Like few other cities I know, Pittsburgh is dominated by water—or, to be more exact, three bodies of water: the Allegheny, Monongahela and Ohio Rivers.
Point State Park is located at the confluence of these three rivers. Its central feature, the fountain that I photographed while in the city early this month, stands at the site of the origin of the Ohio River.
Probably the best description of this point of civil pride—40 years old this year, like the park itself—comes from Thomas E. Morgan’s essay, “The Plume of Pittsburgh,” published in the Summer 1985 issue of Carnegie Magazine:
“No other large American city has a spectacular fountain as its symbol and visual focal point…. But the fountain in Pittsburgh is conceived as one of the most dramatic displays of water to be seen anywhere. It is unique in its use of great jets of water, its computer-controlled water height, its changes in illumination at night, and in its building materials. However, its most remarkable and least understood feature is its construction. It stands anchored at the confluence of the three rivers in such a way as to keep it ‘down,’ resisting the surrounding pressure of the river waters to force it ‘up,’ and it draws its water supply not from the visible waters which pass by it, but from an unnamed fourth river, subterranean, passing from the north to the south 54 feet below the surface of the Pittsburgh Point.”