Politics, Poison Ivy & the Ohio River Boulevard

Wednesday, February 12, 2020 | 1:59 PM


Having personally paid for Lombardy poplars and shrubbery used to beautify the newly constructed Ohio River Boulevard, Mrs. Elizabeth Walker Pontefract of Little Sewickley Creek Road made it her mission to remove political campaign posters and other advertisements that detracted from the roadside’s natural beauty. With the help of her chauffer and gardener, the Edgeworth society woman personally tore posters off utility poles and painted over messages painted onto rock outcroppings. During campaign seasons, posters reappeared as quickly as they were removed, making their removal a continuous battle of wills. In the ongoing feud with rock painters, Mrs. Pontefract and her chauffer planted poison ivy on the cliffs to discourage would be climbers. Active in promoting roadside beautification throughout the city of Pittsburgh, Allegheny County recognized Mrs. Pontefract’s efforts by naming a section of the Ohio River Boulevard near Glenfield “Pontefract Terrace” (1937). Mrs. Pontefract’s influence was such that it was only after her death (1948) that billboards began to appear on the boulevard. Her Poplar trees, which stood as sentinels along both sides of the roadway, were removed for a widening project a few years later.

To read more about the Ohio River Boulevard, visit:   http://bellacresborough.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/12/Ohio-River-Boulevard.pdf

To share stories & photos, contact:   history@bellacres.org