Westinghouse Memorial

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Directly behind the monument is a water body–the headwaters of the Phipps Run stream that runs through Schenley Park down to Panther Hollow Lake. Before there was a Westinghouse Memorial, the pond was called the “lily pond” and it was fed by the Phipps Run stream. After the memorial was built, the pond continued to receive its water entirely from this natural source. But somewhere along the line, a fountain was installed in the pond and much of the stream water was actually diverted underneath the pond. Potable water was treated and brought in to fill the basin, which was now being treated as a fountain and no longer a pond.
 


Historic postcard of the lily pond

Looking at this site’s larger implication to the park, treating it as a fountain instead of a pond is undesirable for two reasons: one, pumping the jet of water into the air required live wires to be run along the bottom of the pond, which isn’t exactly optimal for safety. Two, the stream water is diverted underground instead of being given a place to pool, which ultimately increases storm water runoff into an already overtaxed watershed.

The plan is to fill the pond the pond by the stream water, turning the pond into an ecological benefit as well as a park amenity. The pond’s fountain was not part of the original design; its aeration function will be replaced by bubblers or other similar devices, keeping the pond from becoming stagnant. That would also eliminate the need for electrical wires in the basin itself, making it safer. A container of aquatic plants will be added to the pond.


Other Improvements

The landscape would also see improvements as part of a restoration project. One important change would be to make the monument ADA-compliant. When the granite walkways are replaced, the steps on one side of the fountain will be changed to grade so that wheelchairs are able to access the monument. The plan also calls for extending the walkway behind the Memorial for improved access and viewing.

Lighting will also be redone and enhanced with some discreet overhead lighting to the pond and the monument to illuminate it in the evenings. Benches and seating walls will be rethought, especially with an eye to protecting the site during the annual Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix.

Additional sweet bay magnolias will be planted on the side, and the nearby hillside will be managed more ecologically user friendly.

The Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy is working collaboratively with the City of Pittsburgh to accomplish the restoration. The Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy is an independent non-profit organization.