Thursday, February 09, 2012

Devastating, Depressing Slideshow of Pittsburgh's Lost Architecture

I came across this slideshow on line, while searching for images and history of The North Side Market House. Ohio City in Cleveland is celebrating the happy 100th birthday of it's West Side Market. Allegheny City will never have that happy moment, after losing 500 buildings at it's heart to urban renewal in the 1950's, along with it's connected street grid.

It's not so much that all these buildings were lost--life goes on, and building and adapting is part of life-it's that a vast number of them were replaced with ugly parking garages, highways, failed developments and often just empty lots. I rarely feel that way about losing buildings in Manhattan since most (not all) are replaced for good reason, most often taller and more urban structures.

Anyway, it's depressing and there's a whole lot more one could show-entire communities just blown away in a few years of destruction.


Tim G said...

Your photos of the neighborhood cleared for the construction of Gateway Center remind me of the old West End of Boston, which was demolished in the late 50s and replaced with a similar stark development (although worse). It's painful to look at the old photos of how it was.

Paul Katz said...

As someone who grew up in Pittsburgh and spent five years in Boston, I think the parallel between the destruction of the point to build Gateway Center and Point State Park and the leveling of the West End to build Government Center is a huge stretch. I've always found Gateway Center to be a pleasant (and reasonably dense) development that hosts a good deal of cultural activity, and Point State Park is one of the city's greatest assets that just about everyone seems to love. Boston's Government Center, in contrast, is a horrible wasteland. A lot of urban redevelopment was indeed a travesty (like Allegheny Center and the Civic Arena), but on balance I find it hard to see the Point redevelopment as anything but a boon for the city.

John Morris said...

I tend to agree about Gateway Center. However, that is far from being the only loss shown. Many of those buildings were replaced by parking garages, empty lots or buildings of a far lower quality.

A very large number, like the Farmers Bank Building, First National Bank Building, Grogan Building etc, are of the perfect type for residential or hotel conversion. Almost priceless.

The Penn Station office building is huge but really a perfect almost mini city of the type that small businesses and artist's crave.

It's also interesting that there was what looks like a perfect exposition hall (Convention Center) near the point since we had to spend a lot of money to create something like it.

The Nixon Theater also looks like a non replacable asset.

Some of the other things don't bother me so much.

FYI, i'm a big fan of Hong Kong which has almost no history left at all. However, one rarely looks at stuff there and say's why did they do that? Almost everything was replaced by something more usefull and urban.

I often look around Pittsburgh and think, WTF!?