Edward Manning Bigelow was, by all accounts, as corrupt as any other Pittsburgh politician of his day. But he had two things that earn him a place in history: a vision of Pittsburgh as a great city, and a silver tongue with little old ladies. Seeing that Pittsburgh was rapidly expanding to the east, he determined that a great city must have a great park. Right in the way of the eastward expansion was Mary Schenley’s broad expanse of empty land. Mary Schenley was heiress to the O’Hara glass fortune, but she had abandoned Pittsburgh and moved to England. Bigelow went there and persuaded her to donate her land to the city. In her honor, we call it Schenley Park, and—just as Bigelow imagined it—it’s a beautiful oasis of fields, forests, and art in the middle of the city. One of those works of art is this statue of Bigelow himself, which stands in the middle of the street in front of Phipps Conservatory. Here we see it surrounded by the golden late-fall leaves of Ginkgo biloba.
Why should the beautiful die?