Category: South Side Slopes

  • Frame House on the South Side Slopes

    A good example of how a frame house can be restored to look very attractive without breaking the bank. The most important thing is to preserve the trim if at all possible, or to substitute new trim that has the same proportions as the old. This house in what we might call vernacular Second-Empire style is on Pius Street.

  • St. Michael’s Mädchen Schule, South Side Slopes

    St. Michael’s Mädchen Schule

    Like many ethnic churches, St. Michael’s, a German Catholic church on the South Side Slopes, was the center of a whole village of ethnic institutions. This was a German girls’ school. The building will eventually disappear, but it has sat in this decrepit state for many years now. You can find photographs on line of the wreckage of the once-magnificent interior; old Pa Pitt is not enough of an urban adventurer to risk trespassing charges and serious injury to bring you such pictures himself.

    St. Michael’s Girls’ School

    Perhaps in an expensive neighborhood this building would find a use, but this neighborhood is not likely to become expensive enough to repay the several million dollars it would probably cost to rescue a school of this size.

    Entrance
    Inscription
    St. Michael’s Girls’ School

    Curiously, the girl’s school was much larger and more magnificent than the boys’ school. That building, next door, was clumsily and unsympathetically converted to apartments some years ago; the conversion itself is already showing its age.

    St. Michael’s Boys’ School
    St. Michael’s Boys’ School.
  • Stairway to the Slopes

    This stairway at the end of 15th Street, South Side, takes pedestrians up to a bridge over the railroad, and then to a stairway up into the South Side Slopes.

  • St. Michael’s Church and Rectory, South Side Slopes

    St. Michael‘s Church

    St. Michael’s is one of our earliest grand Romanesque churches, finished in 1861. It was designed for a German congregation by the German-born Charles F. Bartberger, who gave us a number of other distinguished ecclesiastical buildings. (He is often confused with Charles M. Bartberger, his son, who gave us a number of distinguished schools.) It was one of the first churches around here to be made into condominium apartments, so it is now preserved as the Angel’s Arms.

    Tower

    It was a rainy day today, and if you enlarge the picture you can pick out the falling raindrops.

    Door

    Note the date over this side door.

    Rectory from the front

    The rectory, which is attached to the eastern end of the church, was built in 1890 and designed by another distinguished German Pittsburgh architect: Frederick Sauer, who gave us many fine churches and the whimsical Sauer Buildings in Aspinwall. Here he has created a very German Romanesque building that harmonizes well with the older church.

    Rectory from the east
    Dome

    A very German corner dome.

    Foliage

    Exceptionally fine carved foliage at the entrance to the rectory.

  • Liberty Hall, South Side

    Old Pa Pitt would be delighted if someone could tell him something of the history of this building. He knows that it was put up in 1921, because the date is proudly displayed at the top of the building. He suspects, from the look of the building and from some random chatter on the Internet, that it was an ethnic club, possibly Serbian—but that is speculation. Technically it is on the Slopes side of the railroad that separates the South Side Flats from the South Side Slopes, but this lower part of the Slopes seems to be socially more connected to the East European Flats than to the German streets above. About fifteen years ago, Liberty Hall was briefly a nightclub; it closed in less than a year, and neighbors rallied to prevent it from opening again. And that is all Father Pitt knows, so he would be happy to hear from someone better informed.

  • 16th Street, South Side

    South 16th Street

    Looking south on South 16th Street toward the South Side Slopes. Note the large number of aluminum awnings, which used to be even more ubiquitous in Pittsburgh; the back streets of Old Birmingham are the best place to see them now.

  • Kosciusko Way, South Side Slopes

    Kosciusko Way, apparently named for the famous Polish hero of the Revolutionary War, is a narrow and crowded street that makes a brave attempt to go straight up from Josephine Street into the South Side Slopes, but makes it only a block before being utterly defeated by topography.

    Map

  • Eleanor Street, South Side Slopes

    One of Pittsburgh’s distinctive features is the huge number of public stairways. Many streets that appear on maps are actually stairways, like Eleanor Street here. In the early days of GPS navigation, trip instructions would often send drivers up or down these streets; but most GPS systems have now learned to recognize the streets that can accommodate pedestrians only.

    And bicycle cops. To be a Pittsburgh bicycle cop, you have to be able to ride down one of these stairways. If you are still alive at the bottom of it, you’re qualified.


    Map

    Open Street Map does a good job of showing the public stairways on the South Side Slopes. All the denser red dotted lines are stairways. The narrower, sparser dotted lines are walkways.

  • Terraced Streets on the South Side Slopes

    Some neighborhoods are so steep that the only way to build a street parallel to the slope is to do it in two parts. These two streets on the South Side Slopes are on the list of Pittsburgh History and Landmarks Foundation historic landmarks, but they are not the only terraced streets in the city. The same thing happens in Beechview, for example, another neighborhood laid out in defiance of topography. Above is Stella Street; below, Shelly Street.

    Map

  • Greeley Street

    It is utterly absurd that anyone would think of running a street up into this deep and narrow ravine cut into the South Side Slopes; but this is Pittsburgh, and we make absurd adaptations to an absurd topography. How long before those enthusiastic wild grapes swallow those helpless little frame houses?


    Map