A memorial to the large number from St. Josaphat’s who served in both World Wars. It stands across the narrow street from the church, set into the hillside, with a statue of Christ displaying his Sacred Heart and welcoming us to stop and read the names. As you can guess from the names if you enlarge the picture, St. Josaphat’s was a Polish congregation.
West End Park is far off the beaten track, and few people outside its own neighborhood (which is technically Elliott, though it belongs at least as much to the West End) ever visit, or even know it exists. But it has one of our best war memorials by one of our best sculptors and one of our best architects.
The sculptor was Frank Vittor, who was already developing the streamlined style that would make him one of Pittsburgh’s two favorite sculptors (the other being Giuseppe Moretti). The architect was William Perry, whose most famous work is St. Bernard’s in Mount Lebanon, a church more magnificent than many cathedrals. Their collaboration produced a striking monument, simple but rich. Unfortunately some restoration has left it with two radically different colors of stone and concrete, which is not how it was meant to look, as we see in this picture from twenty-two years ago:
That picture shows us that the memorial has also lost some sort of bronze ornament on the bottom half of the shaft: we can see the shadow of what seems to have been a shield with double-headed axe set in a bronze band.
The little triangular park at Broadway, Shiras Avenue, and Bensonia Avenue is cluttered with monuments. There’s one for the First World War, one for the Second, one for Vietnam and Korea, and one for wars since then and “going forward,” as the city’s Twitter account put it when it was announced. The eagle above sits on the World War II memorial, the largest of the lot.
The latest memorial, for everything after Vietnam.
The World War I memorial.
The World War II memorial.
A modestly late-Art-Deco memorial to St. Basil’s parishioners who served in World War II. It remembers their service in the war, but its message is “PAX.”
Seen across Lake Elizabeth. This monument was “Erected to the memory of the 4,000 brave men of Allegheny County who fell in the great struggle to preserve the integrity of our Union.” Even today, four thousand men would be a huge number from this one county, and Allegheny County did not have more than a million people in it back in the 1860s.
Near the memorial was a bridge over the railroad, now gone, with the approaches blocked by chain-link fence. Some enterprising romantic discovered that the fence makes a fine billboard for a message spelled out in padlocks.
A splendid allegorical World War I memorial. Our all-American hero casts off the robes of comfort and offers his sword to whoever needs defending (in Pittsburgh, old Pa Pitt supposes, it is more proper to say “whoever needs defended”). Allen George Newman had a considerable reputation in his day, and this memorial must have cost the neighborhood a good bit of money. Note that the dates of the war are given as 1917-1919; although we commonly take the Armistice in 1918 as the end of the war, it was not technically over until the Treaty of Versailles was signed in 1919.
The pictures in this article have been donated to Wikimedia Commons under the Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal Public Domain Dedication, so no permission is needed to use them for any purpose whatsoever.