Heth's Run ravine
You could hike through this ravine to the Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium. Photo courtesy of Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy.

The Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy and the City of Pittsburgh want to know how you would like to see Heth’s Run, the 60-acre site located between Morningside and Highland Park, take shape. They are inviting the public to take a survey which will guide the design of the green space, a former stream valley extending from the Allegheny River to Heth’s Park, which includes the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium parking lot.

The concept is to connect the neighborhoods to the river, integrate green infrastructure, and provide new recreation and environmental education opportunities. Public input from the survey will allow planners to see how the public currently uses the space and then identify top priorities for the final design.

Highland Park’s distinguished art and architectural history will be a source of design inspiration. The project will include a recreation area with a soccer field, walking/biking trails, a reconfigured zoo parking lot and entrance, and an overlook to the Allegheny. A state-of-the-art stormwater management system will reduce stormwater entering the combined sewer system while improving wildlife habitat.

Heth's run aerial view
Aerial view of Heth’s Run in Highland Park. Photo courtesy of Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy.
Aerial view of Heth’s Run in Highland Park. Photo courtesy of Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy.

“We will be drawing inspiration from the community input,” says Susan Rademacher, parks curator at the Parks Conservancy,” as well as from Highland Park structures such as stone walls, steps, and buildings; features like the gardens and sculptures; and layout of paths and drives. We also aim to incorporate historic materials that have been salvaged by the City, such as stone from demolished bridges.”

Another reason for the appeal of the restoration of Heth’s Run as recreational green space? It provides the opportunity to increase walkable connections from Highland Park, Morningside, and East Liberty to the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium.

In 2000, the Regional Parks Master Plan was the first document to recommend restoring the park’s entrance and improving parking and recreational facilities. The project has gained momentum in the last several years with the reconstruction of the Heth’s Run bridge in 2014.

We see Heth’s Run as Pittsburgh’s lost valley, but one that is hidden in plain sight, said Eric Tamulonis, principal at landscape architecture firm Wallace, Roberts, and Todd (WRT), which is part of the design team. “Many people park here for the zoo, but have no reason to stay and explore, and may have no idea they are within Pittsburgh’s park system. Nearby residents overlook the valley, but have never benefited from it. Our work will be to develop a balanced plan that builds on what is already strong.”

The design team includes WRT, engineering firm D’Apollonia, BiohabitatsNelson Nygaard Transportation PlannersKolano Design, and HR&A Advisors, Inc. The team works under the joint direction of the City’s Department of Public Works and the Parks Conservancy, in partnership with the Pittsburgh Water & Sewer Authority and the Pittsburgh Zoo.

The survey is available until July 22nd on Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy’s website.

Maya Haptas

Maya Haptas has an M.A. in Historic Preservation Planning from Cornell University and is a freelance writer covering various topics from architecture and urban design to wellness and skateboarding. She is currently the assistant editor of Bigfoot Skateboarding Magazine.