Allegheny Commons preservationists hope that National Register will help preserve park through bridge demolition


by Kelsey Shea

This week Allegheny Commons Park was added to the National Register of Historic Places, which preservationists hope will give them a stronger voice in the reconstruction of the West Park pedestrian bridge.

The honor of being added to the National Register came on the heels of an announcement from the City of its plans to tear down a pedestrian bridge in West Park without plans to replace it, which preservationists oppose.

“On one hand, the park is getting acknowledged as this national historic space,” said Allegheny Commons Initiative Director Alida Baker. “On the other hand, we’re being short-sighted and hand-in-mouth when implementing this pedestrian bridge project.”

The deck of bridge will be torn down Friday night, and there are no current plans to replace it.

City officials believe that there was no other solution and that the bridge is unsafe and unable to be saved.

The Allegheny Commons Initiative submitted an application to be on the National Register several years ago, and just being considered helped the organization bring the matter to the Historic Review Commission of Pittsburgh in 2010.

The HRC approved the demolition of the bridge, but dictated that the City must re-mediate the landscaping and grade of the site after demolition.

Allegheny Commons is a 225-year-old park on the lower Northside that was originally used as a “common” grazing pasture for livestock in 1788, and was developed into a park for Allegheny City in the late 1800s.

Baker said that the Allegheny Commons Initiative is thrilled to join the elite group of landscapes included on the register.

“What this does is just acknowledge that this is a very special landscape and that it’s worth preserving,” said Baker.  “We hope the designation will help us to attract much needed investment and inspire our City to treat it with integrity and respect.”

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