Stories of Allegheny Commons
Christina Schmidlapp

I remember walking from my house on Cedar Ave. across East Common to work at the Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation, which was in the Old Post Office in the early 1980s. There was a gigantic elm tree at that time that stood in the park along Cedar Ave. opposite Suismon St., one of the park's biggest.
When we bought a puppy (from the pet store in Allegheny Center), we walked it in East Common, along with Rusty, a shepherd-collie mix my husband found on the post office steps. (Years afterwards, we would see dogs resembling Rusty around the Northside; I think he had many local siblings.)
When our daughter was born, we walked both dogs on leashes and pushed a stroller; this required two of us--nice family-time. At night, East Common was dark then, and the lights of downtown were especially dramatic on brisk winter nights when the trees were bare, and we would return to our lighted rowhouse (warmed by its neighbors) through the dark park.
The playground at Martin Luther King School and the outdoor bird cages at the Aviary were the major attractions for our daughter and her younger sister as they grew up across from the Commons, along with the (climb-able) flowering trees and the old firetruck between the Aviary and the Greek Church. The park was our green connection between our house, the library and Allegheny Center, and our playgroup friends in the Mexican War Streets and Allegheny Center. It was fun for the girls to be able to toddle, pedal, walk and run through the park to the places where we were headed. We often went to the park as a group, sometimes on the way to or from the Children's Museum, Aviary or library. (I remember once, one of the toddlers got his head stuck in the iron railing while watching a train go by, and I had a hard time yanking it out!) The playground near the Iron Deer became our main destination when we moved across the park to Beech Ave. My husband has a picture of our three children "riding" the deer on his office desk. It was great to be so much closer to the farmers' market, which was held in the big parking lot beside Foster Square then.
Though we moved to Oakland in 2000, our children remember their time growing up around the Commons with great fondness. I hope when they have their own children, they will be able to take them to a special outdoor place. It will be hard to find one as interesting, beautiful and versatile as Allegheny Commons.

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Martin Eibeck  read

Marilyn Detwiler  read

Christina Schmidlapp  read

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