North Shore Riverfront Park


The North Shore Riverfront Park is the result of a $35 million investment in rehabilitation and reconstruction on the northern banks of the Allegheny and Ohio Rivers. In total, the park includes 11.25 acres of public and green space. Specifically, the park contains 3.1 acres of lawn and 2.1 acres of planting area. The remaining acreage is dedicated to a riverwalk, walkways, memorials, and public art.

Please see the Rules and Regulations for planning your event.
North Shore Riverfront Park

Key Facts

Architect: EDAW Inc.
Development Cost: $35 million
Total Acreage: 11.25 acres
Contractors: Joseph B. Fay Company
Frank J. Zottola Construction Inc.
Mascaro Construction Company


The SEA completed the park with assistance from federal, state, local and philanthropic sources which include:
  • Pennsylvania Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program
  • Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources
  • Federal Transportation Enhancements Safe Routes to School Program
  • The Heinz Endowments
  • Richard King Mellon Foundation
  • The Grable Foundation
  • Eden Hall Foundation
  • Hillman Foundation
  • Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation
  • Roy A. Hunt Foundation
  • Jewish Healthcare Foundation
  • Laurel Foundation
  • H.J. Heinz Company Foundation
  • Alcoa Foundation
  • PNC Charitable Trust
  • Anonymous
The park was designed and programmed through a series of public workshops. EDAW, Inc. developed schematic designs from a week long charrette held in November 1999. Hundreds of individuals and dozens of interest groups gave input to the design team.

The park spans from the Roberto Clemente Bridge and PNC Park westward to the Carnegie Science Center. Features include:

Riverwalk, Market Street Pier, and Esplanade
The Riverwalk is used for a variety of recreational activities including running, fishing, boating and biking. Situated along the riverwalk, it encourages public access to the river.

The Esplanade is a broad walkway of brick, granite and sandstone that extends the length of the park. It is set at the plateau of the riverbank, 16 feet above the river. The Esplanade offers outdoor dining opportunities. The Market Street View Corridor is adjacent to the Esplanade and bisects the Peoples Center. It enables pedestrians to access the park from the restaurants located along North Shore Drive.

Great Lawn
The Great Lawn is a two-acre green space which overlooks the rivers. It is a popular gathering space and is large enough to accommodate huge crowds for festivals, performances, and other special events.
North Shore Riverfront Park - Great Lawn
Water Steps and Canal Square
The Water Steps are a popular destination feature in the North Shore Riverfront Park. The steps offer a playful element to the Park and a creative display of water landscaping.

The Water Steps are constructed of nearly 500 blocks of sandstone cut from a Butler County quarry and more than 1,000 smaller pieces of sandstone. The Water Steps are approximately 40 feet wide at the top, but broaden as the steps descend. Many children and families gather there to relax and enjoy the views of the City.

Completed in 2007, Canal Square connects North Shore Drive with the Esplanade and Water Steps. Canal Square is eighty-eight feet wide and paved with bricks similar to the Esplanade's look. Its central feature is a reflecting pool that varies from twenty-six to thirty-five feet wide and recreates the form and location of a nineteenth century canal.

The Canal flows from the same source as the Water Steps. The sides of the pool have sandstone curbs which encourage visitors to sit along its length. At the midpoint of the canal is a small waterfall and a twelve-foot wide pedestrian bridge, so that visitors can cross the canal.
North Shore Riverfront Park - Water Steps
Carnegie Science Center Connection & Shoreline Mitigation
In September 2005, the Carnegie Science Center Connection was created to join the existing trails along the river to the North Shore Riverfront Park. The Connection includes seating steps, a public plaza and landscaping. This project was funded through a Federal Transportation Enhancement grant.

The Carnegie Science Center Connection provides the missing link between Steeler's Quay and the Carnegie Science Center and provides park users direct access westward along the trail. The pathway is accessible for both event and emergency vehicles and for people with disabilities.

This second phase of the Carnegie Science Center Connection project included underwater mitigation along the entire stretch of North Shore Riverfront Park. Completed in August 2007, the aquatic mitigation included dredging, rip rap and boulders. These measures were required by the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to protect endangered and threatened species of fish while also improving river habitat.

In addition, shoreline mitigation increased opportunities for educational enrichment. The natural environment on the riverfront and in the water serves as new “laboratories” for discovery and recreational activities. RiverQuest, an educational organization that operates the river-learning vessel Explorer, uses this section of the park for field trips, lessons and simple experiments, encouraging both children and families to learn about and interact with the rivers.

Memorials and Public Art
North Shore Riverfront Park contains several different memorials as well as a public art piece created by nationally acclaimed artist R.M. Fischer. Please visit Public Art & NSRFP for more information.

Event Information

The North Shore Riverfront Park is a popular location for special events. Many run/walks, festivals, ceremonies, and other community events are held in the park each year. Please visit Events and NSRFP for more information on scheduling an event in the park.
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