Landslide2008: Marvels of Modernism


The Commons, the public lands which now include Lake Elizabeth, were originally established as common pasture land in the 1784 plan for the Town of Allegheny. Lake Elizabeth was later conceived in an 1868 design for Allegheny Commons by Mitchell Grant and Company as both an aesthetic and practical element of the site. Its origin as a scenic picturesque lake and collection pool expanded over the years to accommodate community activities including swimming, boating, and skating. Over utilized and poorly maintained, the lake was drained in 1930 and was left unfilled through World War II during which time it was used as a storage area for scrap metal.

After World War II, public and private interests in Pittsburgh combined in an effort called the "Pittsburgh Renaissance" to revitalize the city’s downtown area. Lake Elizabeth was filled-in and awaited a rebirth. In the 1960s, the City's Urban Redevelopment Authority introduced urban renewal programs in Pittsburgh’s Northside. Their intention was to reinvigorate the community by introducing new housing, educational, commercial and professional office facilities, parking and an extensive highway system to the area. While it is debatable as to whether these developments had their desired impact, a concurrent plan to revitalize Allegheny Commons, particularly the West Park section of the Commons, offered the community a center of energy around which real and sustainable neighborhood renewal continues today.

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List of Marvels

Boston City Hall Plaza
Boston, Massachusetts

Estates Drive Reservoir
Oakland, California

Heritage Plaza
Heritage Park
Fort Worth, Texas

Kaiser Roof Garden
Kaiser Center
Oakland, California

Lake Elizabeth
Allegheny Commons
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Manhattan Square Park
Rochester, New York

Mill Creek Canyon

Kent, Washington

Miller Garden
Columbus, Indiana

El Monte
Hato Rey, Puerto Rico

Pacific Science
Center Courtyard

Seattle, Washington

San Francisco, California

Peavey Plaza
Nicollet Mall
Minneapolis, Minnesota

education partners
Garden DesignGeorge Eastman House
Additional Sponsors

American Society of Landscape Architects’ Indiana, Pennsylvania/Delaware, Minnesota, Northern California, Texas, Upstate New York, and Washington Chapters • Astorino • Charles Butt • Design Within Reach • Topher Delaney • Sandy Donnell & Justin Faggioli • Fathom • Tom Fox • Hillman Foundation • Indianapolis Museum of Art • Lorraine Osmundson • Richard T. Murphy • National Trust for Historic Preservation’s Northeast, Southwest, and Western Offices- with funds from the Charles Evans Hughes Memorial Foundation of New York, Dodge Jones Foundation Intervention Fund, and Eastern Massachusetts Preservation Fund • James Richards • Seibert & Rice • Diana & Bruce Shuman • Ann Stack • SWA Group • TBG Partners • Michal and Jeffrey William Tincup • Unilock Inc. • The Woltz Charitable Trust