Point State Park

By: Amanda Cooney

Lately I have found myself searching for things to do around Pittsburgh that are free or relatively inexpensive. A lot of times I will have out-of-town guests and there is really only so much you can do before you find yourself with an empty wallet. One thing that I know that I seem to forget about is Pittsburgh’s parks. The most livable city has an overwhelming number of parks and various activities in each of them. Get ready because I am going to go Leslie Knope on your asses for the next few installments of our Neighborhood Series.

If you only visit one park while you visit Pittsburgh, it has to be Point State Park. From the iconic fountain where the three rivers meet to the Fort Pitt Museum and Block House, Point State Park has just what you need to get the feel of the Burgh.

Point State Park has a rich history. When traveling with the French in 1753, George Washington – then a Lieutenant and not yet the first president – had this to say about the land where the three rivers meet:

As I got down before the canoe, I spent some time in viewing the rivers, and in the fork; which I think extremely well situated for a fort, as it has the absolute command of both rivers. The land at the point is 20 or 25 Feet above the common surface of the water; and a considerable bottom of flat, well-timbered land all around it, very convenient for building: The rivers are each a quarter of a mile, or more, across, and run here very near at right angles: Allegheny bearing N. E. and Monongahela S. E. The former of these two is a very rapid and swift running water; the other deep and still, without any perceptible fall.

Between 1753 and 1777, four different forts stood where Point State Park is today: Fort Prince George, Fort Duquesne, Mercer’s Fort, and Fort Pitt. On the Great Lawn as you approach the fountain, you will notice concrete pavers; this is the outline of what was formerly Fort Duquesne.

In 1945, the state Parks Department had purchased the land which was used as an industrial park. It took several decades but after the completion of the park in 1974, Point State Park was named a National Historic Landmark. Several renovations occurred in 2008 and 2009 to upgrade the park and restore the fountain.

Standing at the fountain, you have one of the best views of the city; maybe second only to the views on Mt. Washington. Looking down the Allegheny River you can see the Science Center, Heinz Field, PNC Park, the Vietnam Veterans and Korean War Memorials, and the Three Sisters (the Roberto Clemente, Andy Warhol, and Rachel Carson bridges). If you wanted to, you could even use the new pedestrian bridge that connects the North Shore to Point State Park and see these things up close!

On the Ohio River you can see the West End, the Duquesne Incline, and the Rivers Casino. To your left toward the Monongahela River, you will see Station Square, the Monongahela Incline, the Fort Pitt Bridge, and the famous overlooks on Mt. Washington. It’s impossible to say there is nothing to see there!

If taking in the scenery of Point State Park isn’t enough for you, there are a number of recreational activities in which you can participate. The Three Rivers Heritage Trail runs through the park. Visitors can walk the trail or bike it. The trail is about 24 miles long and connects the North Side to downtown and also to South Side. It is a hub to other trail systems including the Great Allegheny Passage; a 325 mile long trail that leads to Washington DC. Boating and fishing are allowed in designated areas with the proper permits.

There is also a plethora of activities held in the park. Coming up on October 1st, the Fort Pitt Museum will be hosting its RADical Day and providing free admission. There are also walking historical tours including a Haunted History tour just in time for Halloween!

For more information about Point State Park, visit the PA Department of Conservation and Natural Resource’s website or PointStatePark.com.