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April 15, 2016


Pittsburgh, PA

If you live in a dense urban neighborhood that was built before nearly everyone owned their own car, you’re probably familiar with parking problems. In Pittsburgh, the city requires parking permits in (most) residential areas with proximity to commercial districts. But residents still remain vigilant for rogue parking jobs, particularly in neighborhoods that have seen accelerated redevelopment and lately feature new bars and restaurants that draw folks in from the suburbs (where driveways and sprawling asphalt lots are more common).

This vigilance takes many forms. The most iconic is “the chair”, which is what it sounds like: a busted piece of seating furniture placed so as to reserve a parallel spot along a curb. Only fools move chairs they did not place themselves. Come winter, the chair takes on a particular urgency as folks shovel out parking spots that they stake ownership over based on the labor which produced it. More complex are the cultural “parking politics” of neighborhoods, opaque and seemingly idiosyncratic to newcomers, chiefly involving careful deference to older residents. I could probably write a small book on the intricate, rarely spoken parking arrangements in the neighborhood I’ve lived in for the last eleven years…

Here’s examples of two very common DIY parking directives I’ve grown used to seeing: the “hey, there’s a garage here and we actually use it” notice, and the accessibility-minded “don’t block the whole damn sidewalk just because this street is narrow”.




DIYDPW is a (semi)weekly blog post highlighting global examples of Do It Yourself Department of Public Works projects. These are defined as any examples of municipal signage or infrastructure, generated by citizens outside of state-sanctioned means, that fulfill a perceived need in the area within which they are installed. I focus specifically on street signage and way-finding graphics, and I take contributions from our readers! Got a photo of a great handmade or otherwise DIY sign that fixes a problem the local municipality had otherwise overlooked? Send it my way. Email (include a web-ready image and location found) to DIYDPW at gmail dot com

Housing & Cities

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