Phillips Park Traction Park
From Carrick-Overbrook Historical Society
The street railway was looking to increase ridership during weekends and evenings. The Suburban Rapid Transit Railway Co. leased a 35-acre portion of the Coffie Estate, a particular piece of the land known as "Dilly's Grove" which had been the site for picnics held by local farmers. The shady picnic grove was expanded to include entertainment areas and mechanical amusements. From Pittsburgh Railways documents, this work was all done in 1902:
Dancing Pavilion including all permanent fixtures - $ 3350.
Refreshment stand - $ 1006.
New dining hall and kitchen - $ 598.
Old dining hall improvements - $ 124.
Refreshment stand and kitchen - $ 819.
Bowling alley - $ 347.
Boiler and engine room - $ 70.
Merry-go-round building including wooden animals and machinery - $ 686.
According to the Pittsburgh Leader newspaper, a shooting gallery, theater, photographic gallery, "old mill" boat ride and athletic field were added through 1905. In 1905, a pony track and monkey den was added and improved walkways, landscaping and new entry. The proposed streetcar spur into the park was never added.
The tract was called Dilly's Grove, Southern Park, Carrick Park and finally Phillips Park named after John MacFarlane Phillips who organized the first Boy Scout Troop in Pennsylvania. He was a Pittsburgh businessman and prominent naturalist who wanted to make the abandoned property a permanent public park. Mrs. Coffie who held the lease had moved from her farm in Saw Mill Run Valley to Philadelphia. She agreed it would be an asset to the community and offered the property for $ 30,000. Carrick taxpayers did not want to be assessed for the cost of the park because it was still a rural area with lots of open space all around. Phillips campaigned hard and finally convinced council to approve it. In October 1913, 20 acres were purchased for $ 29,016.
All the old amusements were removed and hundreds of trees planted. Phillips used his own money to fund a good portion of the work including the over-run costs for the new 40'x80 'swimming pool. The park was dedicated on July 4th, 1914 in his name.