Point State Park: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Point State Park's unique historic, natural, and recreational features blend to provide a respite from the stresses of urban life. The area's rich history dates back to the 1700s, when it played an important role in the French and Indian War and the development of English colonies.
Located at the tip of Pittsburgh's Golden Triangle from the centerline of Commonwealth Place, west to the confluence of the Allegheny, Monongahela, and Ohio Rivers.
In more recent times, the park was integral to the rebirth of Pittsburgh's downtown from the 1950s through the 1970s. Point State Park was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1975 and is listed on the National Historic Register of Historic Places as part of the Pittsburgh Renaissance District.
Point State Park was born out of the Pittsburgh Renaissance, an urban renewal project in the 1950s that cleared a former blighted industrial area for the 36-acre park that was completed and dedicated in 1974.
One of the park's iconic features is the Point Fountain. Located at the headwaters of the Ohio River, it sprays water 150 feet into the air. Additional park amenities include the Great Lawn, which houses the location of the French Fort Duquesne; a pedestrian bridge spanning a reflecting pool; museum; river access; and 54,000 native plants. The park hosts a variety of annual events including the "Three Rivers Arts Festival," which draws nearly 750,000 visitors to the city. Approximately 2.5 million people visit the park annually, creating millions of dollars of economic impact for the city.
Defining Characteristics, Features
- French forces captured Fort Prince George, which had been constructed by colonial Virginians; built Fort Duquesne at present day Point State Park (1754)
- French burned the fort ahead of a force of 6,000 British troops marching for an assault on the fort (1758)
- British built Fort Pitt; most extensive fortification by the British in North America (1759)
- The fort was sold in 1772 and then used by the Continental Army as its western headquarters (1777)
- Deteriorating Fort Pitt was abandoned, marking the beginning of the development of Pittsburgh (1792)
Development and Redevelopment
- Businessman Richard K. Mellon, Mayor David Lawrence, and the Allegheny Conference were instrumental as driving forces behind the renaissance of Pittsburgh and the creation of Point State Park
- Architects Charles Stotz and Ralph Griswold began designing the park in 1945 and worked throughout the 1950s through the demolition of a blighted neighborhood until the completion of the park in 1974
- Through a grassroots public participation process, the community began to develop a master plan to revitalize the aging appearance of the park (1999)
- Point State Park Comprehensive Master Plan (1999-2003)
- Master plan was implemented through the Point State Park Capital Renovation Project (2006-2013)
Design and Features
- The tip of Point State Park features an 800,000-gallon fountain that sprays water 150 feet into the air
- Woodlands and Overlook areas are home to 54,000 native plants that have inhabited the park since the mid-18th century
- Fort Pitt Museum tells the story of western Pennsylvania's pivotal role during the French and Indian War, the American Revolution, and the birth of Pittsburgh
- The Fort Pitt Block House (1764), a small defensive stronghold redoubt, is the only surviving structure of Fort Pitt; the only authentic pre-Revolutionary War structure west of the Allegheny Mountains
- Three granite traceries are present in the park, marking the former Fort Duquesne (1754) and Fort Pitt (1759) and outlining the original confluence of the three rivers and the point
- Great Lawn, a large green space that features views of the three rivers, fountain, and downtown Pittsburgh
- The Portal Bridge connects the city side of the park to the park's river side, allowing pedestrians to cross underneath the eight-lane interstate; arches over a reflecting pool representing the transition from city to park
- The park hosts many of the city's signature events such as "Three Rivers Arts Festival," "Three Rivers Regatta," and "Pittsburgh's Great Race and Marathon"
- Community gathering place for many events and celebrations, including the Fourth of July and local sports teams' championships
- Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources provides free environmental education and recreational programs for visitors