The completion of the work of improving Schenley Farms is the consummation of one of the largest, if not the largest, real estate undertakings this district has ever seen. The contractors have been at work for over one year and the work was carried on night and day throughout that period.
The result of the labor is that the farms have been transformed into the finest building section in the city. Fronting on Fifth avenue and Forbes street, directly opposite the main entrance to Schenley Park, it commands a view of the park and the home district of the East End.
Although over a million dollars have been expended on the work the results are beyond the fondest hopes of the average realty operator, and the Oakland district now has the finest streets and avenues in the entire city. The general shape of Schenley Farms is square and its streets and avenues from 50 to 60 feet wide show what can be done when proper care is used in their construction. Bayard street now joins Grant Boulevard and extends through to Boquet street; Parkman street, the second square from Fifth avenue, also connects with the Boulevard, while six new avenues have been cut at right angles from Fifth avenue making each block of lots as near square as possible. All the streets and avenues are straight.
Much landscape gardening has been done and the streets are lined with a double row of maple trees and shrubbery has been planted at regular intervals, giving the new district the appearance of a well kept park. Each block is terraced 2½ feet above the curb line and the uniformity of this, as well as the levelness of the entire plan, is pleasing. So level are the streets that not one of them exceeds a 6 per cent. grade.
The streets and avenues are of asphalt and six feet wide granolithic sidewalks are used throughout. The curb is of concrete and forms an unbroken line from block to block. Brass plates bearing the names of the streets are placed in the sidewalks at each corner.
A WIRELESS DISTRICT.
One particularly noticeable feature of the new district is the absence of overhead wires. Not a wire or pole mars the beauty of the landscape. The telephone and electric wires are in conduits placed beneath the sidewalks. The water and gas mains as well as the sewers are to be found in the same place, so that when connections are required they can be made without tearing up the streets or disturbing traffic.
The district is lighted by electricity, the lamps being suspended from ornamental iron posts, similar to those used in New York City, particularly in Fifth avenue.
Already several fine houses are being built on Lytton avenue. The character of these houses is particularly striking. The architecture of each differs entirely and while the material is either brick or stone, each possesses individuality that commends.
Judging from the number of real fine houses being erected or being planned it is almost certain that no district in this section can compare with Schenley Farms in point of wealth invested in houses.
The building restrictions, although liberal, will not admit of any cheaply built houses, only the very best and finest homes will be erected.
The demand for houses conveniently located was never greater than now. The new districts will undoubtedly be built up rapidly owing to its proximity to all parts of the city.
It lies between Forbes street and Center avenue, is bounded on the east by Bellefield avenue, and on the west by Boquet street. Opposite the Forbes street frontage is the main entrance to Schenley Park, the Carnegie Library and the new six million dollar Carnegie Technical School. Directly opposite the Bellefield side is the Bellefield Church, the First Congregational Church is but a block away and the Catholic Cathedral the same distance, and the United Presbyterian Church is on the Fifth avenue frontage of the plan. The Schenley Hotel is across the street from the plan. The Bellefield apartments and many handsome homes face the eastern side of the plan, and although all these improvements are already permanently established, many more are under way. Chief among these is the new home of the University Club and the million dollar public high school.
The Baltimore and Ohio railroad has decided, it is said, to erect a handsome station at the Junction Hollow, near Forbes street. Many ornate homes are being built on Lytton and Tennyson avenues and before many months elapse many more houses will be erected. The improvements in the way of buildings in this district so far exc9eed [sic] $15,000,000.
All the Fifth avenue, Forbes street and Center avenue car lines pass Schenley Farms, and this is an accommodation that no other section in the city can boast of. When the new Baltimore and Ohio station is completed it is expected that the same service as found at the Pennsylvania railroad's East Liberty station will be given.
The present running time of the cars from Schenley Farms to Market street is 14 minutes. East Liberty is to be reached in 12 minutes, the South Side in the same time, while Wilkinsburg, Allegheny and Homestead are reached in 14 to 20 minutes respectively. The Phipps Conservatory is but a short walk, while Schenley park is just across the street. The average automobile requires but 8 minutes to reach Market stret [sic] from Schenley Farms. Realty experts declare that never before was there such a realty proposition presented in this city.
HELD BY THE SCHENLEYS FOR A CENTURY.
The original deed that conveyed the property now known as Schenley Farms was made by William Penn to Edward Smith on January 24, 1790, for the consideration of 310 pounds sterling and subject to a yearly quit rent of one pepper corn. A short time afterwards it passed to the O'Hara family and for 104 years was held by them.
The property came to Mrs. Schenley through inheritance from her father,[a] James O'Hara, a general in the Continental army, and one of the early pioneers of this section. He was the founder of Schenley and Denny estates. Mrs. Schenley's mother married a rich southerner named Croghan, and after her death the estate came to Mrs. Schenley.
for many years Schenley farm was a hindrance to the Oakland district, due to the policy of the late Mrs. Mary E. Schenley to lease and not to sell the land. Many efforts were made to induce her to sell portions of it, but she refused. After her death her trustees disposed of the property in April of last year to the present owners for $3,000,000.
Immediately after the purchase of the property the present owners awardd [sic] the contract for its improvement, and the result is a monument to them and the engineers. The entire arrangement is so different from anything ever seen in this district that one feels as though you were in some eastern city as soon as the Schenley Farms are entered. The wide, even streets, broad sidewalks as well as the general cleanliness are far beyond the ordinary. In short the Farms present the appearance of a model city. Apart from the section reserved for public and kindred institutions, there are over 500 lots of ample width and depth. With the completion of homes and other buildings it is estimated at last $10,000,000 will be expended in Schenley Farms, and this means a big addition to the city tax income each year.
AVENUES HAVE LITERARY NAMES.
For several blocks Schenley Farms front upon Fifth avenue beginning at Boquet street and ending at Bellefield avenue.
Beginning at Boquet street the new avenues are Thackeray, Natalie, Grant Boulevard, Lytton, Tennyson and Ruskin. Bayard street is continued right through the property from Bellefield avenue to Boquet street.
The majority of the streets terminate on the boulevard, making direct connection with Center avenue.
Owing to the location, its proximity to all points, and the fact that it is right in the center of the city, Oakland has been attracting the attention of realty investors for some time and since the improvements have been made on Schenley Farms the value of contiguous real estate has increased considerably. Real estate operators and investors predict that this section is undergoing such a movement as occurred in Madison Square, New York, where so many investors amassed fortunes.
Again, it is claimed that the number and importance of the institutions now locating in Oakland promises to give to that section of Pittsburg the distinction Copely square gives to Boston.
- This is an error. James O'Hara was Mary Schenley's maternal grandfather.