In Beechview, you always find a streetcar at the end of the rainbow.
At the End of the Rainbow
Apartment Building on Broadway, Dormont
Old Pa Pitt’s fascination with small apartment buildings is hard to explain, except that—as he has mentioned before—they often gave lesser architects a chance to execute unusual ideas. This building is made of very simple elements, but arranged in an unusual rhythm, the balconies forming strong verticals that are accented by brick projections at the roofline.
Christmas Wreath on Broadway
This is the time of year when neighborhood associations put up the Christmas decorations along the main business streets of every neighborhood. Here is one of the wreaths along Broadway in Beechview.
Ruth Apartments, Dormont
A small apartment building along the Red Line in Dormont, with some of the Spanish Mission details that were very popular in Dormont a century ago. It was also popular to give small apartment buildings women’s names; across the street are two very similar buildings named Thea and Esther.
Beechview at Night
A streetcar stop in a quiet residential neighborhood of Pittsburgh after dark.
Boylan Building, Beechview
The Boylan was one of Beechview’s first commercial buildings—storefronts on the ground floor, apartments above. Over the years it has had some alterations: the front bays have been shrouded in aluminum, the right-hand storefront was filled in by a contractor with more ambition than taste, and it may have lost a cornice. But the current owner has given us a good lesson in how to refresh a building with that kind of history without spending a lot of money. Fresh paint tastefully applied to pick out the details makes the building look inviting and minimizes the aesthetic damage of the altered storefront.
Corner Store in Beechview
Pittsburgh neighborhoods used to be full of little corner groceries. Most disappeared when big chain supermarkets took over the grocery trade. But occasionally a neighborhood store succeeds; this one in Beechview moved into a storefront that was vacant for some time and seems to be making a go of it.
Of course it used to be that your average corner grocery was only four or five steps from a streetcar line. That is no longer true in most places, but it is still true in Beechview.
Commercial Building in Beechview
This building sits at the complicated corner where Broadway, Hampshire Avenue, and Beechview Avenue come together. Except for the ground floor in the front, it has changed little since it was put up as one of the first commercial buildings in the neighborhood. For many years the fondly remembered Johns’ Drugs (the apostrophe could have gone either way, since the founder was John A. Johns) was here.
We mentioned “the ground floor in the front” because, like many Beechview buildings, this has ground floors on more than one level. On the Hampshire Avenue side is a little speakeasy in what would be the basement level if the ground were flat.
The street sign with “Hampshire St” is anomalous. The street is called “Hampshire Ave” on other signs, including the one across Broadway. Most streets are “avenues” in Beechview, even if the “avenue” is a concrete stairway.
Broadway Streetscape, Beechview
This view of the west side of Broadway in Beechview shows us a very Pittsburghish commercial district. The architecture is miscellaneous, including apartment buildings, commercial buildings, houses with storefront extensions, and tiny one-storey gap-filler storefronts. The street curves, so the buildings are not all perfectly rectangular. And of course this is Pittsburgh, so the whole row is on what in other cities would be called a steep slope, though in Pittsburgh we expect the Red Line streetcars to negotiate it.
Emerald Apartments, Beechview
Old Pa Pitt’s obsession with small apartment buildings continues. This one is on Broadway in Beechview. It seems to have been originally meant as an imitation of a Georgian mansion of the sort found in Annapolis or Williamsburg. It looks as though smaller windows have been installed, and the semicircle of bricks at the top of the central stairs might have been a “Palladian” window. In spite of alterations and repairs, though, it remains a pleasing and distinctive building.