Allegheny General Hospital

Allegheny General Hospital

An Art Deco interpretation of the skyscraper style old Pa Pitt calls “Mausoleum-on-a-Stick,” in which the cap of the skyscraper is patterned after the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus. The architects, York & Sawyer, seem to have been taken with the style; they designed another Mausoleum-on-a-Stick building in the same year (1926) for Montreal. You can see a picture of it in one of old Pa Pitt’s earlier articles on Allegheny General Hospital.

The original skyscraper hospital was a marvel of practical hospital design. Everything radiates from a central core of elevators, and nothing is more than a few steps from the elevator. Later the hospital was expanded with new buildings in wildly mismatched styles, so that the complex has become the hopeless jungle of dead-end corridors and mismatched floors usual in big-city hospitals.

Top of Presbyterian Hospital, Oakland

The top of the tower portion of Presbyterian Hospital is one of several buildings in Pittsburgh inspired by the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus. This one belongs to the sub-style that Father Pitt calls Mausoleum-on-a-Stick: skyscrapers where the echo of the Mausoleum is at the top of the tower. Two of those in Pittsburgh are hospitals (Allegheny General is the other), and Old Pa Pitt would be delighted to know why “hospital” seems so likely to make architects think “Mausoleum.”

Mercy Hospital

Pittsburgh’s first hospital is also our last remaining Catholic hospital, operating as part of the UPMC empire under an agreement that allows it to retain its Catholic principles. It sits at the top of the Bluff, and if you have to be sick one consolation may be that your room has a swell view. In this picture, the UPMC logo lowers symbolically over the complex from the top of the U. S. Steel tower.

Cranes on the Bluff

Cranes at Mercy Hospital, where a new Vision and Rehabilitation center is going up.

Saint Joseph’s Hospital

The old St. Joseph’s Hospital became Carson Towers, a senior citizens’ apartment building, in 1977. But the central part is the original hospital building from 1911 (or 1907, depending on the source you read), preserving the original inscription. An article in the City Paper explains some of the history. This PDF has a picture of the original building. The caption says that “The sculpture over the front door is the only part of the original façade still visible on the building that is now Carson Towers,” but the most superficial comparison will show that this entire central section is virtually unchanged, except for more modern windows too small to fit the old frames.