February 10, 2011 1 Comment
The next series of Posts will focus on the transformation of Pittsburgh’s skyline over the last 100 years. Volume 1 will discuss the changes in the city and skyline from 1900-1920. Volume 2 will focus on the changes from 1921-1947. Volume 3 will cover Renaissance 1 and changes from 1946-1970. Renaissance 2 completed the city’s transition and Volume 4 will highlight the changes to the skyline from 1971-1989.
Pittsburgh’s topography is what makes the skyline so unique. The characteristic shape of Pittsburgh’s central business district is a triangular tract carved by the confluence of the Allegheny and Monongahela rivers, which form the Ohio River. The Point, Golden Triangle, Three Rivers, and City of Bridges are just some of the names given to Pittsburgh’s skyline.
During this period in Pittsburgh, the skyline took shape and many of the buildings are still prominent in the cityscape. Continuing with earlier building projects, the new wave of buildings were constructed on or near the Grant Street business district. The next generation of skyscrapers started in the late 1920s with the construction of the Grant Building (1928) and the Koppers Building (1929). Quickly following was the Gulf Building (1932) which was located right next to the Koppers Building.
The Grant Building succeeded the First National Bank Building in 1928 as the tallest skyscraper in the city. The title was short-lived after the Gulf Building was completed in 1932. The Gulf Building held the title for over 38 years until the US Steel building was built.
The Koppers Building was built between 1927 and 1929 of Indiana limestone. Located at 436 7th Avenue, Pittsburgh, it is 475 feet tall, with 34 stories of commercial offices. Koppers occupies five floors of the building.
In the Koppers Building, architects Graham, Anderson, Probst & White created one of the best examples of an Art Deco-style building in Pittsburgh. This stepped-back skyscraper is encased in limestone and crowned with a copper chateauesque roof. The lobby provides an excellent example of an elegant and urbane Art Deco interior. The architectural firm was the successor of D.H. Burnham and Company, which designed several Pittsburgh buildings in the Classical and Beaux Arts styles.*
* Koppers Building information obtained from the following website – http://www.koppers.com/htm/OurCo_Heri_Build.html
When it was built-in 1928, the Grant Building was the tallest and most prestigious building in the City of Pittsburgh. It is on Grant Street’s premier business location, adjacent to the City-County Building and Allegheny County Courthouse.
Renowned architect Henry Hornbostel, pictured right, created a building in the classic Beaux Arts style to compete with the great high rises of the early twentieth century. Developers spared no expense, cladding the building in Swedish Granite at its base and topping the building with a flamboyant neon tower that spells out P-I-T-T-S-B-U-R-G-H in Morse Code. Like the Empire State Building, the Grant Building with its mast helped aviators to locate their way. Both buildings became iconic symbols of their cities.
The list of tenants occupying the Grant Building through the years reads like a Who’s Who of successful power brokers. Today the building houses respected attorneys, judges, and financiers. McKnight Realty Partners has undertaken an ambitious restoration of the Grant Building to align the Class A building with their signature project, Heinz 57 Center.
The collection has a number of photographs of the interior and exterior of the Grant Building – http://bradystewartphoto.photoshelter.com/gallery/Buildings-Architecture-of-Pittsburgh/G0000TiSQpG_VGoQ/1
Information on the Grant Building was obtained from this website – http://www.thegrantbuilding.com/content/history/
Prior to the late 1970s, the entire multistory “step-pyramid/mausoleum” structure at the top of the building was neon-illuminated, changing colors to provide a weather forecast that could be seen for many miles.
Subsequently, however, the weather forecasting role has been limited to the weather beacon at the pinnacle of the pyramid, which glows blue for precipitation and red for fair weather.
Major construction projects around the city were far and few between during the Depression era (1932-1938) and also during World War II (1941-1945). After the war, government and civic leaders worked together to create a blueprint for the next era in the city’s evolution called Renaissance 1.
If you are interested in downloading an image or to purchase a print, please contact Brady Stewart Studio by phone (724.554.9813) or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Additional Images can be viewed at http://bradystewartphoto.photoshelter.com/gallery-list.