Oliver Building

Henry W. Oliver wanted to leave a mark on Pittsburgh, and he certainly did. Virgin Alley was renamed Oliver Avenue, and he planned this building to be the tallest in Pittsburgh. It was the tallest when it opened in 1910, although Oliver himself didn’t live to see it finished. As architect, he hired Daniel Burnham, the great Chicago beaux-arts master for whom Pittsburgh was practically a second home—there are more Burnham buildings here than anywhere else but Chicago.

819 and 821 Penn Avenue

Both these buildings are quite utilitarian, with ground-floor storefronts and upper-floor workshops; but each is adorned with its own distinctive classical detailing. The Greek-key pattern shows up on both, but no. 819 in particular adds a profusion of other ornaments that distinguish it from its neighbors.

Once again, the narrowness of Penn Avenue makes it difficult to get a complete picture of the façades of these buildings, so the tops are a little blurry.

Renshaw Building and Kirkpatrick Building, Liberty Avenue

The Renshaw Building (left) was built in 1908; it is architecturally interesting for the way it duplicates the base-shaft-cap form of a standard beaux-arts skyscraper in miniature.

The Kirkpatrick Building was built a quarter-century earlier in 1884. A cast-iron front on the first four floors gives way to standard Victorian Romanesque brickwork in the upper half.

Maginn Building, Liberty Avenue

The Maginn Building was one of several Romanesque designs by the prolific Charles Bickel. The large windows of the upper floors indicate that it was built as some kind of workshop or small factory, of which there were many in this section of town.

Armstrong Cork Company Buildings

Now converted to loft apartments and known as “The Cork Factory,” this landmark of industrial architecture was designed by Frederick Osterling. Here we see it from Washington’s Landing on a grey day. Since the weather was mopey, Father Pitt decided to make this picture look as much as possible as though it could have been made in 1901, when the buildings were new; but in fact it was taken just this afternoon.

Camera: Konica Minolta DiMAGE Z3.

Skyscrapers, Old and New

The Tower at PNC Plaza under construction in March of 2015. In front of it, three of the Fourth Avenue towers: the Benedum-Trees Building (1905, architect Thomas H. Scott), the Investment Building (1927, architect John M. Donn), and the Arrott Building (1902, architect Frederick Osterling).