Mayor's letter for December

Dear Neighbors,

With 2013 quickly approaching, I’d like to take this time to reflect on another successful year in the City of Pittsburgh. As our Third Renaissance reaches and revitalizes even more neighborhoods, I have never been more proud of the way our residents and neighbors have worked hand-in-hand with the City to clean up blight, remove litter and transform eye sores into beauty. We should all be proud of our neighborhoods, and of the work we’ve done – and continue to do – to ensure that they’re a great place to live and do business. Across the City, many great things happened in 2012.


There are currently more than 1.2 million jobs available in Pittsburgh – that’s more available jobs than ever before. This is a result of our vision to grow strong neighborhoods and business districts by remaining dedicated to impressive neighborhood investment, job creation and a thriving high-tech innovation economy. In 2012 alone, Downtown has seen $5 billion in investment, which brought 30 new restaurants to Market Square and multi-million dollar investments like Gardens at Market, which will transform dilapidated buildings at the Square’s Fifth Street entrance into an 18-story mixed-use building, and the $83 million Piatt Place development to include luxury condos and high-end restaurants. Looking forward, Downtown will become even more vibrant as the new PNC skyscraper – slated to be the world’s greenest skyscraper – moves toward completion.

Pittsburgh’s Third Renaissance expands beyond Downtown. Developments like Bakery Square 2.0 in East Liberty, South Shore Riverfront Park at SouthSide Works and the Garden Block Revitalization project on the Northside bring jobs and much-needed office space for Pittsburgh’s growing and thriving economy.


As we celebrate Pittsburgh’s sixth consecutive year of historic crime lows, the City’s public safety officials continue their efforts to drive crime rates even lower in our neighborhoods with improvements in equipment and upgrades in police cars. Safety officials have received advanced training and over $3 million was dedicated to the demolition of condemned homes in the area. From 2006 through 2011, the City’s overall rate of reported crime dropped by 26 percent.  The safety of Pittsburgh’s residents and businesses has been and will remain the highest priority in the New Year.


Since 2008, more than 3,000 students have pursued higher education thanks to The Pittsburgh Promise – a scholarship program that gives Pittsburgh Public Schools students up to $40,000 to follow their dreams. This past June, the first Promise scholars graduated from college and the program will come full circle as local employers hire from a newly trained, local talent pool.


We have taken many steps to reduce the City’s energy usage and save taxpayers’ money. Just this year, we upgraded 3,700 business district street lights to brighter, cleaner, cost-efficient LED lights; conducted energy-efficient improvements to the City-County Building; and are creating Green Central, the City’s first one-stop-shop for green- and sustainability-related information.

The Department of Public Works (DPW) has made strides toward improving streets and cleaning up communities. This year, DPW paved almost 60 miles of City streets, installed 56 new handicap ramps, and – through the Mayor’s Redd Up and Green Up programs – cleaned up 43 lots, boarded up 102 abandoned buildings, cleared 466 tons of debris, created 12 new community gardens and opened two new dog parks.


From renovated senior centers to community farmers markets to youth-friendly events, residents of all ages had the opportunity to enjoy Pittsburgh in 2012. The recent reopening of the historic South Side Market House marked the completion of the first of three renovation phases to bring the building to complete usability and restore quality-of-life programming for senior residents. The project, originally slated for almost $1 million in repairs, cost under $250,000 thanks to in-house work provided by the City’s Public Works department.

Safety repairs and improvements have recently been made to many of the City’s 130 parks and playgrounds, including safety surface installments, upgraded courts and lighting, and improved overall appearance. Farmers markets were held in neighborhoods across the City during the summer and fall to provide residents with locally grown food and handmade crafts. Among a variety of family- and youth-friendly events, the City held its first-ever “Wallflowers and Wildflowers: Alternative Homecoming” dance for teens who find it difficult or intimidating to attend their own school’s dance among their classmates.


