Pittsburghers are a giving lot, and they like to share. But when it comes to parking spots we tend to get territorial, especially after you’ve done the backbreaking labor of shoveling one out after a snowfall. If you travel around the city after a significant snow, you will find old chairs of all types reserving spots—from Bingo Hall folding chairs to that flowered vinyl upholstery and chrome beauty from your Aunt Irma’s old breakfast set. It’s not the form but the function that counts when it comes to parking chairs.

There’s kind of an unwritten “Parking Chair Code” in Pittsburgh that says that if you shovel a space out to park your car and put a chair in the space to reserve it, no one else can move the chair to usurp the spot. Only an ill-mannered idiot (or maybe someone from Baltimore or Cleveland) would move it and park in the spot you worked so hard to clear.

No one is sure how the “Pittsburgh Parking Chair” came into being, but speculation is that the chairs started showing up in the 1950s and 60s when cars began to outnumber available parking slots in the city. Technically, by law you can’t reserve a public parking sport with a chair, but they are generally tolerated by the police who respect the “code of parking chair.”

By Janice Lane Palko