Tag: Fourth Avenue

  • Bradford Pear at PPG Place

  • Burke Building

    Burke Building

    Designed by John Chislett, our second resident professional architect (Benjamin Latrobe was our first), the Burke Building opened in 1836. It just missed the Great Fire nine years later, and it was substantial enough to remain valuable through the many booms that followed, so that it has survived to be the oldest building downtown outside Fort Pitt. That seems astonishing when we recollect that there had been a city here for 78 years before this building was put up, but flood and fire wiped away much of what came before, and prosperity destroyed the rest.

    We are lucky to have the Burke Building. It is a particularly elegant example of Greek Revival design, and it manages to create a very rich appearance with minimal ornament. Young architects would do well to imitate it.

    Wreaths
    Scallop lintel

    The Brookline Connection site has a page on the Burke Building with some interesting historical pictures.

  • Colonial Trust Company

    Colonial Trust Company Building

    Fourth Avenue, the second-biggest American financial center after Wall Street, was famous for its bank towers. But one bank decided to go long instead of high. The Colonial Trust Company built a magnificent banking hall that ran right through from Forbes Avenue to Fourth Avenue, skylit all the way. Pittsburghers passing between Fourth and Forbes, especially in cold weather, would take the route through the bank so regularly that the hall became known as Colonial Avenue.

    Frederick Osterling was the architect, and he designed this magnificent Corinthian face for the Forbes Avenue side.

    Lion’s head

    What would a bank be without its lions?

    Cartouche

    Home-repair tip: if your pediment is broken, you can fill the gap with a baroque cartouche.

    Two years ago, old Pa Pitt got pictures of the other entrances as well, so the rest of the pictures are reruns.

    The Fourth Avenue side is in the same style, but narrower:

    Fourth Avenue entrance
    Lion

    This side also has its lions.

    In 1926, the bank decided to expand by building another equally magnificent hall perpendicular to the first, with an entrance on Wood Street. Osterling was the architect again—but fashions, and Osterling’s own taste, had changed.

    Wood Street entrance

    Instead of florid Corinthian, this side is in a simpler Ionic style. The outlines are cleaner, and the wall of rectangular panes of glass and the shallow arch at the top seem almost modernistic. It is still a bravura performance, but perhaps a more perfectly controlled one.

    Fortunately the whole building has been adapted as Point Park’s University Center, so it is not going anywhere, for the near future at any rate.

  • How to Improve a Design by Alden & Harlow

    Here is how the Land Trust Company building (later the Commercial National Bank) looked in 1905:

    Land Trust Company
    From Palmer’s Pictorial Pittsburgh.

    And here is how it looks today:

    Land Trust Company today

    Much better, isn’t it?

  • Allegheny County Morgue

    Entrance

    By a splendid exercise of bureaucratic irony, the old morgue now houses offices of the county health department. It was designed by Frederick Osterling and built—on Forbes Avenue—in 1901. In 1929, it was moved to its current location on Fourth Avenue.

    Lion-headed serpent

    Frederick Osterling’s Romanesque buildings nearly always give us a monster or two to admire.

    Chimera
    Relief
    Morgue
  • Top of the Benedum-Trees Building

    Top of the Benedum-Trees Building

    The ornate cap of the Benedum-Trees Building, with the PPG Place Christmas tree poking its head into the picture. Enlarge the images to appreciate the wealth of carved detail.

    Benedum-Trees Building
  • Investment Building

    Top of the Investment Building

    Built in 1927, this Fourth Avenue tower was designed by John M. Donn, a Washington architect known for government buildings who seems not to have done anything else around here. (Update: This is incorrect; Donn also designed the Cathedral Mansions apartments in Shadyside.) The curious ornamental obelisks at the corners of the cap were the inspiration for Philip Johnson’s Tomb of the Unknown Bowler down the street.

    Investment Building
    From a different angle
  • Top of the Keystone Bank Building

    Keystone Bank Building

    The lower floors of this remarkable 1903 bank tower by MacClure and Spahr have been mutilated by modern additions, but from a block away on Forbes Avenue all we can see is the unmutilated top of the building, with its distinctive arched light well.

  • Top of the Arrott Building

    The top of the Arrott Building, rendered in old-postcard colors by the Two-Strip Technicolor script for the GIMP.

  • The Canyon

    Looking eastward on Fourth Avenue

    Looking eastward on Fourth Avenue from the intersection with Wood Street.