By obtaining a Cities of Service grant from Bloomberg Philanthropies and Rockefeller Foundation, Mayor Ravenstahl launched servePGH in March 2011 to engage Pittsburgh’s citizens in service and to answer President Obama’s national call to volunteerism.  Through eight new and innovative servePGH initiatives, the Mayor has engaged citizens in volunteer-fueled solutions to revitalize close to 200 City blocks, restore vulnerable residents’ homes, help middle-school youth navigate life’s challenges, clean up over 21,000 pounds of litter, and more.  Over 3,000 volunteers have committed over 30,000 hours of service through servePGH to date.


Despite the nation’s biggest downturn since the Great Depression, Pittsburgh has stayed on top. Accolades touting the City’s successes continue to come in. This year alone, we were named one of “20 Cities with the Happiest Young Professionals” and one of “25 Best Places to Retire in 2012” by, one of 20 “Best of the World” must-see places to visit in 2012 by National Geographic Traveler, a top 10 “American Comeback City” by Forbes, and America’s “Most Livable City” year after year by The Economist and list goes on, and the resounding message is clear – Pittsburgh is a growing city, a revitalized city, a thriving city. And people across the world are taking note.

As we look forward to another successful year in 2013, I anticipate even more milestones to be reached, neighborhoods to be improved and accolades to be received. And I look forward to working together with residents, community organizations and businesses to write the next chapter in Pittsburgh’s remarkable story. I wish everyone a safe, healthy and happy New Year.

Mayor's monthly message

Dear Neighbors,

As we enjoy the beautiful weather Pittsburgh has to offer during the summer months, it is refreshing to venture outdoors and into our City neighborhoods. It’s also important to recognize the development and transformation happening all around us.  Not only is Downtown evolving, but every corner of Pittsburgh is feeling the change and economic growth of Pittsburgh’s Third Renaissance. While our City’s first and second renaissance brought development into Downtown, our current Third Renaissance is spreading economic development across all City neighborhoods.

With almost $5 billion in investment in Downtown, the heart of Pittsburgh continues to become more vibrant. With a new PNC skyscraper – slated to be the world’s greenest skyscraper, 30 new restaurants at Market Square and an $83 million Piatt Place development to include luxury condos and high-end restaurants, residents and visitors are finding more and more reasons to come Downtown. Successes like these are happening all across the City as economic development spreads into more neighborhoods, with projects like the new South Shore River Front Park, Larimer’s Environment and Energy Community Outreach Center, Garfield’s Glass Lofts and East End’s Bakery Square. Pittsburgh’s Third Renaissance is a renaissance of neighborhoods!

Despite the nation’s biggest economic downturn since the Great Depression, Pittsburgh has stayed on top. Utilizing this momentum, Pittsburgh has encouraged students to not only pursue higher education here but to continue living here after they received their degrees. Pittsburgh is one of only five U.S. cities – and the only city outside of Texas – that added jobs over the last decade. The most recent census shows that students are listening. Pittsburgh has more young people between the ages of 20 to 24 than ever before. We continue to encourage students and young professionals to choose Pittsburgh.

I believe that our City will continue to attract more economic development, competitive jobs and young families as we continue to expand our Third Renaissance into even more City neighborhoods. I look forward to the continued growth and revitalization that will ensure Pittsburgh remains “America’s Most Livable City.”

Luke Ravenstahl
Mayor, City of Pittsburgh

Mayor's May Message

Dear Neighbors,

Summer is right around the corner and, for the City of Pittsburgh, it marks a season full of fun activities and events for residents and visitors. A number of activities are available at our City’s parks and recreation centers, from water safety classes for kids to free lunch programs for youth and seniors. Many communities host farmer’s markets and community festivals, and several large-scale events are enlivening our City, like the Three Rivers Art Festival and the International Jazz Festival.

You can create your own events, too. Team up with your neighbors to clean up nearby streets, plan a community gathering or attend local sporting events. Throughout the summer, be sure to pay attention to weather alerts and encourage each other to stay safe and cool during heat advisories.

This summer also marks a milestone in our City’s commitment to educating our students.  The first class of Pittsburgh Promise scholars graduates this year! Throughout the month of June, many events will take place to honor the students’ achievement and encourage them to give back by participating in community service.  To join in the celebrations, please visit to learn more about the exciting events taking place this month and how you can get involved. As a co-founder of the Pittsburgh Promise, I am extremely proud of our students and hope that we can continue to encourage Pittsburgh’s young talent to pursue higher education.

