St. Paul’s at the Blue Hour
Soldiers and Sailors Hall at Night
Night views of the Soldiers and Sailors Memorial in Oakland.
Pittsburgh Athletic Association, Oakland
This grand Renaissance palace by Benno Janssen has a lighting scheme that emphasizes its architectural details.
In the foreground, the silhouette of one of the cannons on the grounds of Soldiers and Sailors Hall.
Telamones and Other Ornaments on the Park Building
A “telamon” is a male human figure used as an architectural support. Most architectural references regard the term as interchangeable with “atlas” (of which the plural is “atlantes”), but some working architects seem to have distinguished the two, “telamones” being youthful, beardless figures, and “atlantes” being older bearded figures with pronounced or exaggerated musculature, like the atlantes on the Kaufmann’s clock. At any rate, the 1896 Park Building, which is our oldest standing skyscraper (if we don’t count the seven-storey Consetoga Building as a skyscraper), has thirty of these figures supporting the elaborate cornice. The sculptor seems not to be known, which is a pity, because these are exceptionally fine work. The architect was George B. Post, who also designed the New York Stock Exchange and the Wisconsin state capitol, among many other notable buildings.
One of these fellows has lost his head, which you might do, too, if you had to hold up a cornice like that for 126 years.
At some point in the middle twentieth century it seemed like a good idea to someone to fill in the shaft of the building with modernistic columns of windows. It was not a good idea.
Some Details of St. Paul’s Cathedral
More Reflections of St. Paul’s
Reflections of the towers of St. Paul’s Cathedral in the windows of the Software Engineering Institute.
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.
Rowhouses on Fifth Avenue, Uptown
Uptown is a neighborhood in transition, and it still is not entirely clear what it will become. Will these rowhouses become valuable properties worth restoring? Or will they be knocked down for skyscraper apartments? Or will the development mania grind to a halt before it reaches this block? These two houses are in pretty good shape and worth preserving for their nearly intact fronts. Both have some fine woodwork. The one on the left has had some unfortunate renovation done to the dormer, but otherwise nothing bad has happened to it. It has newer windows, but in the right size and shape, and if you painted those aluminum frames they would be indistinguishable from the originals. The one on the right is even more perfectly intact. Note its proper Pittsburgh stair railing: in Pittsburgh, railings are a plumber’s art.
Some Details from Webster Hall
Father Pitt picked up a Fujifilm HS10 camera very cheaply, and here is a demonstration of its long range. The picture above and the picture below were taken standing in the same spot: the steps of the Mellon Institute across Fifth Avenue. The picture above is not a composite: the lens is wide enough for the whole building. (Of course the perspective has been adjusted, because old Pa Pitt wouldn’t let a picture go without doing that.)
A scallop-shell ornament over one of the windows in the upper floors. The long lens makes it easy to pick out interesting details, and the details on Webster Hall, designed by Henry Hornbostel, are worth picking out. It’s a kind of Art Deco Renaissance palace, built as luxury apartments, but soon changed into a hotel, and then back to luxury apartments again.
Soldiers and Sailors Memorial from a Different Angle
We saw the front as it looked 22 years ago (and as it looks today, because nothing has changed except the plantings). This is the Bigelow Boulevard side the way it looked the day before yesterday, as seen from Lytton Avenue a block away. Supposedly this was the side that architect Henry Hornbostel had been forced to agree to make the front, but then he built the thing his way anyway, with a long vista down to Fifth Avenue.
Old-timers will remember the parking lot in the foreground as Syria Mosque.