Monday, July 26, 2010
Among the best places to look up in Pittsburgh
By Scott Beveridge
PITTSBURGH, Pa. – The Culture District in Pittsburgh is a great place to stop and look up at the old buildings.
The tall narrow ones especially have some of the most-interesting architectural stories to tell in this section of Downtown that is becoming vibrant again.
A quick study shows these brownstones were built in layers, almost as if their owners gave them a new top hat every few years as their businesses and families expanded. The bottom two or three floors were built first, then additional floors were added as the flow of immigrants required more living space in this downtown, which was then a major stop in the late 1800s for trade during America's Westward Movement.
This several block section of Pittsburgh along Penn and Liberty avenues has some of the best-preserved examples of wealthy merchant architecture from that era.
The five-story commercial Richardsonian loft at 931 Penn Ave., shown above, dates to 1892, when it was built for Levi Wade as part of a block of furniture businesses. It's among a number of similar buildings in the area with bronze plaques explaining why they are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
They are located in an area where a number of hip new restaurants have opened in response to a bustling theater district that certainly is among the best of its kind in small cities in America the size of Pittsburgh.
Exciting things are happening in this city, especially with the opening this year of the nearby luxurious and environmentally-friendly Fairmont Hotel. It's just off the Market District, portions of which also are being renovated and restored.