Tag: Diamond

  • Nicholas Building

    If you see a student of architecture suddenly stop in the middle of the Diamond and burst out laughing, this building is the subject of the mirth.

    When it was announced that a gigantic complex to be designed by Philip Johnson was going to take over one corner of the Diamond, the owners of the Nicholas Coffee building, who happened to be ready for a renovation, decided to welcome their new neighbor with a parody of what was then Johnson’s most famous work. At that time, Johnson was notorious everywhere for his AT&T Building (now called just 550 Madison Avenue), which was a deliberate poke in the eye of orthodox modernism; and you have only to see it to get the Nicholas Building’s joke.

    Photograph by David Shankbone; cropped by Beyond My Ken.
  • 8 Market Square

    8 Market Square

    This building on the Diamond has lost its cornice, but the rest of it is intact, and the details are worth a closer look.

  • 2 Market Square

    Pittsburgh dates from 1758, but downtown has prospered and burned and been rebuilt and prospered and decayed and prospered again so much that little remains from before the Civil War. This is one of the few survivors from the antebellum era: it was built before 1852, to judge from old engravings.

  • G. C. Murphy Buildings

    G. C. Murphy buildings

    It called itself “the world’s largest variety store,” and it was probably right about that. G. C. Murphy was a big chain of five-and-dime stores based in McKeesport, but the downtown Pittsburgh store was its biggest and most exciting. It had three floors of everything, including concessions rented out to everything from produce vendors to fortune tellers. The whole establishment occupied the corner of Forbes Avenue and the Diamond and went through the block to Fifth Avenue.

    The chain succumbed to corporate raiders in the 1980s, who exploited quirks of capitalist logic by driving the chain into bankruptcy and getting rich in the process. The downtown store contracted into a small part of its former empire, and then closed altogether.

    For a while the buildings sat empty. Now they have been restored to beautiful condition, and the Diamond is thriving again. Old Pa Pitt wishes he could have Murphy’s back, but time like an ever-rolling stream and all that.

  • Tower Two-Sixty

    Tower Two-Sixty

    The blockish Tower Two-Sixty looms over the little human-sized buildings on the Diamond.

  • Fifth Avenue Place from the Diamond

    Fifth Avenue Place looms over the DFiamond

    Fifth Avenue Place looms over the low human-sized buildings on the Diamond.

  • View Across the Diamond

    View across the Diamond

    A wintry view across the Diamond or Market Square, with the Pittsburgh National Bank Building (One PNC Plaza), the U. S. Steel Tower, the Tower at PNC Plaza, and Tower Two-Sixty looming behind the square.

  • Three Gateway Center from the Diamond

    Three Gateway Center looms in the mist of a winter morning.

  • One of the Oldest Buildings Downtown

    Pittsburgh is a colonial-era city, but downtown has been rebuilt so many times that not much is left from before the Civil War. This building probably dates from the late 1840s, making it one of the oldest remaining downtown. It probably came after the Great Fire of 1845, but it appears in this engraving of the Diamond as it appeared before 1852, which was the year the old courthouse in the middle was torn down.

    The building in the background, with smoke rising from its chimneys, is clearly meant to be this one. There are eleven columns of windows in the engraving instead of the nine columns of windows we see today, but old Pa Pitt suspects the engraver was working from a rough sketch and simply gave us his best guess.

  • West Side of the Diamond

    The west side of the Diamond or Market Square, looking down Graeme Street toward Fifth Avenue.