Allegheny Commons (Pittsburgh)

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Allegheny Commons Park
(West Park)
Allegheny Commons (Pittsburgh) is located in Pittsburgh
Allegheny Commons (Pittsburgh)
Location of the Allegheny Commons Park in Pittsburgh
LocationAllegheny Center neighborhood, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Coordinates40°27′12.4″N 80°0′43.9″W / 40.453444°N 80.012194°W / 40.453444; -80.012194Coordinates: 40°27′12.4″N 80°0′43.9″W / 40.453444°N 80.012194°W / 40.453444; -80.012194
Governing body/ownerCity of Pittsburgh
CPHD designatedNovember 26, 1990

Allegheny Commons is a municipal park located in Pittsburgh's North Side. The park surrounds the neighborhood of Allegheny Center.[1] Dating to 1867, it is the oldest park in the city of Pittsburgh.[2][Note 1]


The park was once free grazing land which surrounded the first 32 blocks of Allegheny City in John Redick's 1784 town plan.[3] It was re-made into a municipal park in the 1860s by landscape architects hired by Allegheny City.[4]

Allegheny Commons Park has three main parts, all of which are in the Allegheny Center neighborhood: Allegheny Commons Park West Park, Allegheny Commons Park North Park, and Allegheny Commons Park East Park. The West Park portion is the largest of the three, and it has housed the National Aviary since 1952.

A non-profit organization, The Allegheny Commons Initiative maintains the park acting as a liaison[5] between it and the city through advocacy, fundraising, and project management.

Western Penitentiary[edit]

"Penitentiary near Pittsburgh" by Karl Bodmer, 1832–1839

From 1826 to 1880, the first prison west of the Atlantic Plain operated in the present day park. It was demolished in 1880. In 1882 a new prison bearing its name was completed a few blocks west, along the Ohio River.

Charles Dickens visited the city from March 20–22, 1842, during his American tour. He visited the prison and some scholars believe he based the classic A Christmas Carol on conditions at the facility.

The site is famous for housing 118 Confederate soldiers after their capture in Morgan's Raid a dozen miles to the west. It held them from August 5, 1863 until they were transferred to a military fort in New Jersey on March 18, 1864. Although conditions were good for the time, at least eight Confederates died during the winter, one while attempting escape.[6]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Note, however, that it did not become part of Pittsburgh until the annexation of Allegheny, Pennsylvania in 1907.


  1. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2011-05-06. Retrieved 2010-10-06.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  2. ^ "Steelers donate $ 300,000 to North Side park". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. May 9, 2009. Archived from the original on May 15, 2009.
  3. ^ "The next page: Reviving the North Side's "Lost City"". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. April 8, 2007. Archived from the original on August 21, 2009.
  4. ^ Lowry, Patricia (November 24, 2001). "Allegheny Commons to be retooled". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Archived from the original on 29 June 2011. Retrieved 3 November 2011.
  5. ^ "Allegheny Commons Initiative". Archived from the original on 2014-02-09.
  6. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2004-01-19. Retrieved 2011-05-22.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)