Highland Park Entry Garden and Fountain
At the turn of the 20th Century, a grand Victorian entryway greeted visitors with glorious bronze sculptures by Giuseppe Moretti, clustered Ionic columns, a fountain, reflecting pool, and elaborate formal gardens. Over the years the garden deteriorated and lost many of the magnificent qualities that Edward Bigelow had envisioned for it. In the 1970s, the reflecting pool was filled in, the fountain removed after years of running dry, the walkway reconfigured in asphalt, and trees planted in the original path.
The Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy and the Highland Park community sought to return this jewel of landscape design to the people of Pittsburgh. Restoration work began in 2003. It included tree and soil removal and replacement, reconstruction of the stone pool border, fountain replacement, renewal of plantings and flower beds, installation of new lighting and benches, and walkway restoration. In 2005, the restoration was completed, returning the space to the neighborhood treasure it was meant to be.
The gardens have since been accented with four 4-foot-tall metal urns donated by Roy and Susie Dorrance in memory of Susie’s mother, Mrs. Emma O. Sharp. The urns recall a feature of the entry garden that is visible in historic photos and postcards and feature seasonal plantings.
The final phase of the entry garden restoration project will be the installation of decorative trellises, on which vining plants can grow. If you’re interested in contributing funding to this project, please contact the Parks Conservancy at 412-682-7275.
The Babbling Brook is a relatively new park feature that was created out of the desire to keep Reservoir No. 1 from being covered with a plastic sheath. When the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority agreed to build a state-of-the-art microfiltration plant to clean the water from the reservoir, the waste water from this process needed to be cleaned and transported from the plant to Lake Carnegie. The waste water contains chlorinated water, algae, and other small particles removed from the drinking water at the PWSA plant. Prohibited from using its funding for aesthetic improvements, PWSA planned to use a concrete chute, but the Parks Conservancy raised funds to create the Babbling Brook instead. As the water from the plant travels over rocks and boulders, it is naturally aerated and cleaned. A footbridge and an observation deck were added, and a scenic trail now leads from the reservoir loop down to the swimming pool, volleyball courts, and Lake Carnegie.
A partnership between the City of Pittsburgh and the Parks Conservancy has accomplished a major transformation along Washington Boulevard. The seasonal pools, constructed in 2006, have turned a flooded lawn into a wetland habitat. The water flow from the adjacent hillside has been redirected under a new bicycle and walking trail, creating a well and meadow that naturally infiltrate storm water and add naturalistic beauty to the area. The meadow has been sown with dry and wet seed mixes that attract a variety of wildlife – from water birds to turkeys, raccoons, coyotes, and bats. As a result, the area now has more animal and plant biodiversity and requires much less maintenance than the often-flooded lawn.
The new bicycle trail is one link in a city-wide trail loop for pedestrians and bikers. The new trail runs along Washington Boulevard into East Liberty.