White Swan Park
Opened in July 1955, White Swan Park operated through 1989. The park was founded by Edward W. Kleeman, Margaret Todd Kleeman, and Roy Todd.
Edward W. Kleeman was born on July 3, 1906, in Spokane, Washington. He was the son of Karl and Louise Kleeman, German immigrants. Kleeman eventually ended up living in the Pittsburgh area, where he met Margaret Todd.
Margaret Todd and her brother Roy were born in Ohio in 1915 and 1916, respectively. They moved to Pittsburgh in 1929, just before the stock market collapse known as Black Tuesday. Within the following ten years, Edward and Margaret met while working as servers at a restaurant. They were married on May 24, 1939.
Edward and Roy became business partners eight years later when they began the process of opening the Pittsburgh Motel and the Crafton Diner, in Robinson Township in the west end of Pittsburgh. The diner was located in a separate building in front of the motel, which had a distinct U-shape.
In 1953, they sold their diner and hotel business and bought 40 acres of land which was developed into White Swan Park. The intention was to have swans on the lake in the park, which is where the name of the park comes from. However, swans were never purchased and put on the lake.
Edward W. Kleeman was co-owner of White Swan Park until his death in 1979.
The park was under constant threat of a limited highway being built on or adjacent to the park’s property. The park was located near Pittsburgh International Airport. In the 1955, the Pennsylvania Department of Highways tried to convert Pennsylvania Route 60 into a limited expressway, but this was blocked by locals who sued the department, including Edward Kleeman.
The park remained in operation for 35 seasons through 1989. A major expansion was coming to Pittsburgh International Airport, and with it, a push for better highways around the airport. In September 1989, it was announced that the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation purchased White Swan for $4.8 million, just after the end of the park’s season. The land was purchased for $3.76 million while the rides were purchased at just under $1 million.
However, this was drug out in lawsuits in 1990, because Todd and Kleeman believed the value of the park was too low. Eventually things were settled out of court, and the park’s value was raised to over $6 million.
The proposed highway was eventually built, in the first decade of the 2000s, over 15 years after the property was sold.