgotten corners of the Slopes, also revealing some of the most striking and beautiful views of the city of Pittsburgh.

We took our camera to the Slopes on October 17, 2004, to capture some of the excitement, the exercise and the sheer wackiness of people just wandering up and down the Slopes on these old staircases. Every weekend should have such an event that gets people out and about on the stairs, sidewalks and streets of our neighborhoods.


You can easily find out more about the Slopes and the Neighborhood Association.

The Step Trek can be an annual chance to challenge yourself.

The Washington Post suggests the slopes as a travel destination.

And the city supplies some historic perspective on the Slopes.

It’s also a neighborhood with its own newspaper.

There are actually lots of ways to get involved in the neighborhood.

And the steps aren’t the only really unusual attraction on the Slopes.

You can garden on the Slopes too.

If you want statistics, the county has them.

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