From those built in the Victorian era to those built after, dozens of parks dot Pittsburgh from city limit to city limit. The most well-known, it seems, are Frick Park, Highland Park, Point State Park and Riverview Park. (Riverview Park is actually a mere four or five blocks from my church). There are many more parks – hundreds, in fact – throughout the boroughs, but those listed below are maintained by Citiparks. Now, this may be a bit of an ambitious article, but let’s take a look at this list of eight Pittsburgh city parks you should enjoy this summer.
1794 – Market Square
While Market Square is more of an urban square than an actual park, many events and activities that take place there are often managed by Citiparks. It’s a large, brick and concrete gathering place much like city squares in Europe. It hosts a winter Christmas village, spring and summer farmer’s markets, and so on. Interestingly, Market Square was once home to the Allegheny County Courthouse
Over the decades the square was remodeled and reimagined, transforming into an open-air multipurpose space in the heart of the city. Traffic through the square was eliminated in 2009 to create a more pedestrian-friendly space.source
1889 – Schenley Park
Though not as large as Frick Park, Schenley Park has still managed to make a name for itself over its 133 year (and counting) existence. Created from 300 acres originally gifted by Mary Schenley, Schenley Park hosts Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens, the Westinghouse Memorial, a half-size golf course, a sports complex, ice rink and lake. One could say that Schenley Park boasts the largest variety of activities for patrons to enjoy.
Schenley Park is less than three miles from Frick Park.
1893 – Highland Park
Highland Park, situated on the Allegheny River across from Sharpsburg, maintains its status as a quintessential “Victorian era” park. Also home to the Pittsburgh Zoo and Aquarium, “The Highland Park Reservoir made the site an attraction for leisure activity decades before the park was created.” source Victorian style gardens, playgrounds, walking loops and trails are all popular and much-used draws by those who love going out-of-doors. Over twenty groves, shelters, playgrounds and the like are updated and maintained for public use.
1894 – Riverview Park
As I mentioned earlier, Riverview Park is only a few blocks from my church on the North Side. It could be either a 48 minute walk up Davis and Brighton Road or a mere ten minute drive after services one Sunday. Okay, so maybe it’s more than a few blocks away. Still, it’s the closest one to me. They boast the Allegheny Observatory, the Chapel Shelter, a soccer field, miles of trail, and a smattering of shelters for picnics. One of the smaller parks on this list, it still offers a challenging, hilly course for walkers, runners and bikers.
1927 – Frick Park
In 1919, twenty-seven years after the Homestead Strike of 1892, Henry Clay Frick gifted land to the city in a philanthropic gesture. By 1927, the year the park officially opened, they had expanded the grounds to a whopping 306 acres, three times larger than what was originally planned. It is officially the largest Pittsburgh city park. Today the park sports bowling greens, tennis courts, miles of trails, sporting fields, and many other integrated park features.
Frick Park is also home to the now infamous Fern Hollow Bridge Collapse of 2022
1984 – Allegheny Landing Park
Within walking distance of the home of the Pirates, PNC Park, Allegheny Landing is one of the smallest of the city’s parks. Unfortunately, there isn’t much history on the park itself, and there’s barely anything online in terms of video footage. That’s why I included a video of Allegheny Riverfront instead.
Allegheny Landing was dedicated in 1984, becoming Pittsburgh’s first modern riverfront park. It also pioneered the design concept of riverfront sculpture gardens. Until this point, Pittsburgh’s riverfronts were still largely unused. The Landing was the first to push for a connection of unified riverfront parks, paths, and trails on all three rivers.source
2005 – Emerald View Park
The hill upon which Emerald View Park sits wasn’t truly developed until the 1930s, most likely due to the land’s difficult-to-work-with geography. Emerald View Park is actually a combination of several parks that were added throughout the decades. They are: Grandview Scenic Byway with Grandview, Olympia, Mount Washington, and Ream Parks. Mount Washington is nationally and internationally known, but few know of either its origins or that it’s part of a larger system. The scenic overlooks were constructed in the 1970s, and “The park’s unique shape around the hillside of Mount Washington is the result of decades of planning efforts and city acquisitions that have resulted in the preservation of the hillsides, investments in parks, and building of trails.” source One would need an entire week to explore all that Emerald View Park has to offer.
2016 – August Wilson Park
Built in an effort to reconnect the residents of the Hills to the rest of Pittsburgh, the August Wilson Park was designed to be an outdoor community center of sorts. Originally Cliffside Park, many used this natural outlook to get fabulous views of the city. Named after Pulitzer prize writer Frederick August Kittel, the new park replaced the old 1960s Cliffside has become more than just a place for children to play. The smallest of Pittsburgh’s city parks on this list, it is also the newest and the most urban.
And there you have it. Eight Pittsburgh city parks worth visiting this summer. August Wilson Park for its sense of community, Emerald View Park for its amazing views, Allegheny Landing Park for a quaint picnic, Frick Park for the history, Riverview Park for the stars and trails, Highland Park for the reservoir and zoo, Schenley Park for the activities and botanical gardens, and Market Square for a true urban living experience. Which one caught your notice? I hope to visit Highland Park more before Winter 2022!