Three Gateway Center

Three Gateway Center

Seen in 1999 from Equitable Plaza, which was in much better shape in those days.

PittsburghCemeteries.com and FloraPittsburghensis.com

Since these two sites see nearly as many visits as Father Pitt’s main site here, they deserve their own domain names. They have therefore moved to a snappy new server and been given a complete redesign—with, of course, a black-and-gold site logo for each to make sure you know where you are. The old addresses will continue to work indefinitely, but new content will appear at these new domains:

https://pittsburghcemeteries.com/

https://florapittsburghensis.com/

The new server will allow us to offer some features not available before—notably an alphabetical index for each site.

The Civic Arena

Civic Arena

It was already called the “Mellon Arena” by this time, which old Pa Pitt always thought was a perfect parable of what was happening to American public life at the end of the twentieth century: what was built by the people, and named for the people, was handed over to a big corporation. Most Pittsburghers don’t remember that this was actually built as the Civic Auditorium, a new home for the Civic Light Opera. Sports were secondary in the original plans.

The Civic Arena was never beautiful in Father Pitt’s eyes, but it was impressive. The huge retractable dome—the world’s first—looked like an alien spacecraft that had landed on the Lower Hill, demolishing all the houses and business and so forth, as alien spacecraft tend to do when they land, because apparently space aliens are jerks.

Huge retractable domes turn out to be a nightmare to maintain, and the dome stopped retracting several years before the Arena was abandoned.

Father Pitt will now take a moment to praise the little camera that took these pictures in May of 2000. It was a Smena 8M from the legendary Soviet Lomo camera works, a cheap plastic box with a very good lens. There was nothing automatic about it; it had manual adjustments for shutter speed, aperture, and focus, and countless great Russian photographers learned the basics on cheap but capable cameras like these. Father Pitt was not a great fan of the Soviet Union, but he has always had a soft spot for Soviet cameras.

Mellon Arena

Hawking Conspiracies on the South Side, 2000

Larouche supporter on the South Side

Father Pitt does not normally indulge in what they call “street photography,” but back in March of 2000 this scene seemed to invite a picture, and Pa Pitt’s faithful Argus C3 was in his hand.

Just think of all the things you will have to explain to your children or grandchildren (if available) about this picture. You will have to explain who Lyndon Larouche was, and that conspiracy theories like his were not part of mainstream American politics in those days. You will have to explain that this man is hawking things called newspapers, which were sort of like long-form Twitter. You will have to explain that those things on steel posts (the nearest one has been decapitated, which you will try to avoid explaining) were individualized parking kiosks, one for each parked car, which sounds like such a brilliant idea that it must be about time for a revival. You may even, if you are feeling brave, end up explaining the idea of creating photographs with light-sensitive chemicals.

1st Ave Lofts

1st Ave Lofts (Graphic Arts Building)

A dwarf skyscraper with the regulation base-shaft-cap formula, this elegantly simple commercial building was designed by Joseph F. Kuntz and finished in 1907. It used to be known as the Graphic Arts Building before it was turned into luxury apartments. Soon every building downtown will be luxury apartments, and all the commercial offices will have to move to the suburbs.