In general, Pittsburgh apartment buildings can be small and elegant or large and atrocious, but Shadyside is one of the few neighborhoods in Pittsburgh where apartment buildings can be both large and elegant. The Arlington, at the corner of Centre Avenue and Aiken Avenue, is one of the most elegant of the lot. Here we see the Aiken Avenue side. The various room layouts are rather charmingly named for composers, Bartok being the cheapest and Sibelius the most expensive. If you wish to occupy a spare hour or two, try to come up with a critical theory that accounts for that pricing.
A spiral fire escape on the side of an apartment building in Shadyside.
Pittsburgh used to be a city of massive black stone buildings. In a few years, perhaps, they will all have disappeared–not torn down, but cleaned of the soot deposits from decades of heavy industry. When the mills died and the cleanings began, it came as a surprise to many Pittsburghers that the uniquely Pittsburghish black stones they had known all their lives were, underneath it all, quite pale and ordinary-looking, almost like the stones in every other city. Experts say that the pollutants eat away at the stones, so I suppose the cleanings are necessary; but I miss those black stones. Albright Community United Methodist Church on Centre Avenue in Shadyside has not been cleaned yet; this is its tower, still gloriously black, though not as inky black as it was at the peak of the steel industry.
First United Methodist Church sits where Shadyside, East Liberty, Friendship, and Bloomfield all meet. It would be hard for a building to get much more Richardsonian without having been designed by Henry Hobson Richardson himself.
Roslyn Place is a tiny and impossibly narrow street lined with small but dignified brick townhouses. So far it is little different from any of a dozen other nearby townhouse plans of the early 1900s. But it is the street itself, rather than the houses that line it, that is the attraction.
Those are not bricks that pave the street; they’re wood blocks. Here’s a closer look:
A somewhat bedraggled plaque on the handsome wrought-iron fence along Ellsworth Avenue dates the pavement to the year 1914.