Father Pitt

Why should the beautiful die?

Federal Building


In 1931 Andrew W. Mellon had been Secretary of the Treasury for ten years. He was one of the most powerful men in the world; they used to say that three presidents had served under him. This building was his gift to his native city, a reminder of his almost imperial power, and a perfect example of the architectural style Father Pitt likes to call American Fascist.

The word “fascist” comes from fasces, an ancient Roman symbol of authority. The fasces are a bundle of twigs with an axe in the middle. And here they are, right over the entrance, making this perhaps the only literally fascist building in Pittsburgh. [Update: This is far from true; once he started to look for them, old Pa Pitt found that fasces were quite common on government buildings before the Second World War.]


The Federal Building is a block and a half north on Grant Street from the Steel Plaza subway station.

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