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Nine Mile Run

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The Nine Mile Run watershed in Pittsburgh is a small tributary sub-basin of the Monogahela River. Approximately 45% of the entire watershed is classified as underdeveloped land. As the former site of the Homestead Steel Company, the watershed contains a 21-story-high pile of slag, a by-product of steel making. The pile in question covers 238 acres along Nine Mile Run in Pittsburgh's east end, extending from the Squirrel Hill Tunnel to the Monongahela River shore. For over 90 years the site has represented the largest stretch of open riverfront land in the City.

During the first three decades of the 20th Century, progressive leaders in Pittsburgh attempted to conserve this area for public use. For the next seven decades it was a gruesome moonscape, buried under as much as 120 feet of industrial by-products and wastes. At the century's end, however, another effort began to restore the Run and make it available for public use. In 1995, the City of Pittsburgh commissioned a master planning study of the 230 acre site, by then owned by the Urban Redevelopment Authority. The study proposed building 1200 residential housing units (now reduced to about 700 units) and the development of 100 acres of public space. The site's entire surface area will eventually be surrounded by a contiguous public space along the stream from Frick Park to the Monogahela River. The 238-acre Nine Mile Run site in the neighborhoods of Squirrel Hill and Swisshelm park is the largest land acquisition in the Urban Redevelopment Authority's history and signifies an major opportunity for development and ecological restoration.

The Nine Mile Run watershed offers a potential aesthetic and economic model of the benefits of open space reclamation in brownfields and the related impact on contiguous housing developments. An ambitious program of wetlands and riparian restoration will accompany the upgrading of the watershed.

-Adapted from information provided by the Nine Mile Run Watershed Association

Watershed Links

Nine Mile Run Watershed Association
Established in 2001, the Nine Mile Run Watershed Association works to improve the watershed environment by supporting residents' efforts to increase green spaces, promoting lot level solutions to stormwater problems, providing citizen training for urban ecological stewardship, and acting as an information clearinghouse about key watershed issues.

This site sponsored by Greenworks contains several short videos on some of the pressing issues and restoration efforts associated with Nine Mile Run.

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Last Updated: January 20, 2006