Welcome to Mellon Square! Interested in learning more about the park? Explore the history and the present features of Mellon Square virtually.

Mellon Square Today A historic space restored to its former glory

In order to restore the historic space you’re standing in, the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy gave Mellon Square a complete makeover in 2014 with new curbs, signage, lighting, planters, benches, and trash receptacles. The $10 million project focused on the Square’s fountains and also restored the unique paving and pathways, along with expanding the space by adding a terrace overlooking Smithfield Street. The restoration project was one of ten projects in the nation to win the Docomo US Design of Excellence Award in 2016

The new design is full of features you may not have noticed. For example, did you know that the triangle shapes in the walkways are a series of “M’s” to pay homage to Mellon? The unique walkways are designed to capture the distinctive “Venetian terrazzo” paving of the original square, which was inspired by Sarah Mellon Scaife’s travels to Europe.

Can you name any of the trees or plants around you?

The garden has trees, shrubs, spring bulbs, and perennials. You might actually be sitting next to a patch of perennials right now, as their raised beds provide seating throughout the park. Look for the trees that are planted in raised granite beds–those are unique Persian Ironwoods trees. If you’re in the Square in the spring, they may have beautiful reddish-purple leaves, but in the fall, you’ll find their foliage changed to red, orange, or yellow. Around you are also evergreen trees, like Mugo pine, yews, and boxwoods. If you’re visiting during the summer, you might be catching some shade in the shade of the Linden trees. 

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Mellon Square

History of Mellon Square Decades in downtown Pittsburgh

Built in 1955 on top of a parking garage, Mellon Square is one of the country’s oldest “green roofs.” The plaza was originally built collaboratively by architectural firms Mitchell & Ritchey and Simonds and Simonds, the company who also worked on designs for Allegheny Commons, in a modernist style. The $4 million project was originally funded by Sarah Mellon Scaife, the A.W. Mellon Educational and Charitable Trust, and the Richard King Mellon Foundation. 

Mellon Square was conceived as an oasis from Pittsburgh’s urban environment: a green space in the middle of downtown with the fountain’s running water blocking out the sounds of the city. The project fit into the city’s post-war “Renaissance,” an urban renewal designed to improve the city and combat the negative environmental effects of industrialization. At the time, Pittsburgh’s economy was booming but wasn’t the most desirable place to live. During this time, smoke-control legislation was also passed and Point State Park was created. To read more about the Renaissance and the history that followed before and after, check out this article.

Interested in diving deeper into Mellon Square? Listen to a 2014 segment from Essential Pittsburgh on 90.5 WESA that discusses the history of the park by clicking here while you explore the space.

Mellon Square Fountains

Audio Tour

Want to learn even more about Mellon Square as you walk through the park? Listen to our audio tour to enhance your experience as you explore this unique space:

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Mellon Square is just one of the many parks that serve as venues for events run by the Parks Conservancy. In the summer, you might catch a Summer at the Square block party or lunchtime live music. Check out the Parks Conservancy’s events calendar to see what’s coming up!

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Make a Difference

Your Parks Matter

Parks thrive when they have sun, soil, rain…and you. You ensure programs are offered, trees are planted, capital projects are funded, flowers are tended to, research is pursued. There is nothing the parks can’t do with you behind them.