A Stroll Down Sarah Street on the South Side
Central Oakland in the Rain
Rows of houses and small apartment buildings in the shadow of the Oakland medical-intellectual district.
You Can’t Get There from Here
Except on foot. This is Louisa Street in Oakland, a typical Pittsburgh street interrupted by a stairway.
Brownsville Road, Mount Oliver
Mount Oliver is having a bit of a revival these days. Luckily it never declined far enough to start losing buildings in its main commercial strip here on Brownsville Road, so the street is still lined with uninterrupted shops from Arlington Avenue to Bausman Street. For a while a considerable number of them were empty, but they are filling up again. The building at left with the green awning is the old Murphy’s variety store; it is now being made into artists’ studios by the couple who own the trendy Echt coffeehouse around the corner.
It is hard to explain Mount Oliver to people outside the hilltop neighborhoods of southern Pittsburgh. It is completely surrounded by the city of Pittsburgh, but it is an independent borough, the sole holdout when the back slopes of Mount Washington were annexed by the city. Its residents pay taxes to the borough government, but also to the city school system, because Mount Oliver buys its schooling from Pittsburgh. To make things a little more confusing and surreal, one of the adjacent neighborhoods of Pittsburgh is called “Mount Oliver,” but it is part of the city, not part of the borough. Street signs at what pass for major intersections in that second Mount Oliver identify it as “Mount Oliver Neigh,” so your horse can read them.
Lytton Avenue, Schenley Farms
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.
Belgian Block on Mount Washington
Norton Way, a Belgian-block alley on Mount Washington. Note the drainage channel in the middle; it is probably not necessary to mention that this is a steep slope.
The Craig Street Automotive Row, All at Once
Old Pa Pitt obsessively documented every building in the Craig Street automotive row. But he was even more obsessive than that. The thing that is most impressive about that row is that it is contiguous and intact: not a single one of the buildings, all put up at about the same time in the early years of the automobile, has disappeared or been seriously mutilated. Individual pictures do not show that impressive fact. Therefore, Father Pitt has made this composite view—by hand, he might add, since no automatic software was up to the task.
The brands these dealers sold, left to right: Nash, Oldsmobile, Jordan, Kelly-Springfield tires, B. F. Goodrich tires, Franklin, and Oakland.
Much of the background had to be filled in with plain blue, and the joints are very obvious if you enlarge the picture. But this is the only way to convey the extraordinary fact that this whole row has survived intact. How long will it last? We can only keep our fingers crossed. But if these buildings disappear, at least this picture can show future generations what this row was like.
Howley Street, Lawrenceville
A typical street of miscellaneous rowhouses in Lower Lawrenceville. This part of the neighborhood has become desirable enough that the houses are well maintained, but not desirable enough that they are pseudo-Victorianized yet, so that we still see the full cacophony of things Pittsburghers have thought it might be a good idea to do to a Victorian rowhouse. Below, an Italianate house that seems to be under renovation (note the expensive but asymmetrical new front entrance).
Pearl Street, Bloomfield
The last rays of evening sun strike little rowhouses on Pearl Street in Bloomfield. This picture was taken in 1999, but except for the cars the view has changed very little. Bloomfield still has one of the city’s best collections of Kool Vent aluminum awnings.
Grant Street in 2000
Photographed on Elite Chrome 100 film with a Kodak Retinette.