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Respect the Parking Chair

I have lived my whole life in the Pittsburgh suburbs, where driveways are common and parking space is more than ample. I never really saw any Pittsburgh Parking Chairs in the wild unless I was in neighborhoods closer to the city limits.

My father never used a parking chair and even now that I live in the downtown area of a small town, I’ve never had need of or really put any thought into the Parking Chair.

Three feet of snow will change that real fast."Reserved Parking" shirt from WearPittsburgh

Rarely using our garage to store one of our cars, my SUV lives in the driveway and my husband’s car lives on a side alley of the house. Come Saturday, when my husband returned home from spending the night stranded on the South Side, his parking space was buried under a mountain of snow.

Yeah, once you spend three hours digging out a space to park your car, YOU OWN THAT SPACE. Your name is proverbially on that space. You BOUGHT that space with your blood, sweat, and tears. Your literal blood from oozing blisters. Your literal sweat freezing on your brow. Your literal tears from lower back muscle spasms.

The parking chair is your way of telling people that until the snow melts, this 6 foot by 10 foot space of clear ground is yours. When you place a parking chair in that space, you’re planting your flag on uncharted land. The parking chair, regardless of what it says in the summer, during a snowstorm aftermath, says, “Behold, all ye operators of vehicles. I spent an entire afternoon excavating this spot and if ye pick up and move this chair, or nudge it even a few feet, or so much as TOUCH THIS CHAIR, there will be swift justice meted out.”

The best justice I heard was a Burgher who buried the car of the person who dared move his parking chair. This is what we call “an eye for an eye.” You take the space I dug out? You’ll need to dig for it. IT’S IN THE BIBLE.

I already knew there was a “Parking Chair” shirt over at WearPittsburgh, but there’s a lot of things I learned about the Parking Chair over the last few days.

I learned there’s a map.

I learned there’s a Wikipedia page.

I learned that some Burghers go above and beyond when it comes to reserving their excavated spaces. Reader Jennifer Ciroli says her neighbor Jeff VanderMolen has a surefire way to stop people from moving his parking chair: Photo by Jennifer Ciroli

You dare to move that setup, you might as well just walk into a stranger’s house and start rearranging their living room furniture.


Have your own chair to share? Send a photo of your parking placeholder (or your wacky neighbor's) to Jonathan Wander at jwander@pittsburghmagazine.com.

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