I work in downtown Pittsburgh. I work a very short walk away from Market Square. Some mornings, I sit down at my office desk, work for about an hour, and then check the local news websites.
This morning, I went to the Post-Gazette website and read this article.
Here is what I learned:
That the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership is addressing the Market Square merchant’s concerns about crime by removing all tables and chairs from Market Square outside of the hours of 11:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.
Really? The Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership plans to remove ALL seating from Market Square outside of these two hours? Shame on you, Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership. Shame on you, Market Square merchants, for promoting this action. Well, Market Square merchants, I will never again spend my money at Market Square.
See, a few times a year, I leave work early. On the days before holiday weekends, etc. On these days, I have a few hours to kill before my bus home starts its first run of the afternoon. I used to spend this time shopping at Kaufmann’s Department Store. Then Kaufmann’s became Macy’s, and then Macy’s left downtown Pittsburgh.
So last year, when I had to wait a few hours for my bus and the weather was nice, I sat in Market Square and watched the fragments of other people’s lives.
I spied on chess match between an elderly black man and a young white man. I watched a toddler chase pigeons.
One of my favorite days from last summer was the one that Jonathan met me in Market Square with our cameras, and we both played Street Photographer.
So, this morning’s article from the Post Gazette ticked me off.
How dare they? Tax money paid for the tables and chairs in Market Square! Why do the Market Square merchants get to decide when people can sit in the square?
Here’s the thing: My grandfather was a retired Pittsburgh policeman. I get that public officials need to make decisions about public safety. About ways that might prevent crime. I respect this.
I fully admit that I only sit on Market square outside of 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. a few times each year. I don’t see most of the problem behavior that reportedly happens there.
I’m still disappointed.
Guess who sits in Market Square between the hours of 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m?
People who work “banker’s hours” in downtown office jobs – that’s who sits in Market Square between 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m.
You know: the “right type” of people.
Now, I can identify several “gathering” spots in downtown Pittsburgh on private property. I won’t balk if these private property owners take steps to discourage people from enjoying said private property.
However, the City of Pittsburgh owns the gathering spot in Market Square. So, it disappoints me that Downtown Partnership officials plan to limit its use to the “type” of people who only use it from 11:30 a.m to 1:30 p.m.
One thing more: When I say that I am disappointed, I am not attacking anybody. I simply recognize that my expectations and reality don’t match.
It’s okay to be disappointed.