Another Square Deal Downtown

 Hey, it really is hip to be square around these parts these days. After all, Market Square is one of the hottest new dining and nightlife destination spots in Downtown. And in just a few months, we'll welcome back warmer weather with an exciting new schedule of al fresco events in the Square, including the Farmers Market, noontime concerts and the Carnegie Library Reading Room.

Mellon Square opening ceremony
October 18, 1955
But right now Market Square's sister square —Mellon Square — is getting a major overhaul that promises to make this mid-city oasis greener and better than ever thanks to the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy, the City of Pittsburgh and many generous individuals and organizations who are supporting the project.

Working on the Cascade Fountain at the
corner of Wood and Oliver
With the PPC guiding the project, the Mellon Square makeover will cover a lot of ground. In fact, just about every square inch of our sister square will receive some extra special TLC over the next months. In fact, works crews have been on the job since the dog days of last summer, cleaning and repairing the stairways from Smithfield Street, waterproofing the terraces that over hang the shops below and enjoying a great bird's-eye view of some exciting chase scenes from this summer's sure-bet big-screen blockbuster "The Dark Knight Rises." 

Before square one: Parking lots and shops occupied
the spot that became Mellon Square. Courtesy
the Heinz History Center.
While Market Square's been part of the Pittsburgh scene since the city's earliest pioneer days, Mellon Square is a more recent chip off the old ’Burgh block. When it opened in 1955, Mellon Square was a crowning jewel of the city's famed first Renaissance, which helped Pittsburgh blow away its "Smokey City" image. Replacing a crowded block of shops and surface parking lots, Mellon Square earned a place in urban planning as the first green space built on top of an underground parking garage. Since then, generations of Pittsburghers over the past half-century have flocked to the park for a moment of solitude during the day or to relax with co-workers during lunch. 

The City Green: Robert Bowden captures the
beauty of the renovated Mellon Square
in his watercolor rendition.
When the job's done, Mellon Square will more closely bring to life  the original vision for the space. Though part of the initial blueprints, a terrace over the street-level shops never made the final cut. But nearly 60 years later, the former giant planter will welcome visitors to a rectangular refuge from the streets below with grassy areas, benches and handicapped access. The falling waters of the Cascade Fountain will be turned on again and the park's center fountain and pool will shoot spouts of water high in the sky. New trees have already taken root in repaired planter boxes. And while the completed project will most certainly please the eyes of all beholders, some of the most incredible work is below the surface as workers have installed new drainage and irrigation systems, insulation, electrical wiring and waterproofing. 

 So don't forget to take a few steps toward Mellon Square when you're out on the town. You'll enjoy an amazing work in progress.


  1. If another 35 percent of the PAT buses are eliminated on Sept 1, 2012, there won't be many visitors to either Mellon Square or Market Square.
    Any speculation on what kind of retail store will move into the Saks/WT Grant site next year? Hopefully an urban Target will conssider the location

    1. Andy,
      Thanks for the comment. The loss of bus service would have a devastating impact on our region. You can make your concerns heard on KeepPGHmoving.com.
      As for your questions on retail sites, we haven't heard any definites on those locations. But if 2012 is like last year, we can expect to see some exciting new restaurants and retailers joining us Downtown!