Frick Environmental Center
Frick Park has a long tradition of nature education. The current Frick Environmental Center began offering environmental education programs in1979, and has since hosted thousands of area children for field lessons, nature hikes, and summer camps. With special programs for Earth Day, Arbor Day, Halloween, and other occasions, the Environmental Center is a true community resource. Its mission, Education through Restoration, connects people to nature and allows them to have a personal stake in their park.
The Center's main building burned in 2002, but year-round programs for the public are still available, including workshops on birding, composting, weed identification, and nature photography. The Center’s staff is also working on outreach programs that will bring environmental education into local schools. Click here or call 412-422-6538 for more information on the center's programs.
The Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy is working with the City of Pittsburgh and the local community to develop a new Environmental Center at Frick Park. Over the past several years, project partners have held numerous public meetings to learn what the community wants from the new Center. A business plan has been produced, and landscape design and educational programming plans are underway. For more information on this project, call the Parks Conservancy at 412-682-7275 or the Frick Environmental Center at 412-422-6538.
Frick Art & Historical Center
Learn more about industrialist and art collector Henry Clay Frick and his family's passion for parks at the Frick Art & Historical Center, one of Pittsburgh's top cultural attractions, opposite the Reynolds Street entrance to Frick Park. The Center includes museums and historical buildings on more than five acres of elegant lawns and gardens. Each year, more than 100,000 visitors visit the Center, which contains the restored Frick family home, Clayton, the Frick Art Museum, the Car and Carriage Museum, the Greenhouse, the Visitors' Center, and the Café at the Frick. Tours and educational programs are offered year-round. Call 412-371-0600 or visit the website at www.thefrickpittsburgh.org.
Frick Park’s distinctive stone gatehouses share something with the Jefferson Memorial: they were both designed by the famed architect John Russell Pope. Between 1931 and 1935, Pope was converting Henry Clay Frick’s Fifth Avenue home in New York City to The Frick Collection, and presumably was contracted by the Frick family to design some structures for the park. There are four gatehouse entrances: two on Beechwood Boulevard near the present-day Environmental Center, a smaller structure at the end of the Fern Hollow Bridge on Forbes Avenue, and one on Reynolds Street which was restored by the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy in 2000. Another entrance structure, a simple cairn at the intersection of Forbes Avenue and Beechwood Boulevard, was also designed by Pope.
The Reynolds Street gatehouse was the first showcase project completed by the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy. The restoration project included restoring the original mixed-clay tile roof, re-pointing stonework, and rebuilding portions of the wall. At long last, the original landscape plan by Innocenti and Webel became a reality, bringing more than 50 pin oak, hawthorne, and lacebark pine trees into the surrounding area along with planting beds that now bloom with daffodils in springtime.
Frick Woods Nature Reserve
The 151 acres that Henry Clay Frick bequeathed to the City in his will were rededicated as the Frick Woods Nature Reserve on Earth Day 1991. Frick’s wish that the people of Pittsburgh have an undeveloped wildlife area to enjoy has been realized in this core of the park, which is filled with native plants and provides an extensive wildlife habitat. Pittsburgh residents can enjoy the nature reserve on its network of trails or participate in workshops and stewardship projects conducted by the Frick Environmental Center.
Nine Mile Run Watershed
Nine Mile Run is a small stream that owes its name to its distance from Pittsburgh’s Point. It flows above ground for 2.2 miles from Frick Park just off Braddock Avenue to the Monongahela River. The stream had a poor reputation among Pittsburghers for many years due to its connection to the city’s antiquated combined sewer overflow system. The stream often takes on a strong odor following a rain, the result of too much water flowing into the sewers and sending pollutants into the stream. This situation was improved dramatically by the 2006 aquatic ecosystem restoration, a project of the Army Corps of Engineers that created new stream channels and repopulated the area with native plants.
The renowned landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted Jr. saw the potential of the Nine Mile Run stream valley as a park amenity in 1911, when he called the stream valley “perhaps the most striking opportunity noted for a large park.” But despite the area’s residential zoning, the Duquesne Slag Company began buying land on the banks of the stream to dispose of slag, which is a waste product generated by the production of steel. Over the next 50 years, an estimated 200 million tons of slag were dumped in the Nine Mile Run Valley. In the mid-1990s, project partners began work on a 700+ unit sustainable residential development called Summerset at Frick Park to be built atop the slag heap. Part of the project involved adding 106 acres to Frick Park, which officially made it Pittsburgh’s largest park.
The Nine Mile Run Watershed Association works to restore and protect the watershed, including efforts to provide rain barrels to homes in the watershed so that less water finds its way into the combined sewer system. For more information on Nine Mile Run and how you can help improve its water quality, visit www.ninemilerun.org.