A Place in History: Sheraden Park Turns 100

January 24, 2014 by Lauryn Stalter

The world was a different place before the year 1914.

Before 1914, Babe Ruth didn't wear a Major League baseball uniform. Stainless steel wasn't a household item. George Westinghouse and Joe DiMaggio were both still alive. The assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, the Austrian-Hungarian ultimatum to Serbia, and the First World War had all yet to happen.

Whether big or small, it is always interesting to look back on the people and events that changed our own personal history. While landmark events such as World War I affected everyone living during that time, the lives of ordinary Pittsburghers were also changing, shaping our current history.

Pennsylvania College for Women suffragette float circa 1914. Photo courtesy University of Pittsburgh Digital Archives.

Even in 1914, our city was full of personality and vivacity. It was rounding the corner on its 100th birthday as suffragettes were parading for equality. Heinz Spaghetti was good and Andrew Carnegie was singing "Auld Lang Syne" to a crowd of library lovers. And a new greenspace just west of the confluence of the Allegheny and Monongahela Rivers -- Sheraden Park -- was just opening to the good residents of Pittsburgh.

Sheraden Park had some rather humble beginnings. Originally part of William Sheraden's farm, the 23-acre greenspace was set aside for public use by the City of Pittsburgh on January 24, 1914, seven years after Sheraden was annexed as a part of the city. The cost of this new park? A whopping $14,500. Pittsburghers could take the 31 or 32 trolley to enjoy a public swimming pool, playground, and beautiful place to escape the grey grit of the city.

Sheraden Park, circa 1934. Photo courtesy Archives Service Center at the University of Pittsburgh.
Sheraden Park Pool, circa 1934. Photo courtesy Archives Service Center at the University of Pittsburgh.

One hundred years later, we're still celebrating this wonderful greenspace that has been free to all Pittsburghers for so long. Stories and pictures can help us to remember what happened a century ago, but it's a very special thing to be able to step out the door to visit this century-old park that has been through so much.

mapIf you haven't been, make your first visit to this 51-acre park when the weather starts to warm. Finding Sheraden Park is a bit like discovering it for the first time, as the main entrance on Stafford Avenue can be hard to spot. Almost the size of Allegheny Commons, the park sits in a wooded, secluded valley. Enjoy a day at the open picnic areas, ball fields, sports courts, swimming pool and playgrounds. Anything that has lasted 100 years will start to show some wrinkles and wear; check out features of the park that give it character and reveal its historical heritage, such as old stonework and ancient trees (some of which the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy successfully saved from oak wilt).

If you have a special memory from Sheraden Park, we'd love to hear from you! Send your stories, pictures and/or video to media@pittsburghparks.org. Your memories could be featured in part two of our blog spotlight of Sheraden Park. And be sure to stay tuned for more information on the big celebration of the park in August with the residents of Sheraden.

What else happened in 1914? Sheraden Park shared its birthday with William S. Burroughs and Harry Caray; the Pirates' own Honus Wagner became the first baseball player in the 20th century to accomplish 3,000 career hits; and the Ford Motor Company announced the eight-hour workday and $5-a-day wage.

Parks History, Photography, Neighborhood and Community Parks