Fifth Avenue in 2001

Fifth Avenue

How things have changed in two decades! Fifth Avenue at the turn of our century was a busy and fairly low-class retail district, instead of the somewhat less busy but much tonier row of specialty boutiques it is now. Above, we look eastward toward the shiny new Lazarus department store, soon to go bust. At this point there were four department stores downtown, which proved to be about four more than the traffic could support. Below, the G. C. Murphy five-and-dime store, which proudly claimed to be the world’s largest variety store, and Candy-Rama, whose sign was probably bigger than the store itself. Note also the last incarnation of a hat shop (formerly Tucker & Tucker) that had been at the same location for decades.

Murphy’s
Fifth at Smithfield

One thing has not changed at all: Pittsburghers have always been inveterate jaywalkers. Note the crowds crossing before the light has changed.

Fifth Avenue, Kaufmann’s on left

On the left, Kaufmann’s, the biggest department store there ever was in Pittsburgh, with fourteen floors of everything. On the right, Lord & Taylor, which didn’t last very long here.

Old Pa Pitt has gone rummaging in old boxes of slides and binders of negatives, so you will see more of these old pictures over the next few weeks. The pictures in this article were taken with a pair of Communist cameras: a Soviet Zenit-B and an East German Praktiflex.

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