I’m looking forward to a safe, fun and exciting summer, and I hope you will take advantage of the many family-friendly activities happening across our City.

Mayor's message for March

Dear Neighbors,

With last month being Black History Month and March being named Women’s History Month, now is the time to remember and celebrate the brave men and women who have historically fought against societal adversity to become inspiring success stories. While there is still work to be done, it’s encouraging to see how far we have come as a city to embrace and encourage diversity.

When I became Mayor, a top priority of mine was to increase diversity among City employees. In 2007, I launched the successful DiverseCity 365 program – a proactive approach to promoting the cultural core values that nurture diversity, eliminate barriers, increase awareness, provide opportunity and ensure inclusion as a deliberate part of daily operations.

Since the start of the program, the City has experienced unprecedented results. City of Pittsburgh job applications have increased by more than 500%, achieving the highest amount of applications ever in the City’s history. This increase in applicants resulted in minority applicants increasing by 60%, female hires increasing by 40%, and minority hires increasing by 50% (more than any other period in history).

DiverseCity 365 has achieved community engagement and recruitment success thanks to a number of efforts, including:

· partnering with more than 500 community organizations,

· making the application process user-friendly,

· providing preparation resources and guidance,

· offering community assistance centers,

· eliminating fees and other obstacles to employment,

· providing opportunity to meet key City leaders,

· and by traveling to our neighborhoods to describe the dynamics of City employment.

Since its launch, the DiverseCity 365 program’s tangible and intangible results have disrupted traditional and historical trends of inequity and exclusion. The program is not just about increasing applicants and the statistics of hires, it’s also about impact – the change in perception, community and culture. I’m proud of this program’s successes to date, and look forward to continuing to see results. I encourage other employers to adopt programs similar to DiverseCity 365 so that we as a city can continue to promote diversity and inclusion.

If you were unable to visit the City’s exhibit “A City of Rhythm: A Tribute to African America Music in Pittsburgh” last month, I encourage you to visit the numerous events taking place this month throughout the City that celebrate the inspiring women that make up Pittsburgh’s rich history.


Luke Ravenstahl

Mayor, City of Pittsburgh

Mayor's February message

Dear Neighbors,

Keeping our streets safe and adopting green technology to save taxpayer dollars remains a priority as we begin 2012 in the City of Pittsburgh. As you may have noticed, Pittsburgh’s business districts are looking brighter, safer and cleaner this year.

In December, we began replacing streetlights in more than 40 business districts with improved, energy-efficient Light Emitting Diode (LED) streetlights. This enhancement will make our business districts safer and better-lit as residents and visitors visit our local shops and restaurants. The new streetlights produce a brighter, cleaner light that improves visibility for drivers and pedestrians and have a longer life than standard bulbs. In addition, the City will reduce its energy usage by more than 60 percent, saving taxpayers approximately $110,000 per year.

This is the latest in my efforts to restore, revive and reinvest in our business districts. Through the Taking Care of Business Districts program, crews responded to a list of action items delivered by 311 callers and businesses, including graffiti removal, painting road lines, problematic sidewalks and other property citations. The TCOB program also provides neighborhood businesses districts with clean sweeps, infrastructure improvements and long-term strategies to renew the neighborhood lifelines.

If we want to continue to grow and improve Pittsburgh, we have to keep our local businesses strong and vibrant. Keep an eye out for these improvements in your community and take this opportunity to walk through your local business district and visit some of our City’s great businesses.


Luke Ravenstahl

Mayor, City of Pittsburgh

November newsletter from the Mayor's office

Dear Neighbors,

I’m pleased to announce that recently we have welcomed two new staff members to work in my Youth Policy Department: Olivia Benson as Youth Policy Manager, and Nick Martini as Deputy Youth Policy Manager. In their new roles, Olivia and Nick will continue to work on youth initiatives throughout the city while expanding and improving upon ways to attract and retain young people in Pittsburgh. The Youth Policy Department, in conjunction with our schools and community organizations, also works to ensure our students are ‘Promise Ready’ and, upon graduation from high school, have the opportunity to receive up to $40,000 for college studies.

