Westinghouse 175

Wednesday, October 6, 2021 will mark the 175th anniversary of the birth of George Westinghouse Jr.  

In observation of his “dodrensbicentennial,” efforts are underway to restore Westinghouse Park, formerly the site of “Solitude,” the estate of George and Marguerite Westinghouse.

The creation of a comprehensive master development plan for the park is already underway, including the construction of a new community building and the implementation of a multi-year, archeological exploration of the historic site.

In addition, a broader effort is taking shape, a 175th retrospective of George Westinghouse, his life, accomplishments, impacts, and legacies.

We call it Westinghouse 175.

A survey about your thoughts regarding the master planning process!!!

We are undertaking an effort to create a master plan to cover the development of the park’s future. As part of this process, the Pittsburgh Department of Planning has posted this survey to gather the thoughts of park users. Just click this link to take part. The survey closes on April 23rd.

Welcome to Westinghouse Park

Celebrating its centennial in 2018, Westinghouse Park is a 10.2 acre city park situated in Pittsburgh’s East End neighborhood of Point Breeze North.

Here’s a bird’s eye view of the park today.

From 1871 to 1918, the site was “Solitude,” the estate of George Westinghouse Jr. and his wife Marguerite.

In 1871, Westinghouse was already a prosperous, self-made man of 25 when he purchased a house and 5-acre parcel along the Pennsylvania Railroad’s mainline 6 miles east of Pittsburgh, between Murtland Street and Lang Avenue. The location was appropriate; the railroad was Westinghouse’s primary customer and also his way to get around both the county and the country.

Over the next decade, he and Marguerite enlarged the house, and when he acquired the adjacent 5-acre parcel, Westinghouse expanded his estate up to Thomas Boulevard. He also had a private railroad siding at the Homewood Station immediately across Lang Avenue.

Here’s how the property looked in 1890.

And here are photos of Solitude’s mansion and grounds.

Westinghouse also had a new stable building erected, with a power generator and his private laboratory in its basement.

And to get from his house to his ‘inner sanctum,” Westinghouse had a 220-foot tunnel dug between the two. Eight feet high from floor to ceiling, the brick-lined tunnel remains entirely intact for its entire length.

During the four decades Westinghouse lived and worked at Solitude, numerous notable politicians, industrialists, and scientists came to visit, including Congressman and future President William McKinley and Britain’s Lord Kelvin. Nicola Tesla, the AC electricity theorist, lived at Solitude for several months while helping to develop a practical AC system that would work with his motors and generators.

But perhaps the most notable event that happened on Solitude was the 1884 discovery of a huge pocket of natural gas in several wells Westinghouse had drilled in his own back yard.

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After both George and Marguerite died in 1914, Solitude was bequeathed to their only child, George III, who in turn sold the property to the Engineers’ Society of Western Pennsylvania in 1918. The society deeded the estate to the city for a dollar to be used as a public park and memorial to Westinghouse.

The Solitude mansion was razed the next summer, and the park was developed over the ensuing months. In the early 1960s, the stables were also torn down and replaced by the present cement block structure. Other than stone columns at old entrances, the only vestiges of Solitude that remain above ground are several copses of magnificent red oak and ginkgo trees.

Below ground is another matter.

Please continue scrolling down this long page for continuing information about Westinghouse Park and George Westinghouse.

Westinghouse Park Planning Process Begins

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Westinghouse Park Planning Process Begins

The Westinghouse Park 2nd Century Coalition ( WP2CC) and the Point Breeze North Development Corporation (PBNDC) are pleased to announce they are working together toward the creation of a master plan for the park.

This partnership creates a mechanism for working with Pittsburgh’s Department of Public Works, Pittsburgh City Planning, other expert entities, and the community to develop the criteria for the City to use in developing a request for proposals for a master plan for the park. The project will run through May 2021.

Funding for the project has been provided by a Neighborhood Initiative Fund (NIF) grant by the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA). The grant is supplemented by additional financial support from ICON Development.

Community participation is the essential element in this planning process, and a range of activities will be implemented over the coming months to nurture and quantify that participation. A series of meetings and park events are also envisioned to take place, as allowed by evolving Covid 19 concerns.

Planning will focus on four key elements:

1) Building Community: Westinghouse Park attracts visitors from beyond the immediate Point Breeze North neighborhood. The current connection with Homewood is a decrepit footbridge over the rail/busway, which is made less accessible by multiple flights of stairs. Similarly, relatively few Point Breeze neighbors cross Penn Avenue to visit the park. This project will engage and involve park stakeholders on both sides of those division lines, and seeks to establish and support a positive, cooperative relationship with the new sports facility now being developed at Homewood Field. The planning process will also consider the new residential and commercial development at the former Lexington Technology Park, one block away.

2) Historic and Cultural Significance: “History Happens Here” is more than a motto for the WP2CC. From 1871 to 1918, the Park was the site of “Solitude,” the Pittsburgh home of George Westinghouse, including his private underground laboratory. In addition to a lengthy list of luminaries who visited, myriad historic events actually occurred there. Preliminary archaeological studies indicate the probable presence of numerous artifacts at the site of the house, the lab, and the 220-foot-long tunnel that connects them.

3) Environmental Stewardship: The 10-acre park contains lawns, pathways, and many magnificent trees, including several planted by George Westinghouse some 140 years ago. The park also provides an opportunity for storm water mitigation. In addition to preservation of historic elements of the landscape and beautification of the park overall, planning process participants will explore possibilities for incorporating features such as rain gardens, bio-swales, permeable pathways, and other green infrastructure into the design. Since the park is a primary headland for the Negley Run watershed, PWSA, and ALCOSAN will also participate in the planning process.

4) Recreation and Relaxation: Neighbors and community members currently use the park for myriad reasons, bicycling, strolling, jogging, dog walking, and socializing. Its playground is popular with families. The plan seeks to enhance and expand those activities and experiences. For example, the existing, 60-year-old, concrete block structure, built over the remains of George Westinghouse’s laboratory, is unattractive, decrepit, and insufficient for neighborhood needs.  It should be removed and replaced.

If you are interested in joining the conversation, the first Zoom community meeting to discuss the plan will be held on Monday, August 3 at 7:00 p.m.

To receive a link to joining the meeting, or if you have anyquestions about the project, please send an e-mail to info@pointbreezenorth.com with WESTINGHOUSE PARK in the subject line.

For developments, check  www.westinghousepark.org ) or ( http://www.pointbreezenorth.com).

You can also follow us on Facebook at Westinghouse Park and at Point Breeze North Development Corporation.

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