Pittsburgh is the second largest city in Pennsylvania located in the western part of the state. The heart of the city is positioned along the confluence of three rivers- the Ohio, Allegheny, and Monongahela Rivers. Due to this physical location, the city’s waterfront has always played an active role in the economy and identity of the city, from the city’s founding as military forts to its dominance in the steel industry.
As other cities with a manufacturing base declined in the 1970s and 1980s, Pittsburgh lost jobs, population, and a primary use of their waterfront. Since those days, Pittsburgh has struggled of reverse these trends, centered around the revitalization of their most valuable asset – their waterfront. In 1999, Mayor Tom Murphy appointed the Riverlife Task Force, a nonprofit organization established to create a vision “to make Pittsburgh’s urban waterfront one of the most spectacular in the world.” The group is a public-private partnership representing Pittsburgh’s most influential property owners, developers, civic and business leaders to engage in services that will facilitate the future development of “Three Rivers Park.”
Since 1999, the Riverlife Task force has held over 120 public meetings with community groups, river users, and professional associations to ensure that the vision would reflect the diversity of expectations that multiple stakeholders had for riverfront development. The Task Force works closely with developers to facilitate the projects while simultaneously allowing the emerging vision to be shaped and tested.
In 2001, Heinz Field and PNC Park were built as new homes for the Pittsburgh Steelers and Pittsburgh Pirates along the waterfront, and the city has created the Three Rivers Park and the Three Rivers Heritage Trail, a waterfront walkway uniting the city’s greenspace plan. A long list of capital projects remain to be realized as the Task Force and City of Pittsburgh move forward on their vision to make Pittsburgh’s waterfront a national model for waterfront revitalization.