From Pittsburgh Streets
Claims He Killed Project of Cemetery Co. to Get Land From Highland Park
Alleged That Certain Councilmen Were Interested in Plans---Mayor Guthrie Acts Very Promptly

Former Director of Public Works E. M. Bigelow has blocked what he claims was a gigantic scheme to secure from the city a large portion of Highland Park.

A cemetery company, he claims, has been working quietly with the view of purchasing from the city 150 acres of this popular breathing spot.

It is claimed that certain councilmen had been approached on the matter, and that sentiment was being sounded on the proposition, preliminary to introducing an ordinance in city councils.

But Mr. Bigelow has effectually killed the scheme, he claims.

A visit by him to the office of Mayor G. W. Guthrie—the first since the present mayor has been in office—did it, Mr. Bigelow asserted this morning.

Mr. Bigelow said:

"A syndicate, backed by members of Pittsburg councils, has been making an effort to purchase 150 acres of Highland Park from the city. In an interview with Mayor Guthrie this week, I think I effectually headed off this project, and nothing more will be heard of it.

"It would be a shame to allow a private corporation to get a part of Pittsburg's park system, and I talked strongly and convincingly against such a course."

It is claimed by Mr. Bigelow that the Highland Cemetery Co. was making all preparations to try to get the 150 acres wanted from the city. Although persons directly interested in the cemetery company denied this this morning, Mr. Bigelow indicated that the project was being pressed as hard as possible and that certain councilmen had become interested in it.

News of the reputed plans of the cemetery company reached Mr. Bigelow on Wednesday morning. Although having retired from official duties for months, Mr. Bigelow's interest in the public parks and his years of faithful effort in beautifying them for the people of Pittsburg caused him to be deeply aroused.


Consequently his first move was to go straight to the office of Mayor Guthrie. Mr. Bigelow had not called on the mayor since the latter was inducted into office until then. He had been to the office once before, but the mayor was not in.

To the mayor, Mr. Bigelow laid bare all the reported plans being made for the taking of the land from Highland Park. Mr. Bigelow pointed out what he had done as director of the department of public works for the parks, and appealed to the mayor to block any schemes that may be on foot or might be started hereafter for taking an inch of ground from the public parks.

Mayor Guthrie gave his promise that he would do everything in his power to keep the park lands intact, and that not a food should be sold off to the cemetery company or to any other concern.

Since this interview with the mayor, Mr. Bigelow has learned that the reputed plans for getting land from Highland Park have been abandoned.


Director James W. Clark, of the department of public works, denied that the Highland Cemetery Co. was trying to get city property. He said the company had bought what was known as the Schoenberger farm several years ago. This property adjoins the Leech farm, which is on the hill above the Brilliant pumping station and across the Beechwood boulevard from Highland Park.

The leech farm and another tract of land lying adjacent to it, comprising in all 100 acres, were given to the city by the Pennsylvania Railroad Co. a few years ago in return for the rights for the Brilliant cutoff. This property has never been developed and there is no likelihood that it will be for years to come.

Director Clark said that the Schoenberger farm was ample for the cemetery and that he was opposed to any plan for getting rid of the Leech farm property. Said he:

"The Leech farm is on a steep hill and is altogether inaccessible for a park. The nearest street cars are on Lincoln avenue, which is a considerable distance away and can be reached only by crossing farms and woods. The next nearest street car facilities necessitate a long walk down the Beechwood boulevard and a climb up the hill.

"The only way whereby this property could be utilized for park purposes would be to build a bridge to connect it with Highland Park. The bridge would cross Beechwood boulevard and the Brilliant cut-off. It would have to be very long and very high, and the cost is estimated at $500,000.

"The city does not have the money to build such a bridge. Therefore it looks as if the city would have to let the land lie undeveloped. Perhaps in 10 years the city will have enough money to build the bridge, or the adjoining land will be built up sufficiently to warrant the transformation of the land into a park which would be entirely distinct from Highland Park."


Mayor George W. Guthrie said he had not heard of any attempt to acquire the property, but declared that he was un- [sic]

"If the cemetery company needs land," he said, "let it go farther out. We cannot give up to the dead what is needed for the living. The very idea of giving up that property is intolerable. The city should never give up a foot of property unless in exchange for some other property that is more desirable.

"A prominent official of the Pennsylvania Railroad told me that that company had never sold a bit of land that it hadn't regretted, and I think the same thing will be said of the city some day. We need all the breathing spots we can get. If this property above Brilliant cannot be used now, it can be some day. The city is growing, and land that appears inaccessible now will be built up in the course of time.

"When I was a boy I used to play ball on Fifth avenue where the Exchange Bank now stands. If the city had taken advantage of the opportunities it had then to secure breathing spots in the places that are now densely populated, it would be much better off today.

"If the city had widened Oliver avenue, Sixth avenue and Diamond street when it was young, it would not have been forced to go to the great expense that the widening required a few years ago. The way to provide for the future of the city is to use foresight when it is young.


"We must use foresight in holding on to this property above Brilliant. It will not be many years before that section is built up, and a park can then be made of the land that will be of inestimable benefit. The city does not have enough parks and public squares. Where new parks can be laid out I don't know.

"Another thing that the city ought to have, and must have, is more playgrounds. When I was a boy we had plenty of spaces to play ball or engage in other sports. I didn't have to hunt up a back lot and throw craps. Boys are not naturally bad. It is their environment that makes them so. The city would not train boys for the reform school if there was a sufficiency of places where boys could play ball instead of getting into mischief.

"If boys are weak and puny, because they have no places where they can engage in rough sports, they will not be of much use to the country when they become men."