This year, I have tasked Olivia and Nick to develop ways to better serve youth and young families in the City of Pittsburgh.  In addition to working with the Mayor’s Youth Council, the appointed members of the Propel Pittsburgh Commission and the Mayor’s Youth Commission, the Youth Policy Department has set forth a series of goals and objectives to:

  • Reduce youth and gang violence by developing leadership opportunities for young people in our communities.
  • Partner with our schools and nonprofit organizations to maximize information about education and youth resources in Pittsburgh.
  • Encourage young people to explore opportunities for innovation, home ownership and small business development.
  • Retain young adults in Pittsburgh by highlighting the City’s growth, educational and advancement opportunities.

I am pleased to have two new members in our Youth Policy Department, and I would like to thank all of you for welcoming Olivia and Nick. I hope that you will feel free to contact them with your ideas and suggestions for ways to continue to make Pittsburgh ‘America’s Most Livable City.’

If you have any questions, or would like to learn more about Youth Policy in our City, please call 412-255-2258 or email or


Luke Ravenstahl

Mayor, City of Pittsburgh

October newsletter from the Mayor's office

Dear Neighbors,

I’m proud to say that Pittsburgh has a strong tradition of neighbors-helping-neighbors.  Just last year, close to a third of Pittsburgh’s residents devoted 75.2 million hours of service, amounting to an approximate value of $1.6 billion. At a time when budgets are tight, it is the dedicated support of citizens that keeps Pittsburgh ‘America’s Most Livable City.’ Building on this belief, I launched servePGH this past spring, an ambitious campaign to address our City’s greatest needs through service and volunteerism.

I’m happy to announce that there are several opportunities for you to roll up your sleeves and volunteer this fall.  Through Love Your Block, one of my servePGH initiatives, 11 neighborhoods are currently engaging volunteers to work hand-in-hand with City departments to revitalize their blocks.  Projects include community gardens, public art installation, veterans’ memorial rehab, playground cleanups, and vacant lot remediation.  Throughout September and October, you are invited to the Love Your Block volunteer events and community celebrations that take place across the City.  For a complete calendar of activities, visit to get involved.

Also, mark your calendar for the annual Redd Up Weekend, October 21-23.  Approximately 10,000 volunteers will hit the streets to clean Pittsburgh’s 90 neighborhoods.  Groups and individuals interested in participating should contact Citizens Against Litter at or 412-688-9120.  In late October, I will also launch Redd Up Zone, a servePGH initiative to engage volunteers to clean streets and reduce blight.  Check the servePGH website soon to learn more about how to get involved.

Finally, it is important to support and encourage the great leaders that inspire us all. That is why I have launched Mayor Luke Ravenstahl’s Citizen Service Award, which recognizes community leaders who have contributed exceptional levels of service toward the advancement of Pittsburgh communities. You can nominate yourself or other community members by filling out the online submission form at

For more information, email or call 412-255-4765.

There are opportunities for everybody to make our City a better place.  Choose just one and you’ll enrich the lives of your neighbors, as well as your own.  Join me in serving our City today.


Luke Ravenstahl
Mayor, City of Pittsburgh

Citiparks summer guide to parks and recreation

(A guest post from the office of Mayor Ravenstahl)

Dear Neighbors,

Recreation remains an essential component of Pittsburgh’s outstanding quality of life. Those of us who live in Pittsburgh are fortunate to have many urban parks and green spaces with plenty of free and low-cost activities available to keep our families busy all summer long.

Our Citiparks offer a variety of events, activities, and competitions. This summer I invite you to come out and get creative with the Roving Art Cart, pack a picnic, and enjoy a free movie night with friends and family. Or get into the competitive spirit for a match at the Mellon Park Tennis Center!

Pick up a copy of the free “Citiparks Summer Magazine” and begin planning an action-packed summer. The 60-page booklet showcases the 2011 schedule of events for community festivals, movies, footraces, farmers’ markets, and more. It also allows for quick reference concerning the facilities’ locations and phone numbers.

