Built in 1867 by what was then the City of Allegheny, the Northside’s Allegheny Commons is Pittsburgh’s oldest park.
Known in part for being home to many of the city’s oldest trees and its wide Victorian-era promenade (to accommodate large hoop skirts as ladies passed), Allegheny Commons has long been the front yard for several of Pittsburgh’s most socio-economically and racially diverse neighborhoods. In 1999 citizens formed a group, the Allegheny Commons Initiative, and completed The Master Plan for Allegheny Commons in 2002. See the full Master Plan here.
New partnership in Allegheny Commons
The park originally featured four spectacular fountains. Over time each of these fountains has been filled or shut down due to city budget and staffing constraints. As part of the third phase of the long-term master plan, the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy will oversee the design and construction of the $2.5 million restoration of the fountain and surrounding areas in the North Commons at the intersection of Cedar Avenue and North Avenue. We do so in partnership with the Allegheny Commons Initiative and the Northside Leadership Conference.
The Allegheny Commons Northeast Fountain Restoration, which comprises approximately one city block, includes reconstruction of the historic fountain and surrounding gardens, as well as restoration of the promenade and other walk ways, plus installation of new signage, benches, lighting, and other amenities. Stay tuned for more information on this exciting project!
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Arsenal and Leslie Park
Serving the Lawrenceville neighborhood, the 20-acre Arsenal Park is a well-used community space with a rich and visible heritage.
The park sits at the location of the historic Allegheny Arsenal, established during the War of 1812, and site of the nation’s largest civilian disaster during the Civil War: the explosion of September 17, 1862. A bronze plaque located at the main entrance of Arsenal Middle School commemorates the 78 lives lost from the disaster.
Today, plans to enhance this community greenspace are speeding along, thanks to groups like Lawrenceville Corporation, Lawrenceville United, and Friends of Arsenal Park. Starting in 2014, the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy was invited by these partners to help develop a master plan for Arsenal Park. This plan, to be unveiled in 2015, will reflect the community’s visions in restoring this important space.
Arsenal and Leslie Parks Master Plan
Started May 2014, the Arsenal and Leslie Parks Master Plan is nearing completion. An exciting next step for these two greenspaces seeped in local history, the plan is a collaborative effort shared by the City of Pittsburgh, the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy, Lawrenceville United, Lawrenceville Corporation, Friends of Arsenal Park, and the Leslie Park Collective.
This 79-acre community park is a gathering place for the Beltzhoover neighborhood. McKinley Park, which historians say gives one “a euphoric sense of the countryside,” features children’s play areas, wooded hiking trails, a skate park, sports courts, a baseball field, and a senior center.
After years of inattention, historic stone entryways that had once welcomed visitors to McKinley Park were deteriorating. Residents from surrounding neighborhoods sought to re-establish not only the entrance, but also connections throughout the park. With the aid of local government and state funding, the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy led the project to restore this important community space.
On July 12, 2013, the City of Pittsburgh, Representative Jake Wheatley, City Council members Bruce Kraus, Daniel Lavelle, and Natalia Rudiak, and the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy celebrated the completion of a $250,000 project to enhance and restore McKinley Park. The completed project includes an entrance area parking lot surfaced with porous asphalt that allows storm water to be absorbed into the ground; rain gardens to receive water from the parking lot; and accessible walkways from the street to the playground and the basketball court. The stone wall dating from the 1930s at the entrance of the park was also carefully restored to historic detail.
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Originally a piece of farmland owned by William Sheraden, this 88-acre park was set aside for public use by the City of Pittsburgh in 1914 and has been a part of the fabric of the Sheraden community ever since. Situated in a wooded valley, quietly secluded from the surrounding streets, Sheraden Park includes picnic areas, ball fields, sports courts, a swimming pool and playgrounds.
South Side Park
Nestled on all sides by neighborhood streets, South Side Park is unique in its location and topography. A hidden 64-acre gem just up the hill from the bustling Carson Street, this neighborhood park has been chronically under utilized. The park is a major focus of revitalization efforts through the South Side Slopes Neighborhood Association. More information about South Side Park's history and restoration.