Panther Hollow Lake Through the Years

In honor of our (sold-out) presentation on Panther Hollow next Wednesday, we thought we’d look back at some images of Panther Hollow Lake throughout its history.  We had fun with some historic winter images back during the Snowpocalypse, but that didn’t exhaust our archives, so here are some more! 

(For those of you who didn’t get a chance to register for next week’s presentation before it filled up, we’ll post highlights afterwards in this space.  Plus, we’re planning two hands-on workshops this fall centered on watershed health.  One will teach you how to keep your yard watershed-healthy–including learning to build a rain garden–and the other will focus on stream bank improvements in Schenley Park.  Stay tuned for dates and how you can register!)

Thanks to Charlotte Cohen and Joe Natoli for the below images.  Click on the photos to see larger versions.

The postmark on this one is May 1909.  This meadow now has a lot more trees in it than it did back then!

Meadow postcard

This one makes it look like there was a tiny little island in the middle of the lake.


This one also looks like it was done before the boathouse was built.

Postcard pre-boathouse

Boating on Panther Hollow Lake looks like it was the fancy thing to do.

Panther Hollow Lake postcard

A major renovation ordered by Mayor David Lawrence began in 1957.

1957 renovation

Looks like there was some shoring up of the walls of the lake.

Renovation 1957

The lake filled in with some shrubbery before it was stocked with water once again.  This photo is dated 1959.

1959 growth

Then our photos jump to the early 1970s, when the lake was still a popular place for winter recreation.

Skating aerial 1971

Looks like the boathouse had gotten a little facelift, too.

Skating 1971

And finally, this must have been shortly before the boathouse was demolished in 1979.


Got any Panther Hollow memories?  Share them in the comments section below!

22 thoughts on “Panther Hollow Lake Through the Years

  1. I recall the ice skaters in the early 70’s though weak ankles prevented me from fully participating. The fireplaced worked in the boathouse and I remember the smell of the wood burning. I’ll have to look for some earlier photos of me about age 4 walking around the lake with my siblings. And I clearly recall catching crayfish in the stream just before entering the lake. Therre was a snapping turtle about the size of a football caught up by Westinghouse Pond too.

    • Best guess is that it just hadn’t gotten any real attention since the fix in the 50s, and since the stream channels were beginning to reroute themselves, more water was getting into the lake faster. Probably it’s pretty much the same thing that’s going on now. Stormwater impact going up while maintenance funds go down…

      That, or it was disco. The timing’s about right!

  2. My fraternity brothers and I used to trek down from N. Bellefield, pick out a corner of the lake, and play hockey back in the late sixties/early seventies – until one of the brothers broke his ankle! Then it was back to basketball.

  3. I learned to skate on Panther Hollow Lake in the 70s. I miss it. But crazy teenagers still play hockey there late at night when there’s been a deep freeze. 🙂

    Given the artificial nature of the pond, what kind of sustainable solution to the runoff is really feasible? Looking forward to hearing more about this over the coming weeks!

  4. I remember my dad took me down panther hollow and showed me some old war spots where they would hide….he knew all these weird little twists and turns off the trails with some really cool stuff back there, as the years past and i got older after my father passed i would go by myself and try to refind the places he showed me, but was only able to find one different place were someone had made chairs out of tree stumps, and looks like a little home back there……i have a question, my father had said panther hollow was given its name because long long ago panthers really lived down there….true? false?

  5. Growing up in Oakland in the 70’s, my friends and I fished at Panther Hollow Lake every chance we could. We’d look for discarded fishing line and a hook and we were ready to fish. Piles of leaves collected and dumped by Park employees near the overflow attracted the biggest night crawlers you’d ever see. Perfect for bait. Bluegill, bass, and sometimes a carp were par for the course. We has so much fun with so very little. Seeing these photos brings back a flood of memories.

  6. Back in the 50’s, I remember running up the hill with skates on because the Park Police drove down to throw us off the lake. They didn’t belong to the City Police at the time. Was the one place that Greenfield and Oakland could meet without any fights. Love those days

    Rich Williams

  7. I wish I still had a photo of myself ice skating at Panther Hollow. My father and my best girlfriend used to skate there in the early 60’s. The boat house used to have huge fireplaces….it was spectacular!!! I loved it.

  8. I could type all day but unless you lived during the 50’s, you could never know how great it was at the lake in the winter time. I wouldn’t have traded it for anything else in the world. We use to play war and used all of Schenley Park.Today your afraid to let you kid go more then 10 feet from the house. We were only 8,9 or 10 back then.

  9. In the early 1900’s there was an Italian commune. The women would get together to bake bread every Thursday.

    My grandfather raised cattle down there. Anyone could use the land. He lived on Parkview.

    Janet D.

    • Would like to know more about your grandfather who raised cattle in Panther Hollow. My grandmothers father had a dairy farm there. She delivered milk to the surrounding area during the depression. Had 11 brothers + sisters. My Dad was born there in 1929, then bought the property on the other side of the bridge. Moved to Childs St. around 1960.

      • His name was Frank Bailey. His grandfather had the company that made the fire hydrants for Pittsburgh. (His invention or design I think). The company was called Bailey-Farrell. My PapPap moved with his family to West Deer Township in 1941 and bought a farm. He was determined to always be able to provide for his family after living thru the depression. He kept 1200 chickens. He and my uncles gathered the eggs every Friday and packaged them all night to make a weekly trip into town on Saturdays to sell the eggs.

  10. I’m loving all the memories shared here…I grew up in Panther Hollow…couldn’t have asked for any place cooler than the Hollow…we did it all…hiked, fished, swim, ice skating….so many different things going one…what a great way to grow up…got a kick out of the comment on Greenfield and the Oakland gang…we were great together…no fights…well maybe some envy among the girls…there were some good looking guys up there!! I used to go up to my mom’s attic and look at the lake to see if it was ‘white’ yet…usually that meant it was frozen…we had some mean Winters then….loved ice skating and meeting up with my friends…great memories…♥

  11. I was going through some of my mom & dads photos and found some photos that they took of the lake and the bridge. They are fading and I have scanned them before they deteriorate any more. I remember my dad telling me stores of when he was growing up (circa 1920) he would ice skate on the Panther hollow lake and how he could do spins, jumps, skate on one leg. My mom said he was really good. He taught my sisters to skate and they taught me at the lake. I remember one time there was a small hole on the edge and I had to investigate it and my one leg went through it. Boy that was cold!

  12. During the 50’s we lived on Fifth Ave and my Mom would pack hot dogs , buns and juice and we would walk to the hollow. She would make a little fire and roast the dogs and my brother would fish and I would just play. Later on I used to go horseback riding in the park and by the lake when Oakland had a stable. Those were wonderful days.

  13. I remember in the late 80’s early 90’s walking up the tracks from upper greenfield with all of our equipment to play hockey.

  14. As a kid in the mid 80’s into the early 90’s this place was just FANTASTIC. I spent SO much time there.

    In the winters we would play hockey. In the summer we fished for blue gill and had contests to see who can catch the most. I lived across the street from Berman’s store so we would buy corn there and go down with line, hooks, and corn and catch them all day long. We would throw rocks at the tracks to make them spark. We had good friends who lived in The Hollow as well. I try to explain to people what it was like growing up in Oakland but words can’t do it any justice.

    I hope this gets restored and cleaned up. When I have kids I would love to take them there and fish, and play hockey. The memories that I have of that place are incredible. There is still plenty of room for more though!

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