Secrets under Westinghouse Park (Pittsburgh)

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An archaeological dig at Westinghouse Park in Point Breeze has unearthed the ruins of what once was a nerve center of scientific innovation.

The finds show entrepreneur and engineer George Westinghouse at his zenith in the late 1800s, when his rivalry with Thomas Edison fueled a kinetic exploration of energy that shaped American life for generations.

He crafted a power network that sent electricity surging into his three-story villa, making it perhaps the first home in Western Pennsylvania with electric light. Archaeologists found the 200-foot tunnel used to carry electricity from a generator into his estate, according to a report obtained by the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. They also uncovered remnants of natural gas wells that once provided power to Westinghouse and his neighbors.

The city paid urban archaeologist Christine Davis Consultants, based in Verona, $13,000 to excavate the Westinghouse site last fall at the urging of community activists. They hope the revelations and others from future digs will help transform the park into a destination for students, tourists and history buffs, with signs detailing the site, lamps perhaps supplied with gas from one of the old wells, walking tours connecting it to other neighborhood historic sites, and a museum or educational center.

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