Father Pitt

Why should the beautiful die?

The Vanishing Black Stones of Pittsburgh

Black tower

Pittsburgh used to be a city of massive black stone buildings. In a few years, perhaps, they will all have disappeared–not torn down, but cleaned of the soot deposits from decades of heavy industry. When the mills died and the cleanings began, it came as a surprise to many Pittsburghers that the uniquely Pittsburghish black stones they had known all their lives were, underneath it all, quite pale and ordinary-looking, almost like the stones in every other city. Experts say that the pollutants eat away at the stones, so I suppose the cleanings are necessary; but I miss those black stones. Albright Community United Methodist Church on Centre Avenue in Shadyside has not been cleaned yet; this is its tower, still gloriously black, though not as inky black as it was at the peak of the steel industry.

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