Wood Street symphony: Port Authority adds outdoor classical music for calm | TribLIVE.com

Wood Street symphony: Port Authority adds outdoor classical music for calm

Tom Davidson
Tom Davidson | Tribune-Review
Tom and Fran Woods of Stanton Heights wait for a bus outside the Wood Street station on Liberty Avenue on Wednesday, Aug. 14, 2019.
Tom Davidson | Tribune-Review
People wait on for a bus on the Liberty Avenue side of the Port Authority of Allegheny County’s Wood Street Station in Downtown Pittsburgh on Wednesday, Aug. 14, 2019.
Tom Davidson | Tribune-Review
A speaker plays classical music at the Port Authority of Allegheny County’s Wood Street Station in Downtown Pittsburgh on Wednesday, Aug. 14, 2019.

The sounds of the city now include strings, woodwinds and horns.

The Port Authority of Allegheny County, in response to a summer of increased violence in Downtown Pittsburgh, started playing classical music through speakers outside its Wood Street station.

The music harmonizes and sometimes contrasts with the sounds of buses and the people walking in the triangle formed by Liberty and Sixth avenues and Wood Street. Port Authority officials hope it will induce a calming effect.

This summer, there has been a shooting after the July 4th fireworks display, two stabbings — a woman was killed in one — and other incidents that have prompted authorities to develop plans to increase safety and caused people coming Downtown to become more vigilant.

“It’s more relaxing,” Tom Woods of Stanton Heights said as he waited for a bus on Liberty with his wife, Fran.

“It’s better than any other music they can play, modern songs,” Woods said.

“Like elevator music,” is how his wife described it.

The programming, streamed through WQED’s Q the Music station, has long been heard inside Port Authority stations.

The recent spate of violence spurred Port Authority officials to brainstorm for “low-cost, high-reward” ways to induce people to be calmer, spokesman Adam Brandolph said.

About a week ago, they installed speakers outside the station at a nominal cost and have been streaming the sounds of symphonies and other classical works to mostly positive reviews, Brandolph said.

“We have heard from passersby that it’s pleasant,” he said.

There were a few complaints about the volume, but the music has been turned down, and police have told the Port Authority that it’s decreased people loitering who aren’t waiting for a bus, Brandolph said.

There’s science to back up the idea that the music can make people calmer in the area.

A German study found that classical music can reduce blood pressure and have a calming effect on people’s heart rates.

“If it’s successful that’s great and if not, we can always turn it off,” Brandolph said.

It was pleasing to the ears of North Side resident Corinne Frohnapfel on Wednesday.

“It makes the city more joyful,” she said.

Tom Davidson is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Tom at 724-226-4715, [email protected] or via Twitter .

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