The Memorial Story
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
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.
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.