Category: North Side

  • Carnegie Science Center

    The Carnegie Science Center was designed by Tasso Katselas, and in Father Pitt’s opinion the design worked very well for its intended purposes. It had to be flexible enough to house many different kinds of exhibitions. It had to look sciencey. Most important, it had to enthrall children. It does all those things. Old Pa Pitt would never pick this as the most beautiful building on the North Side, but it has been a favorite destination for a generation of Pittsburgh children, many of whom have actually walked out better educated than they were when they walked in.

  • Allegheny City Electric Station

    Allegheny City Electric Station

    In 1889 the whole idea of a power station was new. What should it look like? Obviously it should be elegantly proportioned, because we don’t want to give the neighbors any more reason than they already have to object to the death rays we’ll be generating in there. Thus this fine example of Victorian industrial architecture, which old Pa Pitt believes was Allegheny’s first power station, and which still stands with not too many alterations just off Brighton Road on what is now for some reason called Riversea Road, though it has previously been Braddock Street and then Brocket Street.

    Date Stone

    Once there was an elegantly arched entrance, which has been replaced by a wider commercial garage door. The date is still prominent in the keystone of the arch.

    A few years later, a new building was added in quite a different style:

    Irwin Avenue substation

    This one still belongs to Duquesne Light and is still called the Irwin Avenue Substation, in spite of the fact that Irwin Avenue has been Brighton Road for many years now. The style is impossible to pin down: the tall rounded arches and flared buttresses make us think of a Norman castle, and the pointed Tudor arch in the middle makes us think of a Norman castle that had passed into the hands of an Elizabethan landowner who placed more value on being able to drive a showy carriage through his gate than being able to defend his castle.

  • Fifth United Presbyterian Church, California-Kirkbride

    Fifth United Presbyterian Church

    Here is another one of those churches with the sanctuary upstairs, which have become one of old Pa Pitt’s small obsessions. This is quite typical of its time: it was built in 1870, and it has all the usual marks of the typical Pittsburgh smaller church: the shallow-pitched roof, the walls divided into sections by simple pilasters, the date stone in the gable, the crenellations. It now belongs to Northside Common Ministries.

    Date stone, 1870
    Front of the church
    Fifth U. P. Church
  • Acrisure Stadium

    Acrisure Stadium

    The Steelers’ and Panthers’ stadium now bears an even more poetic name than “Heinz Field.”

    Acrisure Stadium sign
  • Lake Elizabeth

    West Park, Pittsburgh

    The lake in West Park on the North Side, from a negative taken in 1999.

  • Point Fountain and Heinz Field

  • St. Leo’s, Marshall-Shadeland

    St. Leo’s

    If he had known that the church would be demolished the next year, Father Pitt would have been more careful to document it. As it is, he happened to be passing in 2001 with one of his many odd old cameras, and he decided to take this quick picture before rolling on. The architect was probably John T. Comès, who gave this German congregation an Italian Romanesque church, because why not?

    The church had been vacant for several years when the Sisters of Divine Providence demolished it and built a new Family Support Center. The front of that building bears a mural with a picture of St. Leo’s in it.

  • Allegheny General Hospital

    Allegheny General Hospital

    An Art Deco interpretation of the skyscraper style old Pa Pitt calls “Mausoleum-on-a-Stick,” in which the cap of the skyscraper is patterned after the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus. The architects, York & Sawyer, seem to have been taken with the style; they designed another Mausoleum-on-a-Stick building in the same year (1926) for Montreal. You can see a picture of it in one of old Pa Pitt’s earlier articles on Allegheny General Hospital.

    The original skyscraper hospital was a marvel of practical hospital design. Everything radiates from a central core of elevators, and nothing is more than a few steps from the elevator. Later the hospital was expanded with new buildings in wildly mismatched styles, so that the complex has become the hopeless jungle of dead-end corridors and mismatched floors usual in big-city hospitals.

  • Allegheny Center

    Allegheny Center

    The curious urban clutter of Allegheny Center, a grand plan to build a completely new urban center for the North Side that, like most such plans from the 1960s, had at best only partial success. It destroyed almost the entire core of the old city of Allegheny, replacing it with modernist blocks and apartment warehouses. The clock tower at middle left marks the old Allegheny branch of the Carnegie Library, which stands at the end of a row of buildings preserved amidst the destruction. In the foreground, some of the millionaires’ mansions of Allegheny West.

  • What’s Left of the Manchester Bridge

    The Manchester Bridge connected the Point with the North Side until 1969. When it was taken down, it left one looming black stone pier on the North Shore. After it had loomed for decades, architect Lou Astorino came up with the idea of transforming it into a memorial for Fred Rogers, with a colossal statue by Robert Berks framed by an oval cutout. Here we see the pier from across the river in Point Park.