Thanksgiving is approaching, so it is time to talk turkey about Downtown Pittsburgh. While all the new development is welcome, and green construction to be lauded, a number of basic problems make Downtown still largely unappealing:
1) Downtown Pittsburgh is mostly concrete and hard surfaces. Buses trucks, construction noise and, my favorite, people blasting their car radios without any attempt at intervention by the police make it a place to avoid at all costs.
2) Downtown lacks enough trees. Boulevard of the Allies, Stanwix, Grant, Smithfield, Market, Liberty and Penn avenues all should be lined by large-leafed, shade-giving trees to absorb loud sounds and soften the industrial, hard-surfaced presentation of the city. And, please, stop choosing those thin-leafed, shadeless locust trees.
3) Most stores and restaurants Downtown and in the rest of the city do not "draw you in." Their signage is nondescript, flat, bland. Stores and restaurants, especially those with sidewalk tables, should be encouraged and permitted by ordinance to present large, welcoming, colorful awnings to soften the city's ambience and whet people's appetites.
4) Having mentioned colorful, let's admit this is still one drab Downtown. How about these ideas? Paint all the bridges in different pleasant pastel colors, remove all the rust from overpasses and railings, color and soften the huge wall along the 10th Street Bypass and permit no more Downtown construction that is exclusively gray-colored steel.
5) As a final note, the city should be working with Point Park University to construct a pedestrian bridge over the Boulevard of the Allies, both for student safety and to tie together the currently disconnected sections of the school.
I do hope the city fathers get to read this.