Carnegie Museums and Library
The Carnegie Museum of Art, the Carnegie Museum of Natural History and the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh - all named after industrialist and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie- sit in the heart of Oakland at the northern edge of Schenley Park. The Carnegie Museum of Art is internationally recognized for its distinguished collection of American and European works from the 16th century to the present. The Museum of Natural History, known as the "home of the dinosaur" to many, is a hands-on, interactive place of discovery. The Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh houses more than 6 million items, including books, videos, CD-ROMs and DVDs. For more information on the art museum, call 412-622-3131 or visit the website at www.cmoa.org . For information about the Natural History Museum, call 412-622-3131 or visit the website. For the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, call 412-622-3114 or visit the website.
Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens is one of the largest botanical conservatories in the country. Opened in 1893, Phipps Conservatory was a gift to the City of Pittsburgh from industrialist and philanthropist Henry Phipps. The stunning "crystal palace" is a Victorian glasshouse designed by renowned architectural firm Lord and Burnham and renovated in 2004-2005. The Tropical Forest is the most energy-efficient conservatory in the world.
Phipps Conservatory features lush tropical plants, palms, orchids, ferns and butterflies, and is one of the few conservatories that still holds seasonal flower shows every year. Educational classes, interactive exhibits, a 2.5-acre outdoor garden, a gift shop, and Café Phipps draw nature lovers of all ages. Call 412-622-6914 or visit www.phipps.conservatory.org.
Schenley Park Café and Visitor Center
Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy completed the restoration of the Schenley Park Café and Visitor Center in 2001. Over a hundred years old, the Visitor Center is one of the few remaining buildings from the park's original creation. It was used as a tool shed, home of the Pittsburgh Civic Garden Center, and a nature museum with snakes of all sizes. The building fell into disrepair in the 1980s and was boarded up until 2001. PPC restored the historic building’s masonry, windows, and roof. The interior was redesigned to house a café and gift shop. Many of the materials used in the restoration were salvaged from the original building and a majority of the new materials were supplied by local vendors. The Visitor Center also has many state-of-the-art green features, such as a natural ventilation and light system to minimize energy consumption. The sinks in the café and restrooms are low-flow, the toilets have low water usage fixtures, and the café uses recycled paper products and environmentally-friendly cleaning products.
Flagstaff Hill, adjacent to Carnegie Mellon University, is a popular gathering place for Pittsburgh park goers who love to watch a movie under the stars, listen to a concert, study or sunbathe. For a schedule of movies and concerts, visit the Citiparks website at www.city.pittsburgh.pa.us/parks.
Neill Log House and Martin's Cabin
The Neill Log House, located on Serpentine Drive in the Bob O'Connor Golf Course, is one of the oldest buildings in Pittsburgh. Built between 1769 and the mid-1770s, it once belonged to the family of Robert Neill, and later to Col. James O'Hara and his granddaughter Mary Schenley. In recent years, the house has served as a picnic pavilion, an equipment storage shed and a rest area for golfers. Restoration efforts by the Pittsburgh History and Landmarks Foundation and the Junior League furnished the house with artifacts in keeping with a settler's rugged life. Martin's Cabin on Overlook Drive is another log structure from the same period. Both of these cabins are currently out of use.
Panther Hollow Valley
The 80-acre Panther Hollow Valley provides Pittsburghers with a woodland retreat minutes from busy Oakland. The valley contains the Panther Hollow and Phipps Run streams, which empty into Panther Hollow Lake. The lake, which was dug in 1909 to create a recreational amenity, formerly welcomed fishing and boating with its charming boathouse. Now, the lake has silted to only a third of its original depth, and its ecological condition is poor. Erosion has distorted the lake's original shape, and its bacteria levels are above recommended standards.
The Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy has been working in the Panther Hollow Valley for several years, undertaking ecological restoration projects that will eventually reach the centerpiece--Panther Hollow Lake. Because of Schenley Park's steep topography, restoration work must start at the top and work its way down. To that end, hundreds of trees have been planted in the canopy gaps, and work has been done to stabilize the hillsides and reduce erosion. Urban EcoStewards have adopted many of the areas in the valley, removing invasive plants and monitoring the progress of natives. University partners have been monitoring the water quality of the streams and the lake to determine where the harmful bacteria is coming from and how to prevent it from reaching the lake. Ultimately, when the valley's ecological condition has improved enough to make the lake fishable again, and when access to the site can be improved, the Parks Conservancy plans to rehabilitate the lake and rebuild the boathouse.
The Phipps Run stream corridor marks the high point of the Panther Hollow Valley, and provides access from the Schenley Park Café and Visitor Center to Panther Hollow Lake. Both the trail and stream were restored by the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy and the City of Pittsburgh's Department of Public Works in 2003.
Phipps Run features some of Schenley Park's most interesting bridges. The "tufa bridges," built in 1908, are actually made of reinforced concrete that was covered in tufa. Tufa is a porous calcium carbonate formed as mineral deposits pile up below the surface of water (in this case a body of water in Ohio). Look closely at the tufa bridges and you will see some interesting things growing there!
Schenley Park has benefited greatly from the installation of several meadows--among them one adjacent to the swimming pool, one beside the Bartlett Playground, and another along the Panther Hollow Trail heading toward the lake. All of these areas were previously used as lawns, which meant they had to be mowed regularly and that they were prone to flooding. The Panther Hollow meadow was also used as an equipment storage space. Today, all three of these locations burst with native wildflowers in the spring and summer, but their beauty is only one of their many benefits. Among the services these meadows provide are:
- Increased storm water infiltration (because the roots of the wildflowers reach so much deeper into the soil than the roots of grass)
- Reduced washing out of trails
- Increased habitat for birds, insects, and other wildlife
- Reduced maintenance load
- Increased biological diversity in the parks
The Westinghouse Memorial is an elaborate sculpture facing a small pond and fountain near the entrance to the Steve Faloon Trail. The memorial, honoring inventor and industrialist George Westinghouse, was financed by small contributions from almost 55,000 employees of the Westinghouse Corporation around the world. It was dedicated in 1930 before a crowd of thousands, and the ceremony aired on KDKA as well as radio stations in Boston and Chicago. President Herbert Hoover sent a letter expressing America’s gratitude for Westinghouse’s inventions and industrial advancements.
Architects Henry Hornbostel and Eric Fisherwood designed the monument and the surrounding landscape, including the pond, trees, and location of black granite benches. They chose sculptor Daniel Chester French to design the sculptures, including the bronze “American Youth,” a young man taking inspiration from Westinghouse, which was described by art critics as “the finest portrayal of American boyhood.” The middle portion of the monument depicts Westinghouse between a mechanic and an engineer, with the surrounding panels (created by sculptor Paul Fjelde) illustrating Westinghouse’s achievements.
Learn more about what you can do to help in the restoration of the Westinghouse Memorial.