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.
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.
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.
The rooftops of Polish Hill silhouetted in the sunset. In the background, the domes of Immaculate Heart of Mary Church.