Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleEdit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Pittsburgh MultiStories: Pittsburgh's Oldest Surviving Skyscraper

The 15-story Park Building and the 14-story Carnegie building went up in the the late 1800s just a block away from each other Downtown. Today, only the Park Building still stands.




Pittsburgh's two skyscrapers in 1896: the Park (lighter, on the left) and Carnegie buildings | Images courtesy Mark Houser
 

The Park Building
Address: 355 Fifth Ave.
Stories: 15
Height: 210 ft.
Built: 1896
Architect: George B. Post
→ Atlas figures (called telamones) on the top story
→ Beaux-Arts style with columns and flourishes
→ Circular elevator lobby with six shafts

 

In the closing years of the 19th century, when Pittsburgh got its first two skyscrapers, both bore the names of steel magnates. The Carnegie Building and the Park Building were marvels of their time, both office towers soaring to 200 feet above Fifth Avenue on metal skeletons, with banks of newfangled elevators in their lobbies. But today only the skyscraper with the less famous moniker survives. 

The 15-story Park Building, on a prime parcel at Fifth Avenue and Smithfield Street, went up in 1896 (a year after the Carnegie Building opened a block away). It has outlived the 14-story headquarters of Andrew Carnegie’s steel company by 66 years, albeit with substantial plastic surgery; the windows originally featured iron scrollwork and retractable awnings and the rear side, once open to admit light to the interior court, was later filled in to create more rentable square footage. Classical details remain, however, including the 30 kneeling atlases hoisting the roof on their shoulders.
 

 
David Park (left) and George B. Post

 

Park inherited Black Diamond Steel Works from his father, James, who founded the factory at 30th Street in the Strip District. The Parks were in a different business from Carnegie; Black Diamond made crucible steel, a high-strength grade industrially forged by pounding with massive steam hammers (Black Diamond’s biggest hammer weighed 17 tons). Crucible steel was used for cutlery, scissors and piano wire. It was strong enough for the firebox plates of locomotive engines as well as the tools that mills such as Carnegie’s used to cut and shape hot steel rails and beams. In 1900, David Park merged his company with competitors to form Crucible Steel.

For his skyscraper, Park hired the celebrated New York architect George B. Post, who was fresh off the success of designing the enormous (but temporary) Manufactures and Liberal Arts Building at the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair. It would be an awesome sight even today, the length of two Heinz Fields.
 


 

Safety measures on the Park Building construction site were lacking. The first fatality occurred when a carpenter was crowded off a ladder amid the rush of the 5 o’clock whistle; he fell from the 11th floor stairwell to the new tile nine stories below. Later, a plasterer plunged three stories down a shaft. A third man was killed trying to exit a temporary freight elevator on the 15th floor as its pulley snapped.

The Park Building has been in steady use for well over a century, with a series of owners taking over since the family estate sold the building in 1958. Its current owners, E.V. Bishoff Co., bought the building in 1994. Ground floor tenants were once far ritzier than the McDonald’s and phone stores that currently occupy the Park Building’s streetfront level.
 


Atlas overlooks Mellon Park
 

Trimmed ladies’ hats at Danziger’s Millinery were “the loveliest that the art brains of the fashion world have created,” according to an announcement of the store’s grand opening in 1896. The restaurant Childs promised “succulent bivalves fresh from the oyster bar” in a 1931 ad, as well as “afternoon tea served by dainty maids.”  
 

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module

Edit Module Edit ModuleShow TagsEdit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module Edit ModuleShow Tags

The Latest

PG&H Brings Locally Made Home Goods to Downtown

The yearlong pop-up shop on Smithfield Street features everything from wall coverings to furniture, all crafted by local makers.

Your Ultimate Holiday Guide to Family Fun in Pittsburgh

We found the must-do events you should put on your holiday bucket list this year.

A Chess Phenom at 4, Pittsburgh Teen is King of Queen's Gambit

Ashley Lynn Priore is teaching young Pittsburghers chess so that they can empower themselves and their communities.

A 9-year-old's Nonprofit is Still Giving Back 12 Years Later

Started by college student Conner Hagins when he was 9 years old, Cuddles for Kids strives to brighten up the lives of hospital patients with toys, treats and special events.

PM on KD: Our December "Faith" Issue

Pittsburgh Magazine editor Brian Hyslop appeared on KDKA's Pittsburgh Today Live to discuss our December cover story on what local faith leaders say is how best to move forward in the wake of the Tree of Life tragedy.

Meet Pitt's Soft-Spoken Professor Who Writes Crime Novels

Writer Kathleen George’s sinister mysteries have created a dark, alternate Pittsburgh. In her latest, however, the heyday of the Hill District is brought to life.

Yes, Virginia, Christmas is Preserved and Restored in Oakmont

The volunteer-run Kerr Museum offers tours on Saturdays — with a festive twist for the holidays.

