Tag: Sidewalks

  • Kittanning Brick

    A brick sidewalk in Allegheny West laid with grey Kittanning bricks. That is rare: most sidewalks in Pittsburgh were made with cheap red bricks. Kittanning bricks were special, generally used for facing buildings; in fact, we often see buildings with buff brick on the front, and cheaper red brick for the side and rear walls that no one is supposed to see.

    In the East Coast cities, bricks are red. There are exceptions, mostly high-budget constructions: the Naval Academy in Annapolis, for example, makes extensive use of white brick. But it is striking to East Coasters when they come to Pittsburgh to see that bricks come in a multitude of colors. These are the famous Kittanning bricks, and the leading—though by no means the only—producer of them was the Kittanning Brick Company. They were used more extensively in Pittsburgh and the surrounding area than anywhere else, which is why a street of brick houses in Pittsburgh may be a rainbow of red, buff, grey, and white bricks.

    In 1912, the Congressional Committee on Rivers and Harbors held hearings “On the Subject of the Improvement of Allegheny River, Pennsylvania, by the Construction of Additional Locks and Dams.” Mr. S. E. Martin, one of the titans of the brick industry in Kittanning, was invited to give testimony. Note, incidentally, that in the trade the plural of “brick” was “brick.”

    Mr. PORTER. I now desire to introduce Mr. S. E. Martin, who represents some brickkilns along the Allegheny River, and the brick interests in general in what is known as the Kittanning district.


    Mr. MARTIN. Mr. Chairman and gentlemen, Mr. Porter informs me that the time is a little short, and I wish just simply to present to you an outline of the brick interests as they are represented in what we will term the Kittanning district.

    In this district that will be affected by this proposed improvement there are eight or nine companies manufacturing brick between Templeton and White Rock. An estimate of their combined output is approximately 170,000,000 brick.

    Now, this brick is not common brick, but face brick—brick that are used for facing buildings of all kinds. It makes an approximate tonnage of about 500,000 in the finished product. This brick, known as the Kittanning brick (which is a gray brick or a buff brick in different shades), can be manufactured only from the clay in this district. It has been proven that this clay does not exist outside of this immediate vicinity, and this clay has made a brick that has popularized itself all over the country.

    The CHAIRMAN. What is the name of that brick?

    Mr. MARTIN. Kittanning.

    Mr. BARCHFELD. Is the Plaza Hotel in New York built of that brick?

    Mr. MARTIN. Yes, sir.

    The CHAIRMAN. You say it is the only clay in the world from which that brick can be made?

    Mr. MARTIN. There is no clay that I know of that will manufacture the same brick.

  • Tree Conquers Sidewalk

    Sidewalk detouring around tree

    In the never-ending war between trees and sidewalks, this tree in the West Park arboretum has won and received the sidewalk’s abject surrender.

  • A Stroll Down Sarah Street on the South Side

  • Lytton Avenue, Schenley Farms

    Lytton Avenue

    One of the streets named for great writers in the Schenley Farms section of Oakland; this writer happens to be the most famous of the lot because of his association with a well-known contest. Above, bronze letters in the sidewalk still mark where Lord Lytton meets Mr. Parkman. Below, the street, lined with beautiful turn-of-the-twentieth-century houses and mature sycamores, points straight toward the Cathedral of Learning.

    Lytton Avenue
    A broader view
  • E. Martina, Sidewalk Contractor

    Sidewalk plaque

    To judge by other pictures of E. Martina plaques on line, a decorative surface of exposed pebbles seems to have been this contractor’s trademark style. This sidewalk is along 18th Street on the South Side.

    The delightfully eclectic Pittsburgh Orbit site has made a thorough study of sidewalk plaques and stamps. It will open your eyes to a whole world of artistic treasures literally under your feet.

  • Roots II: The Revenge

    This tree has long since outgrown its little square of dirt along Jane Street on the South Side. Now it is meditating a hostile takeover of the sidewalk.

  • Herringbone

    The sidewalk along Sidney Street, South Side. Old brick sidewalks are pleasant and picturesque; they do tend to be just irregular enough to be hazardous to pedestrians whose eyes are glued to their phone screens.

  • Roots

    The base of a tree against a sidewalk in Schenley Farms.

  • Autumn on the South Side

    Fall colors on the sidewalk of Jane Street.

  • Sidewalk of Jane Street

    The last block of Jane Street on the South Side Flats (as opposed to the resumed Jane Street on the Slopes side of the tracks) feels delightfully private, lined on the north side with charming Second Empire rowhouses facing an old herringbone-pattern brick sidewalk. The colors of the houses and flowers shine out all the brighter in the gloom of a rainy day.