Images of Pittsburgh during the 1930’s


Over the last two weeks, we added 120 new images to the http://bradystewartphoto.photoshelter.com/gallery-list.  Gallery: Living In Western Pennsylvania 1900-1910; 1910-1930 & 1930-1950.

We continue to work on digitizing images for the Living in Western Pennsylvania 1930-1950 gallery.  This group documents a cross-section of the city’s existing buildings, new projects and events over the 20 year span;  i.e. views of the city & Oakland buildings, the building of Buhl Planetarium,Chatham Village, the Gulf & Koppers buildings and the great Pittsburgh flood of 1936.

 

Brady Stewart on location

Brady Stewart on location

Due to slow down in city projects in the late 20’s and into the great depression, Brady Stewart started to focus more on generating business for his “sideline” business, Brady Stewart Studio.  To go after more commercial photography work, he needed to invest in a 8″x10″ Dierdorf view camera.  At that time, you were not considered a legitimate commercial photographer if you didn’t use a 8″x10″ view camera.  Through his relationships with George Ketchum of Ketchum Advertising and local architects Ingham and Boyd, he garnered a number of major projects during this time. This article will focus on two projects for the Buhl Foundation and Ingham and Boyd Architects.

The Buhl Foundation

Henry Buhl Jr. was a successful retailer in the city of Allegheny during the late 1800’s and into the 20th century.  He established the Buhl foundation in the name of his wife to provide resources in support of local projects to enhance the lives of Pittsburgh-area residents.  He felt strongly in “giving back” to the community that had made him and his partner Russel Boggs wealthy.  More information about the foundation can be found at http://www.buhlfoundation.org/.

Chatham Village of Pittsburgh

The Buhl Foundation’s first major project was Chatham Village.  Described as the city’s affordable housing for the working class, it was an overwhelming success… and remains so today.  Brady Stewart was contracted to photograph the project renderings and also did some on-site work.

Chatham Village Rendering

Chatham Village Rendering

The development was constructed in 3 phases beginning in 1932 and ending in 1956.  This was a unique project since it was viewed a long-term investment for the Foundation.  They mandated the use of the best available building materials so the houses would be safe, secure and would last well into the future.  And they also offered the prospective residents  two options; ownership or rental.  Below is a progress photograph during construction:

Chatham Village Townhouse

Chatham Village Townhouse

It is hard to imagine today how a project like this was viewed back in 1931.  The city  was in the throes of the great depression (see shantytown photos http://bradystewartphoto.photoshelter.com/gallery/Living-in-Western-Pennsylvania-1930-1949/G0000.rclz4vq7ys/) and the progress that was made during the 1920’s by the middle/working class was slowly fading away.  But in reading about the people behind the Buhl Foundation, the current plight of the working class was the reason they approved the Chatham project.

To view more information on Chatham Village :http://www.livingplaces.com/PA/Allegheny_County/Pittsburgh_City/Chatham_Village_Historic_District.html

Buhl Planetarium

The construction of the Buhl Planetarium was truly one of the great achievements in the city during the depression.  The Buhl Planetarium was built with approximately 1/10th of the Foundation’s available monies ($1.1M).  Once completed, they signed to property over to the city for ongoing management and maintenance.

Buhl Planetarium on the North Side of Pittsburgh

Buhl Planetarium on the North Side of Pittsburgh

The project architects were Ingham and Boyd and they contracted out the renderings to J.A. Mitchell.  They originally proposed three entrance views, the following one was selected but ended up being revised during construction.

Buhl Planetarium Entrance

Buhl Planetarium Entrance

Brady Stewart photographed all the rendering and drawing with his 8″x10″ Dierdorf view camera to ensure the quality of reproduction, clear and concise and no distortion on the outer sides of the drawings.

Buhl Planetarium diagram of the first floor

Buhl Planetarium diagram of the first floor

There is a comprehensive web site on the history of the Buhl Planetarium with lots and lots of information http://buhlplanetarium.tripod.com/.

The Great Pittsburgh Flood of 1936

And one of the most horrific events during the 1930’s in Pittsburgh was the great flood of 1936.  Brady Stewart was out and about during the flood trying to capture the enormity of it.  Here is one of his best photographs of the event.  As most Pittsburgher’s know, there is a mark near the Horne’s clock that shows how high the water reached during the flood.  This photo was used to confirm it!.

The Great Pittsburgh Flood of 1936

The Great Pittsburgh Flood of 1936

The damage was incredible; over 100,000 buildings were destroyed, $250m in damage (6.3 billion in dollars today) , estimated 69 deaths and over 500 injured.   The catastrophe lead to the establishment of locks and dams along the three rivers to prevent this level of damage in the future.

A reminder that the 120 new images can be found at  http://bradystewartphoto.photoshelter.com/gallery-list.  Gallery: Living In Western Pennsylvania 1900-1910, 1910-1930 & 1930-1950.  And prints can be purchased from any of the images online. All proceeds are used to digitize and identify more prints and negatives for the collection.

 

 

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About bradystewartcollection
The Brady Stewart Collection of photographs, made by Brady Stewart, Brady Stewart Jr. and associates of Brady Stewart Studio Inc., consists of photographs taken in and around Pittsburgh Pennsylvania, Lake Erie, Lake Chautauqua, New York, Southwestern Ohio, Washington DC, Niagara Falls and Idaho. The historically significant collection spans most of the 20th century (1900-1990) and includes a wide array of Black &White, Sepia and Color photographs on Advertising & Products, Buildings and Churches, Children, Homesteading in Idaho, Manufacturing & Equipment, People & Lifestyle, Pittsburgh City Scenes, Sports and Transportation. The Brady Stewart Collection encompasses over 20,000 glass plates, prints and film negatives of all shapes and sizes. Today, Brady Stewart Studio is a fourth generation photography business. We are one of the longest operating family-owned commercial photography studios in the United States (1912-1991, 2008-). The Collection Images can be viewed at our hosted web site, www.bradystewartphoto.photoshelter.com

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