By Brady Collins | Contributor
Pittsburgh’s Schenley Park and surrounding areas offer a variety of ways to enjoy the late-spring weather. The park skirts the vibrant, nearby neighborhoods of Squirrel Hill and Oakland, offering a refuge of greenery for city-dwellers. As many know, Schenley boasts extensive trails for walking and biking, a golf course, Phipps Conservatory and a public swimming pool. However, Schenley has many attractions that are anything but typical.
Schenley Plaza is situated in the heart of Oakland, and is open daily from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. The area includes free WiFi, and there are several diverse, fast-dining options directly adjacent to the lawn. These options include Waffalonia, Asia Tea House, Opa Gyro and Conflict Kitchen, which is currently serving Palestinian fare.
Also included within Schenley Plaza is the PNC Carousel. Most Pittsburgh city parks previously included carousels on the grounds (the original carousel in Schenley was built in 1913), and the PNC Carousel revives that attraction with Victorian-style craftsmanship and pipe organ music. There are a wide variety of animals meant to represent the vibrancy and diversity of Pittsburgh. The opening of the carousel has been postponed until further notice via their website. However, the park plans on adding days in the fall to account for days missed in the spring season.
The Meadow and The Oval
While Schenley Plaza does not allow sports of any kind, The Meadow and The Oval, located along Overlook Drive, offer outlets for activities including a tennis court, soccer field, softball field, disc golf course and a large open lawn.
The Meadow is also an ideal spot for a picnic. The expansive lawn stretches over a large hill. On the horizon, you can see a panoramic view of Pittsburgh. Scanning from left to right, you can clearly make out the neighborhoods of Mount Oliver, Southside, Allentown, Mount Washington, Downtown and Oakland.
Quintessential to Pittsburgh, the park includes bridges. Both Schenley Bridge and Panther Hollow Bridge are worth experiencing on foot. Schenley Bridge connects Oakland with the majority of the park’s grounds. Schenley Bridge’s fence is brimming with Love Locks, a French tradition that invites those in love to express their connection by adding a lock to the bridge.
The Panther Hollow Bridge carries vehicles and pedestrians over Panther Hollow Lake. Framing the four corners of the bridge are imposing, bronze panther statues. Artist Giuseppe Moretti sculpted these statues before the turn of the 20th century.
Behind Schenley Plaza toward the entrance of the park is the Mary Schenley Memorial Fountain. Mary Schenley was a major philanthropist throughout her life, and in 1889 donated much of the land that was to be conserved for the park. Visitors often sit around its basin to admire the fountain, which includes large bronze statues of the Greek God Pan and a woman playing a lyre. The memorial is also called “A Song To Nature.”
George Westinghouse, engineer and Civil War Veteran, is memorialized in Schenley as well. The stunning memorial is located along Schenley Drive. When George Westinghouse died in 1914, nearly 60,000 workers contributed to a fund to erect this memorial. Stone walkways border a lily pond and lead back to a bronze statue of a young boy gazing upon George Westinghouse and his inventions. The memorial represents the inspiration he is to future generations.
Not only is Schenley Park a nature conservancy, offering usual park amenities, but it also offers unexpected historical and cultural charm worth exploring.