How An Ambassador Program Strives to Make Downtown Pittsburgh More Welcoming

Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership has hired 11 staff members to canvass the Golden Triangle to help visitors, workers feel more comfortable amid safety issues.
An Aerial View Of The Golden Triangle In Pittsburgh


The Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership has launched a program in hopes of making workers, visitors feel more welcome as safety concerns mount.The Golden Triangle Ambassador program, operated by Block by Block with funding from the City of Pittsburgh and community partners, is an expansion of PDP’s Clean and Outreach services and consists of eight full-time ambassadors, two supervisors and a dispatch officer to bring hospitality to Downtown streets seven days a week.

“Downtown is Pittsburgh’s heart and soul, and these Ambassadors will play an integral part in helping everyone feel safe and welcome in the heart of our great city,” said Mayor Ed Gainey in a press release from PDP. “We have seen this type of program work in other cities, and we believe that this initiative will be a critical piece of our efforts to help more people be able to enjoy all that Downtown has to offer.”

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The ambassadors have been training for the last month, becoming acquainted with Pittsburgh officials and the city. They will conduct bike and foot patrols through town from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. each day, offering hospitality and public assistance, as well as visiting with local establishments. They are trained in CPR and Narcan administration, used in cases of opioid overdose. They will also be able to summon help from police or social services, if needed.

Similar programs have been launched in New York City, Cleveland, Baltimore, Philadelphia and Santa Monica, California.

The partnership hopes to have the ambassador program in place for at least five years. Its estimated operating costs are just over $1 million a year, with contributions from 17 area sponsors to offset the cost, including: The Benter Foundation, Buchanan Ingersoll, Buhl Foundation, Calgon Carbon, Citizens, the City of Pittsburgh, Duquesne Light, Eden Hall Foundation, Giant Eagle, Highmark, Huntington, Koppers Inc., PITT OHIO, PNC, PPG, the University of Pittsburgh and UPMC.

Pittsburgh officials have been criticized in recent months as violence, homelessness and drug activity continue to increase. Businesses have also threatened to leave the Downtown. Gainey has recently promised to increase the number of officers Downtown, along with improving access to homelessness, mental health and substance abuse programs. 

PDP notes Downtown is experiencing rapid change and growth as some commuters return to the office and the residential population rises. An estimated 4,400 new residential units are in the works. Visitor foot traffic is close to 2019 levels as an estimated 60,000 people pass through Market Square each week.

“Our ambassadors will greatly enhance our efforts to make Downtown a more welcoming place by adding more trained personnel and key resources to our streets and public spaces,” said PDP President & CEO Jeremy Waldrup. 

“Supporting a program like this is an investment in the future of Downtown as a livable, welcoming and thriving community that reflects the region as a whole,” said Benter Foundation President William Benter in the release.

Lou Cestello, Pittsburgh regional president for PNC Bank added, “Pittsburgh is PNC’s hometown, and we feel passionately about making this a city where all our constituents can thrive. The Ambassadors will be a welcome presence for the Downtown business community as well as the tens of thousands that visit regularly for cultural and sporting events.”

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