In 2014 Pittsburgh saw the beautifully-realized restoration of one park, the start of a project that will be one of the most ecologically sound buildings on earth, and the boundless enthusiasm of an unparalleled volunteer force that gave a record-breaking amount of hours to making our public green space among the best in the country. The Pittsburgh Parks
Conservancy and their staff of experts in the fields of education, engineering, forestry, horticultural, and parks management, their amazing volunteers, and dedicated partners worked tirelessly for our city’s parks in 2014. As the year comes to a close, we offer this list of the amazing, generous, fun, and inspiring Pittsburgh Park Numbers of 2014.
1. 1,768 is the number of acres of park land that the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy and their staff of experts cared for in partnership with the City of Pittsburgh in 2014. From Frick Park’s 644 acres to Cliffside Park’s 1.1 acres, the Parks Conservancy has dedicated park projects in green spaces of all sizes. New and continuing projects in 2015 will include the Schenley Drive Green Street and Panther Hollow Watershed green infrastructure projects (Schenley Park), public input and planning for Arsenal and Leslie Parks in Lawrenceville, continued construction on the Frick Environmental Center (Frick Park), and fundraising for the Allegheny Commons Fountain (Allegheny Commons Park).
2. 6,500 is the astounding number of hours that Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy volunteers gave to our parks in 2014. And they are fearless, too. From building tree guards to protect new saplings in Frick Park, clearing invasive vines on slopes in Riverview Park, planting bulbs in Highland Park, or building trails in Schenley Park, volunteers of all ages gave the equivalent of the time it would take to watch every one of the Harry Potter movies 331 times. That’s magic. And even in cold, snowy weather there are volunteer opportunities for individuals, classes, or groups that will help keep our parks in world-class shape through every season.
3. 24,000 hours of Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy work went in to the restoration of Mellon Square leading up to its May grand re-opening . And it paid off: in addition to the outpouring of public love, Mellon Square is putting Pittsburgh on the national green space map, making the list of Cultural Landscape Foundation’s top ten Most Notable Developments in Landscape Architecture of 2014. Mellon Square’s unique history – including stunning Mad-men era photos–was captured in the well-reviewed book Mellon Square: Discovering a Modernist Masterpiece by Parks Curator Susan Rademacher and published by Princeton Architectural Press.
4. 400 lights were installed in Mellon Square as part of the restoration, lighting the central and cascading fountains and diamond-shaped terrazzo walkways. One of the carefully-considered details of the restoration of an urban park, the lighting makes a nighttime stroll through Mellon Square with its gorgeously-lit fountains one of the city’s most romantic and flat-out beautiful experiences. The Urban Land Institute agreed, honoring Mellon Square with its 2014 Placemaking Award for Visual Place.
5. 379 trees planted in by Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy volunteers and staff horticulturalists in 2014. That’s an average of one tree per day, plus an additional 14 trees planted by park supporters in honor of their loved ones. One prescient parks supporter worked with Parks Conservancy staff to plant 10 gorgeous cherry trees around the Highland Park reservoir so that her granddaughter “will have amazing park memories of the beauty of cherry blossoms in the spring like I do from when I was a child in Highland Park.”
6. 9 years’ worth of trash was cleared by our city’s amazing Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy volunteers. Assuming that the average person is responsible for putting out one bag of garbage every week for a year on trash day, nearly nine years’ worth of one person’s trash was removed from our parks. You hauled over 450 bags of trash bags full of glass, plastic, and objects that ranged from the everyday (spoons and forks) to the peculiar (we’re talking about you, kitchen sink) from playgrounds, hillsides, and throughout the parks.
7. 270 garbage bags of garlic mustard removed by Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy volunteers in 2014. And that doesn’t include the countless bags of other invasive plants that were carefully removed so that native plants and trees can thrive. Mugwort, Japanese knotweed, devil’s walking stick, and jetbead are just a few of the exotic sounding but dangerous invasive pants that were sought out and removed by the bagful, allowing the natural beauty of our region’s native plants shine through.
8. 18,138 annuals and bulbs planted by Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy horticulturalists and volunteers in our parks in 2014. That’s tens of thousands of colorful blooms that bring beauty to our city throughout the year. And that beauty is noticed both locally and nationally, with Schenley Plaza’s carefully cultivated gardens being named as an official All-America Selections garden.
9. 1 is the number of the greenest buildings on earth on which construction started in our parks in 2014. The Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy, in partnership with the City of Pittsburgh, broke ground and started the first phase of construction of the new Frick Environmental Center at Frick Park. Hundreds of construction items have been vetted so far in the project, ensuring that the new Frick Environmental Center will meet stringent requirements for Living Building Challenge and LEEDS Platinum certification. Watch this amazing building continue to come to life in 2015, giving Pittsburgh one of the country’s leading environmental education facilities.