The largest of Pittsburgh’s municipal parks at 561-acres, Frick Park is a wooded retreat within the heart of the city. Located among the hustle and bustle of Pittsburgh’s busy Squirrel Hill neighborhood, Frick Park is the embodiment of a young girl’s dream.
The story of Frick Park began in 1908, with wealthy industrialist Henry Clay Frick. Legend has it that the coke and steel magnate promised his seventeen-year-old daughter, Helen, that he would give her anything she wanted for her debutante party.
Upon his death in 1919, Henry Clay Frick bequeathed the city 151-acres south of his Point Breeze home. Helen’s wish was granted. As a result of the Frick’s generosity, the children of Pittsburgh have a place to play and appreciate nature.
Helen Clay Frick went on to become one of the biggest humanitarians of the 20th century.
Utilizing the $2 million trust Frick left to create the park, the city worked hard to acquire more land. In 1927, Frick Park opened to the public.
Many inner-city schoolchildren had their first experience with the natural world.
John Russell Pope designed the stone gatehouse entrances to the park. A prominent architect of the early 20th century, Pope designed many landmarks, including both the Jefferson Memorial and National Archives. The elegant French-style gatehouses were recently restored to their former glory.
Within the park is Clayton, the Frick’s primary residence from 1882 – 1905. In accord with the Frick’s increasing wealth and stature, the home transformed from an 11-room Italianate mansion to a 23-room château. Clayton is one of the few intact homes from Pittsburgh’s lost “Millionaire’s Row.” An astonishing 93% of the home’s artifacts are original.
Additional points of interest include, the Frick Art & Historical Center, the Frick Art Museum, the Car and Carriage Museum, the Greenhouse, and the Visitors’ Center.
Frick Park offers something that no other Pennsylvania park can: a public lawn bowling green!
Future plans include a new environmental center. The main building of the Frick Environmental Center burned in 2002.
The original 151-acres Frick bequeathed to the city became known as the Frick Woods Nature Reserve. It features steep valleys and wooded slopes. Falls Ravine Trail is a popular intermediate path. Like most of the trails in the nature reserve, it was a former carriage lane. The trail plunges 200-feet into a gorge filled with waterfalls and rock outcrops.
The plateau is deeply cut by the streams of Nine Mile and Falls Run. Falls Ravine Trail intersects with the trails into Fern Hollow and Nine Mile Run Hollow.
In May of 1998, an intense biological survey known as BioBlitz was held in the park. Over the course of a weekend, scientists and naturalists identified 1,471 species of life. Their inventory included 974 species of insects, 344 plants, 83 birds, 38 fungi, 15 amphibians and reptiles, and 15 mammals.
Pittsburghers have it easy: a woodland adventure waiting in their own backyards!