By Glenn A. Walsh
Reporting for SpaceWatchtower
The Noon hour on Saturday (June 23) brought the grand opening of the new Buhl Community Park at Allegheny Square in the Allegheny Center section of Pittsburgh's Lower North Side, in front of the original Buhl Planetarium and Institute of Popular Science building. The Children's Museum of Pittsburgh, which uses the original Buhl Planetarium building as part of their museum campus, spearheaded the campaign to raise the $6.5 million needed for construction of this new City of Pittsburgh park.
Buhl Community Park at Allegheny Square is named for North Side merchant and philanthropist Henry Buhl, Jr., who with partner and brother-in-law Russell H. Boggs, founded the Boggs and Buhl Department Store on Federal Street in Allegheny City (now Pittsburgh's North Side) in 1869. At his death in 1927, Mr. Buhl bequeathed most of his fortune to the new Buhl Foundation, which constructed America's fifth major planetarium, The Buhl Planetarium and Institute of Popular Science, in 1939. Buhl Community Park at Allegheny Square sits directly between the original Buhl Planetarium and Institute of Popular Science building and the site of the former Boggs and Buhl Department Store.
The Buhl Community Park at Allegheny Square replaces the below street-level Allegheny Square Plaza constructed in the 1960s by the City of Pittsburgh, as a companion project with the Allegheny Center office, retail mall, and apartment complex developed by the ALCOA Corporation. Allegheny Square Plaza, which included a public amphitheater which doubled as a public fountain when the amphitheater was not in use, had been in disrepair for many years. Allegheny Square Plaza had been a favorite site for school groups visiting Buhl Planetarium to eat lunch, particularly during the busy Spring months.
Allegheny Square has been a public park since 1840, when it served as the town square for the independent City of Allegheny. In 1907, Allegheny City was annexed to the City of Pittsburgh. Adjacent to Allegheny Square were several prominent buildings: Allegheny City Hall (now site of the original Buhl Planetarium and Institute of Popular Science building), America's first publicly-funded Carnegie Library, world's first Carnegie Hall (now used by the New Hazlett Theater), original Allegheny Post Office (now used by the Children's Museum of Pittsburgh), Allegheny City Market House (now the site of an apartment high-rise), and the Boggs and Buhl Department Store (now the site of the One Allegheny Square office building).
Originally called Diamond Square, it was renovated in 1939 as Ober Park (funded by one of the founders of the North Side's Eberhardt and Ober Brewery). This was also a companion project with the original construction of The Buhl Planetarium and Institute of Popular Science, which also opened in 1939.
The new Buhl Community Park at Allegheny Square includes a central plaza with movable tables and chairs, a large meadow with native grasses and indigenous plant materials throughout the park, rain gardens to capture storm water, and natural bluestone walls for seating. While the 1960s Allegheny Square Plaza was built as an open-air plaza below street-level, the Buhl Community Park at Allegheny Square was raised back to street-level, as were the older Diamond Square and Ober Park versions of the town square.
The highlight of the park is "Cloud Arbor," a public art piece by Ned Kahn, which includes 64 stainless-steel poles. Water forced through high-pressure nozzles, in 24 of the 32-foot-high poles, creates a large cloud of mist every few minutes. On a warm Summer day, such as during the park dedication, the mist has a cooling effect without getting people wet.
The park dedication ceremony started promptly at Noon, with addresses by Allegheny County Chief Executive Rich Fitzgerald, Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl, Pittsburgh City Council President Darlene Harris (whose City Council District includes the new park), and Buhl Foundation President Frederick W. Thieman.
Children's Museum Executive Director Jane Werner served as the Master of Ceremonies, and special recognition was given to former Children's Museum Board Chair Ann Lewis.
At the conclusion of the ceremony, the park was officially declared open to the pubic with the first official cloud mist from "Cloud Arbor," which occurred at precisely 12:20:28 p.m. EDT.
More information on Buhl Community Park at Allegheny Square:
More information on the history of Allegheny Square:
Biographical information on Henry Buhl, Jr.:
More information on the history of Boggs and Buhl Department Store:
More information on the history of The Buhl Planetarium and Institute of Popular Science:
Related Blog Posts ---
Buhl Planetarium Scale-Model Joins Miniature Railroad and Village (2014 Nov. 27): Link >>> spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/2014/11/buhl-planetarium-scale-model-joins.html
75th Anniversary of America's 5th Major Planetarium (2014 Oct. 24):
Solar Eclipse on Eve of Buhl Planetarium's 75th Anniversary (2014 Oct. 21):
Asteroid Named for Henry Buhl of Buhl Planetarium (2014 June 26):
70th Anniversary: Buhl Planetarium Observatory (2011 Nov. 19):
Source: Glenn A. Walsh Reporting for SpaceWatchtower, a project of Friends of the Zeiss.
Glenn A. Walsh, Project Director,
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Author of History Web Sites on the Internet --
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* Adler Planetarium, Chicago:
* Astronomer, Educator, Optician John A. Brashear:
< http://johnbrashear.tripod.com >
* Andrew Carnegie & Carnegie Libraries:
* Civil War Museum of Andrew Carnegie Free Library:
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* cable-car railway, Pittsburgh:
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