Category: Strip

  • 31st Street, Strip

    Under the 31st Street Bridge

    Here is one of two streets in the Strip that exist mostly under bridges. Two blocks away, 33rd Street is entirely under a railroad bridge.

  • Springfield Public School, Strip

    Springfield Public School

    The Springfield Public School, built in 1871, closed as a school in 1934, which was 89 years ago as Father Pitt is writing. It was preserved because it was useful as a warehouse in the increasingly industrializing Strip. Later it became loft apartments, and is now being sold as luxury condos.

    Date stone

    The architect was T. D. Evans, about whom old Pa Pitt knows nothing except that he designed the very similar (though more elaborate) Morse School on the South Side. Compare the two buildings: the Morse School is a little larger, but built on almost exactly the same plan.

    Oblique view

    Springfield Public School.

    Morse School

    Morse School. Father Pitt guesses that the tower in the center of both buildings was a belfry.

    Springfield Public School

    If you buy an apartment in the Springfield Public School, you don’t have to walk far to find delicious Asian food of all sorts.

  • Black Diamond Steel Works Office, Strip

    Black Diamond Steel Works Office

    Right now, if you’re quick about it, you can buy this beautiful and historic building that probably dates from the 1870s. It was the office of the Park Brothers’ Black Diamond Steel Works, later Crucible Steel.

    Decorative carving

    This cheery decorative carving is in a style that was common in the 1870s; it may be by the same craftsman who did the decorations on the Springfield Public School (1871) a block away.

    Oblique view

    A map showing the location of the building.

  • Bair & Gazzam Building, Strip

    Bair and Gazzam Building, Strip

    A dignified industrial building now converted to loft apartments. It was built in the 1890s as a machine shop for the Bair & Gazzam Manufacturing Company, and by 1910 it belonged to the Ruud Manufacturing Company, makers of those marvelous automatic water heaters. The style is very much in line with the industrial Romanesque that was popular in the late 1800s; but if we look carefully at the arches on the ground floor, we notice that they are very subtly pointed.

    Father Pitt does not know the whole history of this building, but it looks as though the top two floors were a later addition.

    From the Hill
    Bair and Gazzam Building
  • Armstrong Cork Factory in 2000

    Broken windows, graffiti, piles of rubbish, trees growing from the roof—this is how the Armstrong Cork Factory looked two decades ago, when architectural historians wondered whether it could be saved. It’s a fine piece of industrial architecture by Frederick Osterling, and it was turned into luxury riverfront apartments in 2007. The success of that venture proved that there was a market for loft apartments in vacant landmarks, with the result that dozens of substantial buildings in the city have been similarly adapted since then.

    This picture was taken with a Lomo Smena 8M.

  • Warehouse on Smallman Street, Strip


    This old warehouse has seen some alterations of its details, but the lines remain basically the same. Note that even a utilitarian building like this sprouts a splendid cornice at the top.

  • Smallman Street

    Smallman Street

    Smallman Street in the Strip changes over time, but it keeps its traditional link with the food business. The Strip became the wholesale-food district because the Pennsylvania Railroad unloaded the culinary treasures of the earth here. Today those treasures arrive mostly by truck.

    The glory of Smallman Street is the broad plaza from 16th to 21st Streets, leading to St. Stanislaus Kostka, the mother church of Polish Catholicism in Pittsburgh, and one of Frederick Sauer’s most distinguished works.

    Smallman Street
  • Sixteenth Street Bridge

    Sixteenth Street Bridge

    The architectural aspects of the Sixteenth Street Bridge, now named for David McCullough, were designed by Warren and Wetmore, the architects of Grand Central Station in New York.

  • St. Elizabeth’s, Strip District

    St. Elizabeth’s

    The Strip was once a densely populated immigrant neighborhood, and until 1993 there were three Catholic churches within five blocks—an Irish one (St. Patrick’s), a Polish one (St. Stanislaus Kostka), and this Slovak church. By 1993 hardly anyone lived in the Strip, and in the parish consolidations this church was closed. After a few vacant years it became a night club. Then it became a church again: now it belongs to Orchard Hill Church. In a way this new ownership continues both strands of the building’s history: Orchard Hill is the kind of nondenominational church where worship is a stage show with a band.

    St. Elizabeth’s
  • 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.