Father Pitt

Why should the beautiful die?

G. C. Murphy Buildings

G. C. Murphy buildings

It called itself “the world’s largest variety store,” and it was probably right about that. G. C. Murphy was a big chain of five-and-dime stores based in McKeesport, but the downtown Pittsburgh store was its biggest and most exciting. It had three floors of everything, including concessions rented out to everything from produce vendors to fortune tellers. The whole establishment occupied the corner of Forbes Avenue and the Diamond and went through the block to Fifth Avenue.

The chain succumbed to corporate raiders in the 1980s, who exploited quirks of capitalist logic by driving the chain into bankruptcy and getting rich in the process. The downtown store contracted into a small part of its former empire, and then closed altogether.

For a while the buildings sat empty. Now they have been restored to beautiful condition, and the Diamond is thriving again. Old Pa Pitt wishes he could have Murphy’s back, but time like an ever-rolling stream and all that.

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