Tag: Carson Street

  • Carson Street Side of the SouthSide Works

    Carson and 27th, SouthSide Works

    By most standards the SouthSide Works, by far the largest “new urban” development in Pittsburgh, has been a great success. The retail part of it, however, has had its ups and downs. It was planned with a focus on a “town square” a block away from Carson Street, with 27th Street as a line of shops linking Carson Street to the center of the new neighborhood, and then rows of smaller shops here along Carson Street, the back side of the development. What happened might have been predicted by a good urban planner: the part of the development that continued the well-established Carson Street business district flourished and remained mostly occupied, spilling its prosperity across the street to previously empty storefronts and triggering new construction; meanwhile, the “town square,” after an initial burst of success, languished, with many large storefronts empty. Now the square has filled up again, and we shall see where the cycle takes us from here.

    Architecturally, the Carson Street side of the development is again a success. It may not be inspired architecture, but it does its job of fitting with the established architectural traditions of the South Side and visually connecting itself with the rest of the Carson Street business district. Father Pitt might point out, however, that some of the materials—metal facings of buildings, for example—are beginning to look a bit bedraggled already. The parts faced in brick, however, are not. This may serve as a lesson to young architects: brick lasts.

  • A Riot of Victorian Detail

    Commercial building at 1805 East Carson Street

    We’ve seen this exuberantly Victorian building on Carson Street before. It is one of the few relatively unmutilated survivors of the style that was common for commercial buildings in the 1870s and 1880s, so old Pa Pitt got out a long lens to appreciate some of the details.

    Top of the building
    A different finial
    Carved ornament
    Two carved ornaments
    Angular ornamebt
  • Commercial Building by Frederick Sauer, South Side

    1831 East Carson Street

    What do St. Stanislaus Kostka, St. Mary of the Mount, St. Stephen’s in Hazelwood, a chicken coop turned into an apartment building in Aspinwall, and an empty restaurant on the South Side have in common? The buildings were all designed by Frederick Sauer, who was a genius at ecclesiastical architecture but had to make most of his living designing houses and small commercial buildings for the middle classes. This building was put up in about 1911,1 and we can’t say that it’s a work of towering genius. But Sauer does manage to filter the expected Pittsburghish details through an angular modernism that gives the building a distinctive style. This is how a good architect makes a good living: by taking small jobs as well as big ones, and doing good work for all his clients.

    Building by Frederick C. Sauer
    1. From the Construction Record, September 24, 1910: “Architect F. C. Sauer, 804 Penn avenue is taking bids on constructing a three-story brick store and office building on Nineteenth and Carson streets Southside, for Henry F. Hager, 144 Twenty-fourth street, Southside.” Hager is shown as the owner on a 1923 map. ↩︎
  • The Corner of Carson and 24th, South Side

    Building at Carson and 24th, South Side

    For most of the history of the South Side, this corner at 24th and Carson was the gateway to the long Carson Street retail district. Further out there were a few shops and (especially) bars, but the looming mass of the steel mill dominated the streetscape. Now, of course, the SouthSide Works (spelled with internal capital, which is not old Pa Pitt’s fault) development that replaced the mill has extended the retail district by several more blocks, but this building still marks an obvious break between the new and the old.

    The rounded corner is distinctive and emphasizes the building’s function as a gateway. The proper inset entrance not only makes the storefront look characteristically Victorian, but also still fulfills its purpose of not hitting pedestrians in the face with a swinging door—a purpose we have unaccountably forgotten in our modern storefronts. One would think a few lawsuits by pedestrians with broken noses would establish a design precedent, but apparently that has not happened.

    Storefronts on Carson Street
  • Peoples Trust Company of Pittsburgh at Twilight

    Peoples Trust Company of Pittsburgh

    This rich little Beaux-Arts bank on Carson Street at 18th Street was built in 1902. We have a daylight picture of the Peoples Trust Company of Pittsburgh building from the same angle.

