Posts tagged golden triangle.

The Golden Triangle at the junction of the Monongahela and the Allegheny Rivers in the heart of the city, 1936.

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Sept. 18, 1933: "The Alpine heights atop the Grant Building"

A few years after the Grant Building was completed, one Pittsburgh newspaper sent a reporter to the structure’s observation deck to assess the value of visiting such a lofty perch.

The 37th floor deck was a “mecca,” the reporter wrote, visited by thousands who came from “every corner of the world and for every reason under the sun.”

One young man visited for medicinal reasons. His hearing was deteriorating, but spending time atop the Grant Building offered some sort of a cure. That’s what he believed, anyway. A “prominent businessman” visited the deck when needing inspiration to write compelling sales letters.

And “business girls” who’ve spent their noon hour on the observation deck “go back to their key-punching jobs with new vigor,” the reporter wrote.

It’s easy to chuckle at some of these notions today, but when the Grant Building was completed in 1930, it was Pittsburgh’s tallest building  and therefore offered residents a never-before experienced view of their city and the surrounding countryside. Folks had reason to be giddy about it.

Construction on the building began in late September 1927 when two steam shovels poked into a plot of ground between Third and Fourth avenues on Grant Street. Builders promised offices with enclosed lavatories with hot and cold running water, clothes presses, and Western Union and Postal Telegraph call box connections. A tunnel under Fourth Avenue offered entrance to the City-County Building “without subjecting one to weather and traffic conditions.”

One of the structure’s innovations was a lighted beacon that sat atop the building and blinked out the word “Pittsburgh” in Morse code. The light, visible up to 125 miles away, was designed to keep night-flying pilots from crashing into the skyscraper.

During World War II, the beacon was extinguished for security reasons. And because city leaders declared they could install no air raid sirens whose wail could penetrate the Grant Building’s brick walls, sirens were instead installed inside the building.

The Grant Building has been renovated a few times — once in the 1960s, and again in the 1980s. But the beacon remains. For a while, a glitch in the aging technology caused the light to spell out “P-i-t-e-t-s-b-k-r-r-h.”  Repairs were made in July 2009.  And so, to all those gazing into the Golden Triangle at night, we are once again “Pittsburgh.”

(Top picture: Workers relax on the 37th floor observation deck in August 1933. Photo credit: Unknown)

— Steve Mellon

Point State Park fountain, Pittsburgh, 1974 (via

On This Day in Pittsburgh History: August 30, 1974 

After three decades of planning and construction, Point State Park is finally completed. [Historic Pittsburgh

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Skyline - Pittsburgh, Pa.

"As seen from across the Monongahela River showing the new giant skyscraper office buildings rising in the very heart of the Golden Triangle. To the left of the picture and near the apex of the famous Point, can be seen three of the Gateway Center Office Buildings. When the project is completed there will be nine of these huge buildings at this location, and 36 acres will provide a fitting center for Fort Pitt."

The Golden Triangle, Pittsburgh, 1963 (via

On This Day in Pittsburgh History: June 14, 1962 

An $84 million rebuilding plan for the Golden Triangle is announced. [Historic Pittsburgh

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Mellon Square, Pittsburgh, Pa.

“A section of the park showing the Penn-Sheraton Hotel in the right background. This magnificent acre of greenery has brought into the heart of the Golden Triangle the majestic beauty of trees and shrubs, erupting fountains and cascades accentuated by multi-colored lights at night.”

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Point State Park, Pittsburgh, PA

“Point State Park and many of the principal buildings in downtown, Pittsburgh. Dwarfed in the shadows of the trees, on the right, is the historically famous Block House; all that remains of the original Fort Pitt.”

Pittsburgh’s Golden Triangle during the St. Patrick’s Day flood, 1936 [Brookline Connection]

Pittsburgh’s Golden Triangle during the St. Patrick’s Day flood, 1936 [Pittsburgh Post-Gazette via Heinz History Center] 

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March 13, 1907: “Record flood inundates the city”

When the flood of March 1907 deluged the city at the confluence of three rivers, Pittsburg was spelled without its h.

