PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – In the eyes of Mayor Frank Rizzo, Philadelphia had one too many police departments.

The year was 1972 and Rizzo was ready to merge the Fairmount Park Police with the city force.

The distinctive park guards had seen over a century of service. They had patrolled the vast park on foot, horseback and even bicycles.

But as the mayor and former police commissioner saw it, a separate park unit was past its prime and too expensive. Traditionalists argued that the 560 member park police unit was a unique force for the largest urban park in America.

Rizzo prevailed and the colorful guard houses, some with rare hitching posts, became a part of Philadelphia history.