Tag: Carson Street

  • Restored Mid-Nineteenth-Century Commercial Building on Carson Street

    1610 East Carson Street

    We saw this old building (probably dating from the Civil War era or before) four years ago, when its modernist façade was being pulled off to reveal a middle-nineteenth-century commercial building behind it. Now the building is restored to something more like its original appearance, though the storefront entrance would have been inset by at least the width of the door to avoid hitting pedestrians in the face, something we have stopped caring about in our more enlightened era. (Note the position of the pedestrians in the picture below, and imagine someone leaving the building in a hurry.)

    Perspective view
  • Victorian Eclectic on Carson Street, South Side

    1710 East Carson Street

    This grand building from the 1880s towers over its lowlier neighbor with a Potemkin attic that has nothing behind it. The next generation of architects would cringe at the fussiness of the details, but they are harmonized well.

    Roof decoration

    Old maps show this building as owned by Mrs. M. A. Fuchs in 1890, and still owned by her in 1923.

  • Pair of Victorian Commercial Buildings on Carson Street, South Side

    Update: A kind correspondent corrects us: these are postmodern Victorian buildings designed by Gunther J. Kaier Architects, which earned the company that built them an award for fitting them so neatly into the streetscape. Father Pitt keeps the original text of the article below to point out how delightful it is to be wrong sometimes.

    These two Italianate buildings are alike in their decorative detailing, and at first glance we might take them for identical twins (discounting the altered ground floors). The one on the right, however, is wider by a small but significant amount. They were built in the 1880s, to judge by old maps, and they appear to have been separately owned from the beginning. The one on the left belonged to S. Bornshire in 1890, and still belonged to S. Bornshire thirty-three years later in 1923.

  • 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.