  • Row of Commercial Buildings, Carson Street at 23rd, South Side

    Seen from the Birmingham Bridge, this row of Italianate storefronts retains most of its Victorian magnificence, although the newer windows blight the one on the end.

  • Pittsburgh Terminal Warehouse & Transfer Company, South Side

    Terminal Way

    Now called “The Highline,” the Pittsburgh Terminal Warehouse and Transfer Company was one of the largest commercial buildings in the world when it was finished in 1906. The architect was the prolific Charles Bickel, who gave us a very respectable version of Romanesque-classical commercial architecture on a huge scale.

    The building was planned in 1898, but it took several years of wrangling and special legislation to clear three city blocks and rearrange the streets to accommodate the enormous structure. Its most distinctive feature is a street, Terminal Way, that runs right down the middle of the building at the third-floor level: as you can see above, it has now been remade into a pleasant outdoor pedestrian space. You can’t tell from the picture above, but there is more building underneath the street.

    Pittsburgh Terminal Warehouse & Transfer Company from the river side

    The bridge coming out across the railroad tracks is the continuation of Terminal Way, which comes right to the edge of the Monongahela, where the power plant for the complex was built.

    The reason for the complex is more obvious from this angle. Railroad cars came right into the building on the lowest level to unload.

    Track No. 5

    It also had access to the river, and road access to Carson Street at the other end. Every form of transportation came together here for exchange and distribution.

    McKean Street

    McKean Street separates the main part of the complex from the Carson Street side; Terminal Way passes over it on a bridge.

    Fourth Street

    The Fourth Street side shows us the full height of the building. Fourth Street itself is still Belgian block.

    Terminal Way

    A view over the McKean Street bridge and down Terminal Way from the Carson Street end.

    Narrow outbuilding

    This absurdly narrow building is on the Carson Street side of the complex; it has usually housed a small restaurant of some sort. One suspects that this was the result of some kind of political wrangling that ended in a ridiculously small space on this side of Terminal Way between Carson and McKean Streets.

    Power plant

    The power plant for the complex, seen above from the Terminal Way bridge across the railroad. It could use some taking care of right now.

    Power plant
    Pittsburgh Terminal Warehouse & Transfer Company

    This view of the complex from the hill above Carson Street was published in 1911 as an advertisement for cork from the Armstrong Cork Company.

  • Seventeenth Ward World War I Memorial, South Side


    This little memorial sits at the corner of Carson and Tenth Streets, the intersection that is more or less the gateway to the South Side proper. Most people pass by without noticing it, so old Pa Pitt decided to document it in detail.

    Frank Aretz, best known for his ecclesiastical art, did the small Art Deco relief, according to a plaque installed by the city on this memorial. The architect was Stanley Roush, the king of public works in Pittsburgh in the 1920s and 1930s. Donatelli Granite, still in the memorial business, did the stonework.

    Seventeenth Ward War Memorial

    The left and right steles bear the names of battlefields where Americans fought.


    Many war memorials display the names of those who served, but this one sealed the names in stone for future generations to discover.

    Face of the relief

    The relief has been eroding and perhaps vandalized, but the streamlined Art Deco style is still distinctive.

    Bust of the relief
    Seventeenth Ward War Memorial
  • Pittsburgh Mercantile Company, South Side

    Heads on the Pittsburgh Mercantile Company Building

    Designed by Rutan & Russell, the Pittsburgh Mercantile Company was definitely not a company store, because those had been made illegal in Pennsylvania. Instead, it was a separate company that happened to have exactly the same officers as Jones & Laughlin, which ran the steel plant across the street, and that happened to accept the scrip in which the steelworkers were paid.

    So it was a company store, but technically legal.

    The words “company store” probably conjure up images of bleak little Soviet-style general stores, but this was obviously nothing like that image. It was a fantastic palace of every kind of merchandise, and the architectural decoration was obviously meant to send the message that there was no reason to object to the company-store system, because what else on the South Side could begin to equal this experience?

    The building

    We have a large number of pictures if you care to see more.

  • An Evening Stroll on Carson Street, South Side