The History of Allegheny Commons
Pittsburgh's oldest park, Allegheny Commons, dates to 1867 when it was designed to provide "breathing places" for the citizens of what was then the sooty city of Allegheny. The name derives from its previous use as public grazing land, or "common." The creation of the park reflected the 19th century movement to beautify American cities and improve urban living conditions. Well-known predecessors were New York's Central Park and Philadelphia's Fairmount Park.
The New York firm of Mitchell & Grant designed the plan for Allegheny Commons, which included lawns and tree-lined paths, fountains and benches, a picturesque lake, monuments, and ornamental flowerbeds. It took eight years to execute and incorporated over forty varieties of trees, thirty varieties of shrubs, and tens of thousands of bulbs.
The park's original designs are still visible in many areas, while other areas have evolved and changed along with the community it serves. Monuments have come, gone and returned. Lake Elizabeth has changed in its scale, design and use. Newly planted trees grow next to those planted more than 100 years ago. The park's continuum is sure to serve for generations to come.