Consider this booklet to be a City resident’s official “user’s guide” for summer.

Print copies of the Summer Magazine are available at Citiparks facilities, such as pools and community recreation centers, as well as at the 3-1-1 Center in the City-County Building. Thanks to a variety of community partnerships, the booklet is also available at Carnegie Library branches within the City limits, the Schenley Park Visitor Center, and the VisitPittsburgh welcome center on Liberty Avenue in Downtown Pittsburgh.

For your convenience, these schedules and resources for Citiparks programs and events – in addition to the Summer Magazine posted as a printable document – are available online by visiting the Citiparks website.

Note:  The PHCA office also has copies of the Summer Magazine — stop in to say hello, and pick one up.  And don’t forget — the West Penn pool opens on Thursday the 16th!

Mayor Ravenstahl’s January Newsletter

By: Mayor Luke Ravenstahl

Happy New Year! Winter’s short days and cold temperatures often bring higher energy bills, but there are opportunities year round to reduce your energy consumption and save money without sacrificing comfort. Make your New Year’s resolution to save energy and money. Here are some tips, and organizations that can help:

Take small steps such as Weather-stripping to seal leaks at the edges of windows or doors; Caulking to seal gaps that don’t open and shut (e.g. where a fireplace or an air vent is built into the wall); and Insulating to keep the warm air in and the cool air out!

In an effort to increase home energy efficiency, the U.S. Department of Energy recently announced a pilot Home Energy Scoring Program. Similar to the government-rating for fuel efficiency of vehicles, a standardized home energy score is expected to help Americans know how many “miles to the gallon” their homes get. Allegheny County was chosen as one of ten areas selected for this pilot project. The Pittsburgh-region pilot will partner with existing neighborhood house tours to highlight the score of energy efficiency improvements. If your neighborhood association is interested in learning more, please contact EfficiencyPA’s program manager John Horchner at 412-428-9533. Interested Homeowners can visit House Tour with a Home Energy Score, for more information.

Other loan and utility assistance programs for residents:

• Home Improvement Loans: The Urban Redevelopment Authority offers low- and no- interest loans for home renovations and repairs, including energy efficiency improvements. Contact: 412-255-6600.

• Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP): A federally funded program that provides cash assistance with residential heating bills. Contact: 412-562-2146. LIHEAP Crisis Assistance assists with termination notices, service restoration, delivery of
heating fuel (oil, kerosene, wood, propane) and emergency repairs/replacements to a heating system or to gas or fuel lines. Contact: 1-800-851-3838.

• $1 Energy Fund: Provides utility assistance to customers who “fall through the cracks” of other programs or still have a critical need after other resources have been exhausted. Contact: 412-431-2800.

For more information on these programs, please visit Sustainability Updates on the Pittsburgh City site.

I wish you a warm and safe New Year!
Mayor Ravenstahl

Mayor's October Neighborhood Message

Dear Neighbors,

As you may have already heard, this summer we received the great news that Pittsburgh was selected to receive a prestigious Cities of Service Leadership Grant. This grant will help the City increase volunteerism and address our City’s greatest needs through service.

Thanks to this grant, the City has been able to hire its first Chief Service Officer, Rebecca Kottler-Wein, who is developing a high-impact service plan to harness the power of volunteers and impact on pressing local challenges, including neighborhood development and educationally-disadvantaged youth.  As opportunities to participate are shared in the coming months, I hope that you choose to get involved and serve!

I am proud to say that the Pittsburgh has a strong tradition of neighbors-helping-neighbors.  Throughout our City’s history, volunteers have played a critical role in providing essential services to residents, and building leadership and capacity among citizens to address community concerns.

I would like to extend a special thank you to all of you who already volunteer your time to making a difference in the lives of your neighbors.  Many Pittsburghers dedicate their time to activities like coaching neighborhood softball leagues, mentoring middle school students or organizing community clean-ups in their communities.  It is through efforts like these that Pittsburgh is becoming an even better place to live, work and raise a family.

For more information about the new Cities of Service initiative, please call 412-255-4765.