Sunday, June 8, 2014

Southern Park Pittsburgh (Carrick) in Retrospect

So everyone knows about the classic and awesome Kennywood. Less folks know that Pittsburgh Railways Company, the same company that created Kennywood, also had three other parks throughout the city as a means to gain ridership out of the main city area and into the then country. The three other parks were Calhoun Park, Oakwood Park in Crafton, and Southern Park in the Carrick neighborhood of Pittsburgh. Today we will be looking at Southern Park.

Southern Park is now utilized as a park area. Because of the obscurity of the park and the fact that it closed way back in 1910, it is difficult to determine what the park consisted of. Wikipedia and the Carrick Historical Society say there were coasters and carousels, but I cannot find anything in any publications about them, or any photos. Judging by the newspaper ads, this wooded area was primarily used for musical events.

The spot seems like it would be amazing for building coasters for it is located on a steeply graded area. The community park area is known as Phillips Park, named after John M. Phillips, a founding member of the Boy Scouts in Pennsylvania. One of the first projects he partook in was cleaning up the park area to be a public park once the amusement area was removed. He helped plant trees and make this a recreation area after the amusement park closed.
Fourth of July celebration in front of the location of those stairs? This is from the park when it was open. (Carrick Historical Society)

The following clipping from the Pittsburgh Press talks about an ox-roast picnic, with "enjoyment on the various amusements at the park." This is from 1904. This is the only newspaper evidence I can find of there being rides at the park. This may be the only time I talk about politics on this page, and I say that you should generally disregard it. Regardless of where anyone stands on politics, the Republican Party of 1904 was headed by President Teddy Roosevelt, someone I think we can all universally admire.
Now we get into 1905 and find a write up about the many trolley parks. It only makes mention of "amusement devices" at Kennywood. I would imagine that Kennywood was built up quite a bit more for it was kind of in the center of everything, as opposed to the other trolley parks. The major steel cities of Duquesne, McKeesport, Clairton, were in one direction, with Homestead and the City of Pittsburgh in the other. The article uncovers a common theme which seems that Southern Park's offerings mostly consisted of concerts and vaudeville acts.
1905 giant article about the Pittsburgh Trolley Parks. Bands and shows at Southern Park and acrobats as Kennywood.
Here you can see the side by side advertisements for the four trolley parks in their little chain of sorts from 1905. 
In the following advertisement from 1903 you can see the origins of the Kennywood arrow signs. Four arrows for the four parks. Those pointing fingers are how the Kennywood arrow initially looked. The Kennywood Steeplechase was a short lived coaster similar to the famous Coney Island Steeplechase. It only lasted for one season and it was located where Lost Kennywood is today. 
Here in 1906 you can see the suburb starting to pop up around this park that was initially built in a semi-rural area.
Could one of these houses be from this advertisement in 1906? I apologize for the photo quality on this one. It was through the windshield.
I am not certain of the locations of things within this park since so little information exists. The following pictures is from 1914 of Phillips led Boy Scouts cleaning up the park and making a trail. (Carrick Historical Society)

This article from 1916 talks about a shelter. I wonder if it was located around where the Carrick Recreation Center is located at the top of the hill? 1916 was after the park closed as an amusement park and it is likely that it was renamed after Philips in memoriam. 
To sum it all up, this park is a mystery to me. Not much information exists. Each piece of information I find is like a small piece of the puzzle. If anyone else knows anything about this park, please let me know. The park has been closed for 114 years and information is scarce. It is cool that the park left enough of an impact to create a community park that has lasted about a century longer than the park did as an amusement park. I think that in itself is pretty amazing. The fact that it had such a huge impact upon getting the Boy Scouts started in Pennsylvania is pretty awesome as well. 

This article dates back to 1921, long after the park had closed. Athletic events then:
Athletics at the park today:
I find the continuum of how things roll in progress to be absolutely fascinating. Carrick is no longer too much of a suburb as it was back then, but this green area still remains as the heart of the neighborhood, right next to the neighborhood's high school, Carrick High School. It is not until you look into things that you see just how important a seemingly quiet spot can have upon the entire community. 

1 comment:

  1. there are 2 wide panarama pictures of southern park in State rep Harrys Readshows office they hung in the phillips park shelter office for many years