effort to create a Civic Center in Oakland can be traced to Schenley
Park. In 1889 the acreage that now forms the park was "rescued"
for the citizens of Pittsburgh by E. M. Bigelow. His agent persuaded
Mary Schenley to donate 300 acres to the city for a park project.
Bigelow's romantic dream became a reality and today includes 456
acres: a project public golf course, swimming pool, playgrounds,
good place to begin our walking tour of Oakland is in Schenley Park,
at the upper end of Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens (1893).
1. Hall of Botany
on Schenley Drive, near the Hall of Botany, in order to take
a closer look at this small gem of a building. The orange brick
structure is a contrast to the low black "soot covered"
wall beside the terrace. This "black" color was once the
surface of most of the buildings in Pittsburgh. Foreign tourists
even asked the location of the quarry for this "black"
stone. Locate the stained glass "flower" details and find
two dates as decorations (1901 and MCMI).
2. Sculpture near the Hall of Botany
the pools and rose garden while you discover the various figures
who silently stand guard: Neptune has beautiful topiary forms
above the water of his pool in the summer months; Hygeia by Moretti honors individuals who served in the 1914-18 War. Moretti
also did the remarkable panthers who stand at the ends of Panther
Hollow Bridge. In the 1700s panthers (mountain lions) actually
lived in western Pennsylvania (along with buffalo and elk)!
figure of Robert Burns by J.M. Rhind is a reminder of all
the poetry loved by Andrew Carnegie and his countrymen from Scotland.
"To A Mouse" and "Tam O'Shanter" are among the
poems named on the base of the statue.
3. Phipps Conservatory *
past the elaborate "lace-like" entrance to Phipps Conservatory (Lord & Burnham, architects). Try to imagine the impact this
fanciful glass and iron structure had on the City of Smoke and Steel
when it opened in 1893. Some of the beautiful and delicate plants
were shown first at the Columbian Exposition in Chicago and then
brought directly to Pittsburgh. The building is in a style called
"Beaux Arts" (pronounced "Boze-Arts") and has
many wonderful details. The original front entrance to Phipps has
been lost, but the current façade repeats the white circle
design motif of the main building's glass structure. It is possible
to visit the gift shop to browse, without buying an admission ticket.
4. Flagstaff Hill and Phipps Outdoor Garden
you walk down Schenley Drive look over the expanse of lawn, Flagstaff
Hill, the city's best location to fly a kite on any windy, spring
day. Admire the winding curve of a wide boulevard lined with graceful
trees (oak, maple, sycamore and ginkgo).
the Phipps Outdoor Garden -- in summer weddings, musical
events and other functions take place here. Note the oak tree in
honor of Mr. Sestili of Sestili Nursery Co.
5. Statue of Christopher Columbus
the path down the hill and you will arrive at the masterful figure
of the explorer, Christopher Columbus, by the Pittsburgh
sculptor, Frank Vittor. Look carefully at the three ships and discover
the motif of "CC" on one boat. One "C" is backwards.
For many years a parade of enthusiastic Columbussons gathered
here on October 12, Columbus' birthday.
6. Schenley Bridge
across the Schenley Bridge, looking over the vast Junction
Ravine (150' deep) and all the houses clinging to the hillsides.
Visible in the ravine (on the eastside of the bridge) is the impressive Carnegie Institute (Bellefield) Boiler Plant that provides
steam heat (and at one time electricity) to the Institute
and other nearby facilities. Coal is still delivered by railroad
to the plant entrance. You will pass by a statue of a Soldier
from the War with Spain, 1895-1902. The names of countries where
the men fought are inscribed: Puerto Rico, Cuba, China and the Philippines.
7. Henry Clay Frick Fine Arts Building *
into the side entrance of the Henry Clay Frick Fine Arts Building (B. K. Johnston Associates, 1965). If time permits, discover the
cool and calming effect of a lovely Italian Renaissance villa's
cloister courtyard and garden. The frescoes, sculpture, paintings
and architectural detail of this building provide a rich stimulus
for the study of studio art, art history and architecture that goes
on here. The parts of the building function as: library, offices,
classrooms and on the lower level, art studios. Walk out the front
entrance and down the gracefully curving steps.
8. Schenley Plaza and Mary Schenley Fountain (1918).
might seem far-fetched, but you are actually standing on a bridge!
Buried beneath this fountain is a stone bridge that crossed St.
Pierre's Ravine (1898). The City Planning Commission in 1915
buried the bridge with dirt taken from the "hump" of Grant's
Hills (to lower Grant Street in downtown Pittsburgh).
a "terminus" for Bigelow Boulevard, the Schenley Fountain is a fanciful tribute to "A Song To Nature", lyrical figures
depicted by a sculptor, V. Brenner, designer of the Lincoln penny.
Mary Schenley was only a teenager when she eloped with Captain Schenley
but she never forgot her home city. The lovely fountain is a lasting
who recall the famed baseball park, Forbes Field, will want
to retrace the brick outline of the field's wall (set into the sidewalk)
in front of the University of Pittsburgh's Posvar Hall (formerly Forbes Quadrangle).
to Forbes Avenue>>>