109-115 Wood Street, downtown Pixberg. August 27, 2009Posted by krbradford in National Register of Historic Places.
Today I visited my first site on the National Register of Historic Places. The photo on the left shows a building on the corner of Wood Street and Boulevard of the Allies that is now part of the Point Park University campus. I did a little bit of nosing around on the internet before I went to visit, took a peek on Google Street View… so I was actually pretty surprised when I arrived and saw just how darn pretty these buildings were (building? technically, I’m not sure whether this is one building or multiple).
This structure was built in 1897, designed by architect Charles Bickel, and was owned by the Hartje Brothers Paper Manufacturing Company. My understanding is that this company moved its headquarters to Steubenville, Ohio, and the building experienced periods of vacancy over the years… during the dotcom boom it was home to companies named ComputerM and Inrange Technologies (who occupied it at the time it became a historic landmark), but it again fell vacant. In 2006 the space was purchased by Point Park University, which has been quickly expanding in downtown Pittsburgh, fixed it up, and it now houses dorms and classrooms. I just happened to arrive on move-in day, which made parking super fun.
Point Park has done a very nice job of cleaning up these buildings. They’re very attractive and they really have some particularly lovely architectural details. I did not go inside, however, because there were students with sweatpants and stressed out parents crawling all over the place.
I was immediately struck by the incredible amount of construction going on downtown. Market Square – the entire square – is completely fenced off and ripped apart. The reason for all this construction is, of course, the upcoming G20 Summit in September, during which pretty much every important leader in the entire world is going to be in Pittsburgh, judging us. I’m just curious how on earth they’re going to finish all these construction projects in less than a month. I mean, there was construction everywhere.
So, what does this building tell me about Pittsburgh? Well… it became a national historic place in 1979, during a tumultuous time in Pittsburgh’s history. The steel industry was collapsing, and the entire backbone of the local economy was disintegrating. The city government established a second “Renaissance” program (the first being after WWII) to help improve and beautify the city, and improve the economy by drawing business from new sectors. Many of Pittsburgh’s historic sites were registered in the late 70s and early 80s, and I think that was in an effort to revitalize the city after the economy began to fail. Pittsburgh really struggled for a while, but it managed to attract a lot of business, and now has a relatively strong economy – Pittsburgh has not lost jobs but actually gained them during the recent worldwide recession. Finance, healthcare, robotics, biotechnology, and tourism are big business in Pittsburgh. Point Park University lives in this building now… and has helped to make it the beautiful place it is today. The universities in Pittsburgh are crucial, adding a lot to the culture and also to the economy. In the city limits, there are ten colleges and universities that I’m aware of.
Check out the rest of the photos from my visit in my slideshow. Be sure to click on “Show Info” at the top right to read the captions.
Site #1: Success!