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.
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.
The Arsenal and Leslie Parks Master Plan was completed in 2016. 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 78.5-acre community park is a gathering place for the neighborhoods of Beltzhoover, Knoxville, Bon Air and Allentown. McKinley Park, which historians have said 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 an activities center.
McKinley Park has been a public asset since the 1870s, when citizens of Beltzhoover gathered for picnics and played in the stream valley. In its heyday, the park featured a handsome bandstand and shelter house, groomed trails, and its own park ranger. But by the beginning of the 21st century, much of this had been lost. Residents sought to revive the park by focusing initially on an entrance project.
With the aid of local government, state, and private funding, the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy completed a $250,000 project to reconnect the community with the park by building accessible pathways from the street to the activities building, playground, and basketball court, restoring the historic stone wall and steps, constructing a porous asphalt parking lot with rain gardens, lighting, and seating. The community celebrated the project’s completion on July 12, 2013, with the Parks Conservancy, the City of Pittsburgh, Representative Jake Wheatley, City Council members Bruce Kraus, Daniel Lavelle, and Natalia Rudiak.
2016 saw the completion of a master plan, led by the Parks Conservancy in partnership with the community and the City of Pittsburgh. The plan, produced by Pfaffmann + Associates, Andropogon Associates, and Meliora Design, set forth a vision which connects the park to the larger community through the Haberman Corridor, and through its contribution to stormwater management goals of the Saw Mill Run Watershed.
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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.