Terra-Cotta Decorations on the Buhl Building

Terra cotta

The Buhl Building, an earlier work of Benno Janssen, is covered with Wedgwood-style terra-cotta decorations. Below, the Market Street end of the building.

Buhl Building
Terra cotta

Mayor Guthrie

Relief of Mayor Guthrie

George W. Guthrie was mayor of Pittsburgh when the Keenan Building was put up in 1907, and here is his face among the terra-cotta decorations on the building, where he keeps company with other prominent men of Pittsburgh. Pittsburghers remember Guthrie as the mayor who finally engineered the successful conquest of Allegheny, so North Siders sometimes think of him the way Ukrainians think of Vladimir Putin. Perhaps his most important accomplishment, though, was clean city water that, for the first time, brought typhoid under control in Pittsburgh, where it had been a scourge for the first century and a half of the city’s existence.

Reliefs by John Massey Rhind on the People’s Savings Bank Building

Relief by John Massey Rhind

John Massey Rhind was Andrew Carnegie’s favorite sculptor; he gave us the Noble Quartet in front of the Carnegie Institute and the statue of Robert Burns outside Phipps Conservatory. Here he gives us some allegorical figures to adorn the entrances to the People’s Savings Bank’s splendid tower at Fourth Avenue and Wood Street. Not altogether coincidentally, the building itself was designed by Alden & Harlow, Carnegie’s favorite architects, whose firm (with their earlier partner Longfellow) was also responsible for the Carnegie Institute. Above, the Wood Street side; below, the Fourth Avenue side.

Fourth Avenue side

Lion on the Keystone Bank Building

Lion on the Keystone Bank

Fourth Avenue has a denser population of lions than anywhere else in Pittsburgh, and possibly anywhere else in North America.

Commercial National Bank

Commercial National Bank

This little bank on Fourth Avenue was originally designed by Alden and Harlow. The central section has been ruthlessly mutilated, with the elegant arch replaced by a cartoon suggestion of an arch. For reasons unknown, much of the rest of the building was left untouched (although it is pretty clearly missing its top), and the details there are enough to make it worth our while to stop and admire them.

Of course there are lions. How could there not be lions?