Tag: Power Stations

  • South Side Electric Light Plant

    South Side Electric Light Plant

    When the Duquesne Light Company invaded residential neighborhoods to plant its death-ray generators, the neighbors were likely to object. It would help the company’s image if the power substations were elegant constructions. This classical palace of voltage conveyed the message that your Duquesne Light Company was substantial, respectable, and benevolent. The big hole that was later cut out of the front on the right side conveys the message that we needed to put the death-ray cannon somewhere.

    Inscription on the façade: Duquesne Light Company
  • Brunot Island

    Brunot Island

    Brunot Island, or Brunot’s Island, or Brunots Island, because the Board on Geographic Names “does not recognize the use of the possessive apostrophe,” as Wikipedia puts it (Father Pitt would be willing to explain it to them if they would like to make an appointment), is the first island in the Ohio downstream from Pittsburgh. It was once the home of Dr. Felix Brunot, who built an estate there in the late 1700s, and saw it washed away in a flood in 1811. Now it is home to the Brunot Island Generating Station, and it is inaccessible except by water, by railroad, or by a private pedestrian walkway for the workers at the power plant. These views were taken from the north shore of the Ohio.

    Power plant
  • Allegheny City Electric Station

    Allegheny City Electric Station

    In 1889 the whole idea of a power station was new. What should it look like? Obviously it should be elegantly proportioned, because we don’t want to give the neighbors any more reason than they already have to object to the death rays we’ll be generating in there. Thus this fine example of Victorian industrial architecture, which old Pa Pitt believes was Allegheny’s first power station, and which still stands with not too many alterations just off Brighton Road on what is now for some reason called Riversea Road, though it has previously been Braddock Street and then Brocket Street.

    Date Stone

    Once there was an elegantly arched entrance, which has been replaced by a wider commercial garage door. The date is still prominent in the keystone of the arch.

    A few years later, a new building was added in quite a different style:

    Irwin Avenue substation

    This one still belongs to Duquesne Light and is still called the Irwin Avenue Substation, in spite of the fact that Irwin Avenue has been Brighton Road for many years now. The style is impossible to pin down: the tall rounded arches and flared buttresses make us think of a Norman castle, and the pointed Tudor arch in the middle makes us think of a Norman castle that had passed into the hands of an Elizabethan landowner who placed more value on being able to drive a showy carriage through his gate than being able to defend his castle.