Category: Oakland

  • Decorations on the Central Turnverein


    Now the Gardner Steel Conference Center, the Central Turnverein was German Pittsburgh’s most elegant athletic club. The building is an extraordinary early-modern design by Kiehnel and Elliott, and they trimmed it with geometric decorations inspired by the latest Jugendstil architecture overseas.

    Central Turnverein
    Window frames
    Another rectangle
  • Cathedral of Learning from Lytton Avenue

  • Litchfield Towers on a Rainy Day

    Litchfield Towers

    Ajax, Bab-O, and Comet looking a bit wet.

  • Soldiers and Sailors Hall, Oakland

  • “Parade Rest” and “The Lookout”

    Parade Rest
    Face of Parade Rest

    The soldier and the sailor who guard the entrance to Soldiers and Sailors Hall, by sculptor Frederick Hibbard. They were installed in 1923, one hundred years ago.

    Face of the Lookout
    The Lookout
  • The Schenley, Newly Built

    From Our Cities, Picturesque and Commercial, a souvenir book of Pittsburgh and Allegheny published in 1898, the year the Hotel Schenley was built. Except for the sensitively matched addition in the front and the loss of the cornice, the building looks much the same today.

    Note the big expanse of nothing on the hill to the right. That was still open land belonging to Mary Schenley when the hotel was built.

  • Hotel Schenley Advertisement from 1929

    Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, January 29, 1929, page 10. Note the exaggerated height; compare it to the proportions in old Pa Pitt’s pictures.

  • Hotel Schenley, Oakland

    This picture reminded old Pa Pitt of an old postcard, so he rendered it in two colors to make it look even more like an old postcard. The rest of the pictures in the article are in natural colors.

    Designed by Rutan & Russell, this was our first skyscraper hotel, and the most luxurious hotel in the city when it went up in 1898—at a time when it was actually at the edge of the urbanized area. It remained the Pittsburgh base of the rich and famous for half a century, but it declined after the Second World War, and in 1956 was sold to Pitt. It is now the William Pitt Union, with many of the exterior and interior details scrupulously preserved.

    Corner view
    Side, from Soldiers and Sailors Hall
    Hotel Schenley
    The same as the first picture, but in natural colors.

    Addendum: See a picture of the Hotel Schenley in 1898, the year it was built.

  • America by Charles Keck

    America, by Charles Keck

    Charles Keck was a very successful sculptor who had a fruitful relationship with the architect Henry Hornbostel. He decorated the City-County Building, Pennsylvania Hall at Pitt, the Education Building in Albany, and the City Hall in that other Oakland, the one in California, all of them buildings by Hornbostel. He was a natural choice for this allegorical sculpture over the entrance to Soldiers and Sailors Hall, whose message seems to be that America is always ready, so don’t mess with her.

    Hands grasping the hilt of the sword

    Note the large eyes. They may be inspired by late-antique sculpture, in which the eyes are usually disproportionately big. In a sculpture meant to be seen from a distance, the disproportion is not obvious at normal viewing range, but the large eyes give expression to the face that it would not have if they were natural size.

    Full statue
  • Western Psychiatric Institute, Oakland

    Western Psychiatric Institute
    This picture is very large: if you click or tap on it, expect 12 megabytes of data and about 50 megapixels.

    It is not possible to get a straight-on picture of the whole front of this Art Deco skyscraper hospital. But old Pa Pitt enjoys attempting the impossible once in a while, so here you go. The architect was Raymond Marlier, who also designed several of the buildings at Kennywood. (Kennywood, Western Psych—pretty much the same thing.) The building was completed in 1940.

    Below, we see a side view made possible by the demolition of two Brutalist buildings on O’Hara Street. It shows how much Pitt has added to the original building. The whole thing is now called Thomas Detre Hall.

    Side view