North Park’s iconic water tower finds new purpose as a public viewing site
North Park’s famous water tower gets a makeover – this time as an observation tower, overlooking the largest park in Allegheny County.
The structure is 102 feet tall and 25 feet in diameter with an exterior spiral staircase comprising 154 steps, unique ironwork, and a dome topped with terrazzo flooring. It was built in 1936, when a high level of infrastructure craftsmanship was the norm.
The tower was designed to hold 300,000 gallons of water but is no longer functional for water storage and has been closed to the public for approximately 30 years.
“This has long been on our list of projects because of its proximity to the lodge, one of the most used facilities in the North Park, and because of the view it offers,” says County Manager Rich Fitzgerald. of Allegheny.
“The project is a perfect example of the opportunities that exist through the Parks Foundation and the remarkable work of its Board of Trustees to provide support and funding for projects that may not have been possible otherwise.”
From the top, there are panoramic views of the wooded valleys and rolling hills of the North Hills. On rare clear days, you can see the Cathedral of Learning in Oakland and the US Steel Tower in downtown Pittsburgh.
Once completed, the tower is expected to be a major attraction for the park.
“This is an exciting project for our community. We’ve been working on this rehabilitation for years and I’m thrilled to see it starting to move forward,” said Allegheny County Councilmember Cindy Kirk.
“Seeing recent videos and photos of the water tower…has allowed a whole new group of residents to see the possibilities (for the park) that exist.”
The design phase is expected to last six months, with a final review of plans and costs to be estimated this fall.
The renovations could be completed by fall 2023. The total budget for the project is around $1 million, but that is subject to change.
The Allegheny County Parks Foundation and the Babcock Charitable Trust – which provided a $400,000 grant – are supporting the project financially.
The design contract was awarded to Buchart Horn Architects for $108,660.