Allegheny County Airport

When this airport was built, it was the largest in the world in terms of runway footage; it is still one of the busiest airports in Pennsylvania, though there are no longer scheduled commercial flights. Moving the commercial flights to Greater Pitt meant that this airport never had to be rebuilt or modernized, so that the terminal (designed by Stanley L. Roush in 1931) is perhaps the most perfectly preserved Art Deco airport terminal in the world. It has played the airport in several period movies, and somewhere in a box or file Father Pitt has a picture of the terminal with the name “Bruxelles” replacing “Allegheny County Airport.”

Camera: Kodak EasyShare Z1485 IS.

Design for the City-County Building

This rendering was published in 1916, before the building opened in 1917; but this is how the City-County Building still looks today. “Diamond Street” is now part of Forbes Avenue, except for the remnant of the outer end that veers off Forbes for one scraggly diagonal block to meet Fifth Avenue.


The Joseph Horne Department Store was Pittsburgh’s second-biggest (after Kaufmann’s, “The Big Store,” now Macy’s). The original 1897 building was designed by Boston architects Peabody & Stearns, also responsible for the Liberty Market (now Motor Square Garden) in East Liberty; additions over the next few decades greatly expanded the store. It was still going strong in the 1980s, when it was connected by a pedestrian bridge to the new Fifth Avenue Place shopping arcade; but the Horne’s chain was sold to Lazarus, which closed this store after it built a new store on Fifth Avenue, and then closed the new store down a few years later.

The building still stands, though, and you can see on the corner the brackets that hold the famous Horne’s Christmas tree, an enduring holiday tradition that has survived the demise of two department-store chains.

Gateway Towers

This Brezhnev-era apartment building from 1964 has little to recommend it architecturally, but is there a finer location in the city? Point State Park is the front yard; the Gateway subway station is next door; the Cultural District is just up the street.

Camera: Olympus E-20n.

Fifth Avenue Place

One of the more prominent of the skyscrapers from the Postmodernist boom in the 1980s. The spindle that sticks out the top has a particular meaning: it marks the height the builders had intended the building to reach. They were thwarted by the city government, which thought for some reason that it would be too tall at that height, although the monstrous U. S. Steel Building had not bothered them a decade and a half before.

Do you like this building better with or without a leafy frame? Father Pitt is willing to oblige either way.

Camera: Olympus E-20n.

Penn Avenue, Cultural District

Penn Avenue in the Cultural District, Pittsburgh, from the corner of Sixth Street. The view includes the O’Reilly Theater and Theater Square (architect Michael Graves) and the Penn Avenue bikeway.

Camera: Kodak EasyShare Z1485 IS.

Two PNC Plaza

Not one of our most famous or most distinguished buildings, but big: this is the thirteenth-tallest building in Pittsburgh—the twelfth-tallest downtown (leaving out the Cathedral of Learning in Oakland). It opened in 1976 as Equibank Plaza, and ended up in the hands of PNC after many mergers and acquisitions. Since PNC calls this “Two PNC Plaza,” its own current headquarters “One PNC Plaza,” the mixed-use skyscraper at the foot of Fifth Avenue “Three PNC Plaza,” and its new signature skyscraper “The Tower at PNC Plaza,” old Pa Pitt is forced to conclude that PNC thinks of the whole Golden Triangle as “PNC Plaza.”