Project to light 18th Street steps completed after five years of work


October 2, 2012

A five-year project to improve the lighting on the 18th Street steps to Pius Street is now completed. Each stair tread will be illuminated by a linear LED fixture. Along with the tread lighting, Cor-ten poles will hold projector fixtures to carpet the steps in a pattern of colored light. A lighting ceremony will take place on Friday, Oct. 6 at 7 p.m.

After five years of planning and work, the 18th Street Steps Lighting Project connecting the South Side Flats and the South Side Slopes will finally be illuminated on October 5 in a fitting kick off to the annual event celebrating the South Side Slopes: Pittsburgh StepTrek.

At seven stories from bottom to top, the 140 steps connecting South 18th Street to Pius Street are the most iconic structure marking the connection between the South Side Flats and the South Side Slopes. They were poorly lit and provided fertile ground for public safety concerns after dark. The South Side Local Development Company, which closed its doors in June 2012, and the South Side Slopes Neighborhood Association partnered to commission a solution to this problem.

The step lighting project aims to reverse negative perceptions, provide much-needed illumination along this pedestrian thoroughfare and celebrate a community icon. Those involved also hope this project will serve as a catalyst for further neighborhood investment and economic development.

Each stair tread is illuminated by a linear LED fixture. Cor-ten, an alloy of steel designed to rust and create a protective layer when exposed to weather, was chosen not only for its durability but for its resonation with the historic industrial lifeblood of the South Side. Projector fixtures attached to the cor-ten light poles carpet the steps in a pattern of colored light, while a cor-ten sign marks the otherwise invisible Pius Street terminus.

The 18th Street Steps Lighting Project was designed by Loysen + Kreuthmeier Architects, studio i architectural lighting, Klavon Design Associates, Watson Engineers and Baker Engineering. Those involved in the construction of the project include: Viastar Electric, TC Stein Industries, LLC, Technique Architectural Products, Dean Contracting, Ripley & Sons Construction and Richard Roth.

The project was made possible through funding provided by Duquesne Light, the City of Pittsburgh, the Elm Street Program of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and countless volunteer hours provided by members of the SSSNA and others.

On Friday, Oct. 6 at 7 p.m., Judy Dyda, who led the effort for the South Side Local Development Company, will provide remarks before electrician Russ Kim throws the switch to illuminate this spectacular new structure.

Following the lighting ceremony, the 12th annual Pittsburgh StepTrek will be held on Saturday, Oct. 6 from 11 a.m. until 4 p.m. More than 1,000 participants are expected to take part in this self-guided tour of the South Side Slopes and trek more than 3,000 of the steps that line the neighborhood. More information on StepTrek can be found at

For more information on StepTrek or the SSSNA, visit


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