Spark Program Logo

The Spark program is part of Pittsburgh's overall strategy for creating safe, complete streets and new open spaces. Complete streets balance the needs of people walking, riding bicycles, taking transit, or moving around in a private automobiles. Streets and sidewalks make up to fifty percent of the City’s land area and are an integral part of our daily experience. Many sidewalks are narrow and leave little space for public life. Sparks extend the sidewalk into a street's parking lane, providing space for gathering and a respite in the sidewalk network. New open spaces created through the addition of a small park to a streetscape add to the City’s inventory of larger parks and playgrounds.

In 2018, the City of Pittsburgh is offering an opportunity to build small parks in the right-of-way through a pilot program. A Spark is a temporary, public seating area comprised of the space usually taken up by 1-2 parallel parking spaces. They are placed in commercial areas and are intended to generate more on-street pedestrian activity that supports nearby businesses. Sparks are created by changing the use of one to two parking spaces and, in their place, building a semi-permanent platform which extends the sidewalk into the street. This platform is buffered from the street by a railing or barrier and can contain plantings, furniture, and other creative pedestrian amenities.

  • Sparks are public spaces
  • Commercial activity is not allowed in a Spark
  • Alcohol is not allowed in a Spark
  • Sparks must be removed in the winter

Why a Pilot?

Trying out a program on a small scale allows the city to refine its process, agreements and design requirements before opening the program up city-wide. In 2018 the City of Pittsburgh will select UP TO 4 Spark applications to participate in the 2018 pilot. Learning from this process, the city anticipates creating a more permanent program for the 2019 season.

Application Process

Please see the 2018 Spark Pilot program guide for information about the program, important deadlines, required materials and the application forms. The 2018 pilot is operating on a swift timeline to get Sparks up and running for the spring / summer season.


Feb 2018 Applications Open
March 4 Initial Applications Due
March 16 Locations Announced
April 4 Final Document Submission
April 25 Art Commission
May Construction and Installation by Project Sponsor
May – November Enjoy and Maintain your Parklet!
November Remove and store your Spark till next season



Art Commission - process and deadlines.

San Francisco Pavement to Parks – check out the longest established program of this type complete with examples and detailed guidelines.

New York Street Seats - transform in underused NYC streets into vibrant, social public spaces between the months of March through December.

Philadelphia Parklet Guidelines


For general questions contact: kristin.saunders@pittsburghpa.gov

For Art Commission questions, contact: yesica.guerra@pittsburghpa.gov