This disaster smashed previous flood records set in 1832 and 1884 because the Allegheny and Monongahela Rivers rose to a height above 36.6 feet. After rain began falling on March 12, the rivers bulged with debris, ice floes and even small out buildings from farms. In Downtown, water covered Sixth Street, surrounded the Wabash railway terminal and the Pittsburg & Lake Erie Railroad station.

During the height of the flood, John S. Bell, superintendent of the Humane Society, stopped all teamsters from using horses to haul people from Allegheny City to Pittsburg. Mr. Bell said the water reached the horses’ abdomens, causing the animals to cramp and suffer greatly.

Residents of Allegheny City, now called the North Side, were angry that police had not notified them of the potential for such serious flooding. Many of them fled their neighborhood by paddling along Lacock, West Robinson or Federal streets in boats and skiffs. Others fled to Pittsburg by train. In just three hours, the Ft. Wayne rail depot sold 7,000 tickets.

On this date, March 13, 106 years ago, flooding damaged the Turtle Creek Valley as well as Carnegie and Oakdale. On the previous night and the morning of March 13, Deer Creek rose to a height of 16 feet, engulfing a railroad engine and seven railroad cars near Harmarville. Three employees of the West Penn Railroad drowned in the Allegheny River and the flood washed away a railroad bridge. Besides those those fatalities,at least 12 more people perished in the disaster. More than 300,000 employees who worked in iron or steel plants were idled.

In its March 15 evening edition, the Pittsburg Press described the scene this way: “There is probably not a man, woman or child in Pittsburg who did not feel the effect of the flood, directly or indirectly. While the water itself only damaged the lowlands, it paralyzed the traffic of both the steam and electric railways; brought business to a standstill, closing mills, mines, factories and busy marts of trade; crippled the lighting plants, plunging the city into Stygian darkness; interrupted telephone and telegraph communication, and in countless other ways, stopped the wheels of progress.”

Today is the anniversary of that destructive flood. It happened 106 years ago.

You can take a closer look at the flooded city at our Zoom page.

— Marylynne Pitz 

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Dec. 5, 1976: “Sunday Christmas Shoppers”

Cash registers rang out a Merry Christmas tune in the three biggest stores in the Golden Triangle on this particular Sunday. Retailers that had been banned from conducting Sunday sales for years by Pennsylvania’s Blue Laws finally opened their doors on that day to Christmas shoppers.

According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, stores opened for Sunday business after the state Supreme Court issued orders prohibiting prosecution of Blue Law violators “until the validity of the controversial statutes can be tested in the courts.” 

Downtown streets, particularly Grant and Smithfield streets and Liberty and Sixth avenues, were jammed with cars most of the afternoon. Shoppers crowded the main sales floors of Gimbels and Kaufmann’s. And people seemed to be buying, not just looking, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported.

(Photo by Anthony Kaminski, The Pittsburgh Press)

— Mila Sanina

On This Day in Pittsburgh History: November 21, 1960 

Light Up Night has its first official debut at 6 p.m., and all department stores unveil their holiday displays. The previous year a smaller unofficial light-up event was launched. [WikipediaBrady Stewart

Pittsburgh’s Golden Triangle on Light Up Night [Brookline Connection

"Pittsburgh’s Point in September 1931. The Gulf Building, now the tallest in the city, is nearing completion. This photo gives a good view of the crowded homes and businesses that occupy the Lower Hill District and also the busy Pennsylvania Railroad Station." [Brookline Connection

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Apr. 14, 1935:  Pittsburgh aerial view

In 1935, Pittsburgh was still a city of “sweat and gold,” smoky and burgeoning with economic activity. Its population peaked that year at 690,328.  A significant number were first and second-generation immigrants from Eastern Europe. 

We know very little about this photograph, besides its date and the following information written on the back: “The city of Pittsburgh with very little smoke looking East from junctions of Rivers forming Ohio.”

Altitude: 1000

Time: 5:30.

(Photo by The Detroit News Airplane Photography)

— Mila Sanina