Tag: Department Stores

  • Do You Know This Face?

    If you are a Pittsburgher, you have probably seen it many times, but you may not have paid it much attention.

    It belongs to one of the atlantes—Atlas figures—on the Kaufmann’s clock.

  • Horne’s

    The old Horne’s department store is still kept in good shape on the outside, though it is no longer filled with dry-goods treasures from around the globe.

  • Fifth Avenue in 2001

    Fifth Avenue

    How things have changed in two decades! Fifth Avenue at the turn of our century was a busy and fairly low-class retail district, instead of the somewhat less busy but much tonier row of specialty boutiques it is now. Above, we look eastward toward the shiny new Lazarus department store, soon to go bust. At this point there were four department stores downtown, which proved to be about four more than the traffic could support. Below, the G. C. Murphy five-and-dime store, which proudly claimed to be the world’s largest variety store, and Candy-Rama, whose sign was probably bigger than the store itself. Note also the last incarnation of a hat shop (formerly Tucker & Tucker) that had been at the same location for decades.

    Murphy’s
    Fifth at Smithfield

    One thing has not changed at all: Pittsburghers have always been inveterate jaywalkers. Note the crowds crossing before the light has changed.

    Fifth Avenue, Kaufmann’s on left

    On the left, Kaufmann’s, the biggest department store there ever was in Pittsburgh, with fourteen floors of everything. On the right, Lord & Taylor, which didn’t last very long here.

    Old Pa Pitt has gone rummaging in old boxes of slides and binders of negatives, so you will see more of these old pictures over the next few weeks. The pictures in this article were taken with a pair of Communist cameras: a Soviet Zenit-B and an East German Praktiflex.

  • Frank & Seder Department Store, 1927

    Frank & Seder

    An image from an advertisement in the National Vaudeville Artists’ Annual for 1928. You and your dancing poodles are invited to shop here. This building is now under renovation, and with the removal of some later accretions the shadows of the Frank & Seder signs are visible (see the recent photos here).

  • Frank & Seder

    Kaufmann’s was the Big Store, but Frank & Seder, facing Kaufmann’s across a whole block of Smithfield Street, was hardly small. The building is now under restoration.

    The restoration has peeled away later accretions, and we can see the shadows of an old sign at the corner of Forbes Avenue.

    Two layers of ghost signs still memorialize the old department store to pedestrians on Fifth Avenue.

    Compare the photograph to this illustration of the store in 1927.

  • Horne’s Christmas Tree in Afternoon Sun

    Once again the season has arrived to decorate the corner of the old Horne’s department store. Though the store is long gone, the current owners of the building keep up the ancient tradition.

  • Kaufmann’s Clock from Fifth Avenue

    The famous Kaufmann’s clock, seen from the east on Fifth Avenue.

  • The Horne’s Christmas Tree

    For decades the corner of Horne’s department store was made into a gigantic Christmas tree every year. Though Horne’s is long gone, the current owners of the building have kept up the tradition, and for good reason. There would be riots in the streets if the tree failed to appear.

  • Gimbels Building

    This was actually built as the Kaufmann and Baer department store in 1914—the Kaufmann of the name being another branch of the family that owned the even bigger Kaufmann’s department store two blocks away. In 1925 it was taken over by Gimbels, and it remained Gimbels until the chain evaporated in 1986, so every old-timer in Pittsburgh remembers it as the Gimbels Building. The lower floors are occupied by retail stores now; the upper floors are offices.

    The architects of the building were the New York firm of Starrett & van Vleck, who were responsible for many of the flagship department stores in big Eastern cities.

  • Lorch’s Department Store, South Side

    This building at the corner of Carson and 17th, known to today’s Pittsburghers as the home of Nakama, a well-known Japanese restaurant, was once Lorch’s, the “South Side’s Big Store,” as we can see in this advertisement preserved by the Pittsburgh History and Landmarks Foundation:

    To run a department store on the South Side in about 1901, you had to be able to serve your customers in Polish—and probably Ukrainian and Serbian and several other languages as well.