Whenever we travel to Pittsburgh, we always bring the dog, so I've had a chance to explore the many amazing parks in the city. I still insist Pittsburgh is one of the most exceptionally-beautiful American cities (yes, I've been to most) largely because of the green spaces. I wrote about the reclaimed park land on the Southside slopes last summer, and on this visit I spent a few hours in the Frick nature preserve marveling at the inexplicable fire hydrants sticking up through the forest floor. It is my understanding that the park began as a small preserve donated by a steel tycoon at the request of his daughter, but grew down towards Squirrel Hill with the reclamation of land that was once residential neighborhoods. Are the old-fashioned hydrants vestiges of the original neighborhood infrastructure?

Even if there's some less-romantic explanation, I see hope for my own city in these forests. I see abandoned, useless fire hydrants all over Detroit's prairies, and I hope that someday trees will grow around them somebody wandering trails among them will wonder what once stood there.

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