Forever overshadowed by its taller neighbor the Frick Building, the Allegheny Building, built in 1906, is also by Daniel Burnham, and also a Frick project. It is one of his spare, almost modernistic designs, and it is fascinating to see how well the classical vocabulary adapts to twentieth-century simplicity.
242 Fifth Avenue
This ostentatious little building on Fifth Avenue is in need of some restoration. Something could be done with the ground floor to make it more in sympathy with the upper storeys without spending the immense fortune it would probably take to recreate the original classical front. Even a simple modernist glass front would be more harmonious.
Union National Bank Building
The Clark Building, designed by the Hoffman-Henon Co of Philadelphia, was built in 1927 at the same time as the Stanley Theater by the same architects. This late-Beaux-Arts skyscraper has for a long time been the center of the jewelry district downtown, with at least a dozen jewelers in the building (“over thirteen,” a sign on the building says, meaning, what, fourteen?) and more within a block or so.
The Mellon Institute
Benno Janssen, whose many designs helped define the Oakland Civic Center, created perhaps his most monumental work here. The huge columns are cut from single pieces of stone—the largest monolithic columns in the history of the world. And Father Pitt, through the magic of computer stitching software, brings you perhaps the only complete face-on photo of the block-long Fifth Avenue façade on the entire Internet. Below, a picture from the corner of Bellefield and Fifth.
One of the first great silent movie palaces (the old Loew’s Penn) to be turned into a concert hall, Heinz Hall set a trend, both here and elsewhere. With the old Stanley and Fulton (now the Benedum and Byham), it is one of the three large anchors of the theater district downtown.
Now the University of Pittsburgh’s Alumni Hall, this grand temple was designed by Benno Janssen, who gave us many other Pittsburgh monuments, including the Pittsburgh Athletic Association next door.
Thousands of commuters pass the little shelter on Fifth Avenue just east of the Highland Avenue intersection every day, but how many ever give it a second glance? Perhaps it was an especially luxurious trolley shelter, suitable to its rich neighborhood, or just a decoration for the expensive condominiums above it.
But in fact it was a public spring, of which Pittsburgh has more than one. The water no longer flows from this one, but the little Greek temple remains, and perhaps the nymph of the spring still weeps occasionally for her lost worshipers. The current structure, built in 1912, was designed by W. H. Van Tine; it replaced one by Alden & Harlow that had been destroyed by the city, causing, according to the Wikipedia article, a monumental stink.
Wood Street Station
The Wood Street subway station and the Wood Street Galleries occupy the old Monongahela National Bank building, one of the many peculiarly shaped buildings along Liberty Avenue where the two grids collide in the John Woods street plan from 1784. This one is a right triangle.
The picture is a composite, and if you click on it to enlarge it, you can have fun pointing out several ghosts among the people waiting for buses outside the station.
The Diamond Building is by MacClure and Spahr, who skillfully met the challenge of a dauntingly irregular site by filling it with a building that looks as if it’s meant to be this shape. It was originally the headquarters of the Diamond Bank, whose logo can still be seen in metal grates at ground level.
Many of the interior details are preserved inside the Diamond Building. Here we look down the stairwell with its ornate railings.