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Shade Tree Commission History  

History of the Pittsburgh Shade Tree Commission

Pittsburgh's relationship with the environment has not always emphasized the importance of keeping the region green as it does today. In early American history, westward bound settlers streamed into the region seeking prosperity on the banks of the Monongahela, Allegheny and Ohio Rivers.

Pittsburgh was initially built from a functional viewpoint with commerce and industry at the center of any planning or development.. This pattern, established early in the city's history, saw tremendous growth accompanied by horrible environmental conditions and a poor standard of living. The citizens of Pittsburgh began to recognize that their quality of life demanded something be done to improve the conditions within the city.

In 1869, the City of Pittsburgh acquired over 400 acres of farmland from the Schenley family to be used in the creation of an urban park. The goal of this park, was to provide green space for those living in the smoky and crowded city center. People seeking refuge from the city enjoyed Schenley Park, making it one of the most popular areas in the city of Pittsburgh.

In 1910, Pittsburgh recognized the importance of street trees to the urban community by creating the original Shade Tree Commission. The purpose was to transport the nature people came to appreciate so fully in Schenley Park to the rest of the city. The commission, however, was rather short lived, being replaced in 1914 by the Street Tree Division within the Bureau of Parks. The Shade Tree Commission's demise followed a general decline in enthusiasm and funding for Pittsburgh's shade tree programs. The past 20 years of neglect, more poignant than any other point in the city's history, devastated the city's tree populations and the neighborhoods they beautified. However, the current Pittsburgh Shade Tree Commission is working to reverse that trend.

Since our re-founding in 1998, the Pittsburgh Shade Tree Commission has been aggressively planting trees and maintaining their health throughout the city. The Shade Tree Commission has already planted trees in several neighborhoods, and has many new projects in their planning stages. With your help, Pittsburgh can re-establish its commitment to the urban forest and reverse the years of neglect that befell our tree populations. Join us and keep our city green.

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City Planning
200 Ross Street
Fourth Floor
Pittsburgh, PA 15219
(412) 255-2200