Category: Polish Hill

  • Sunset on Polish Hill

    Sunset behind the domes of Immaculate Heart of Mary

    The domes of Immaculate Heart of Mary Church. The picture was taken more than twenty years ago, but the view would be the same today if we could arrange the same sunset.

  • Rooftops of Polish Hill

  • Filling a Gap on Polish Hill

    Gap filler

    This odd little improvised structure has a strange charm for old Pa Pitt. It sits on Brereton Street, the spine of Polish Hill, and fills a gap between buildings that may have been left by the burning or destruction of a more substantial building. Clearly this thing has been here for a while, and the owner, who can do nothing to prevent the sagging (which only adds to the charm), has chosen a cheerful and decorative paint scheme.

  • Immaculate Heart of Mary, Polish Hill

    Immaculate Heart of Mary

    William P. Ginther, an Akron-based architect who also gave us St. Mary’s in McKees Rocks, designed this magnificent church, but much of the labor was done by the Polish railroad workers who formed the congregation. The design is inspired by St. Peter’s in Rome; this church isn’t quite on that scale, but it certainly dominates the neighborhood, and it would make a fine cathedral.

    Immaculate Heart of Mary
  • Commercial Buildings on Brereton Street, Polish Hill

    Buildings on Brereton Street

    A pair of nicely restored buildings in what was once the commercial heart of Polish Hill. Note that the basement of one is on the same level as the storefront in the building next to it.

  • Brereton Street, Polish Hill

    Brereton Street

    Brereton Street was the commercial spine of Polish Hill. A few businesses still straggle along here, and the streetscape itself is one of those only-in-Pittsburgh sights: tall, narrow little buildings crowded on an improbably steep hillside, leading to a massive Renaissance church the size of a cathedral—Immaculate Heart of Mary.

    Brereton street
  • 31st Street Bridge

    31st Street Bridge

    In order to line up with the street grid of the Strip, the 31st Street Bridge has an odd kink at the south end. Here we see it from Wiggins Street, Polish Hill.

  • Sunset in Polish Hill

    A view across the rooftops, with the domes of Immaculate Heart of Mary in the background. The picture was taken twenty years ago, but this view has changed very little.

  • Polish Hill

    Immaculate Heart of Mary Church, built by Polish railroad workers in their meager time off from work, presides over the vertiginous neighborhood of Polish Hill. This view was taken from across the Allegheny on the Herr’s Island railroad bridge, now part of a bicycle trail.

    Camera: Konica Minolta DiMAGE Z3.
  • Immaculate Heart of Mary, Polish Hill

    Click on the picture to enlarge it.

    It is impossible to get a good picture of Immaculate Heart of Mary without a forest of cables in front of it. But part of the magnificence of the building is the way it rises up from an impossibly cramped and sloping lot in a crowded hillside neighborhood; it is more impressive because it can never be seen all at once.

    The madly ambitious Polish railroad workers who built this church with their own hands chose a design that intentionally resembles St. Peter’s in Rome. The rest of the neighborhood is still modest and picturesquely shabby, but Immaculate Heart of Mary is a building that could easily pass for a cathedral.