Catching Up With Rivendale Farms Susanna Meyer and Neil Stauffer

The two foundational figures of Pittsburgh's sustainable farming movement blend old-school know-how with forward-thinking practices at the Washington County farm.

MultiStories: Three Times a Bust – The German National Bank

The bank was at the center of a corruption scandal which eventually led to an overhaul of Pittsburgh city government.

Matters of the Heart

In a city of eds and meds, it’s to be expected that some couples are going to meet in the medical field. We found some of the best “meet-cutes” from recent Pittsburgh weddings.

At Scene75, Be a Kid (or Bring Your Kids)

The entertainment center in Edgewood is a great time with or without little ones.

Pitt Attaches Old-School Signature to Narduzzi’s Championship Prediction

Thanks to wide receivers recognized for their blocking ability and an offensive line endearingly referred to as “knuckleheads“ –– the Panthers are one win away from making their head coach's bold pre-season prediction a reality.

Pittsburgh Restaurant News: Reduced Hours and a Chef Change

Two Oakland restaurants now have shorter hours and a chef moves from Downtown to Lawrenceville.

What Unites Us In the Wake of the Tree of Life Tragedy

We asked local faith leaders for their response to the massacre at Tree of Life synagogue in Squirrel Hill –– and how we can come together and more forward as a community.

Pittsburgh Restaurant Review: Molinaro Ristorante

Ron Molinaro's Downtown restaurant offers high-end Italian dishes made with top-notch ingredients, but is it worth the price premium?
Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags


Your Ultimate Holiday Guide to Family Fun in Pittsburgh

Your Ultimate Holiday Guide to Family Fun in Pittsburgh

We found the must-do events you should put on your holiday bucket list this year.

Comments

PM on KD: Our December "Faith" Issue

PM on KD: Our December "Faith" Issue

Pittsburgh Magazine editor Brian Hyslop appeared on KDKA's Pittsburgh Today Live to discuss our December cover story on what local faith leaders say is how best to move forward in the wake of the Tree of Life tragedy.

Comments


All the foodie news that's fit to blog
Pittsburgh Restaurant News: Reduced Hours and a Chef Change

Pittsburgh Restaurant News: Reduced Hours and a Chef Change

Two Oakland restaurants now have shorter hours and a chef moves from Downtown to Lawrenceville.

Comments

How to Shop Like a Pro for Thanksgiving in Pittsburgh

How to Shop Like a Pro for Thanksgiving in Pittsburgh

Our guide to produce, pastries, libations and more will help your table brim with tasty treats from Pittsburgh-area businesses.

Comments


Not just good stuff. Great stuff.
Fitness: Five Great Trails to Run in the Fall in Pittsburgh

Fitness: Five Great Trails to Run in the Fall in Pittsburgh

Don’t resign yourself to the gym treadmills just yet – fall is one of the best times of the year to get outside and pound the pavement, surrounded by falling leaves and the possibility of grabbing a hot latte on the way home.

Comments

Love Sourdough? Find the Best There Is at These Five Bake Shops

Love Sourdough? Find the Best There Is at These Five Bake Shops

We dove into the local artisan bread scene to find the best places that bake naturally leavened bread in Pittsburgh.

Comments


At Scene75, Be a Kid (or Bring Your Kids)

At Scene75, Be a Kid (or Bring Your Kids)

The entertainment center in Edgewood is a great time with or without little ones.

Comments

Five Essential November Events in Pittsburgh

Five Essential November Events in Pittsburgh

Avian art, altruistic alt-rock and more November nights.

Comments


Mike Prisuta's Sports Section

A weekly look at the games people are playing and the people who are playing them.
Pitt Attaches Old-School Signature to Narduzzi’s Championship Prediction

Pitt Attaches Old-School Signature to Narduzzi’s Championship Prediction

Thanks to wide receivers recognized for their blocking ability and an offensive line endearingly referred to as “knuckleheads“ –– the Panthers are one win away from making their head coach's bold pre-season prediction a reality.

Comments

Steelers Have Changed the Narrative in Dramatic Fashion

Steelers Have Changed the Narrative in Dramatic Fashion

A defense that was groping to accomplish the simplest of tasks has started to dominate. The offense has stopped getting in its own way and started exploding scoreboards.

Comments


The movies that are playing in Pittsburgh –– and, more importantly, whether or not they're worth your time.
The 400-Word Review: Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald

The 400-Word Review: Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald

While Harry Potter diehards will find more than enough sustenance in the sequel, non-devotees may have a rough time following the action.

Comments

The 400-Word Review: The Ballad of Buster Scruggs

The 400-Word Review: The Ballad of Buster Scruggs

The Coen Brothers' western anthology is less than the sum of its parts, but it boasts some great tales.

Comments


Everything you need to know about getting married in Pittsburgh today.
Matters of the Heart

Matters of the Heart

In a city of eds and meds, it’s to be expected that some couples are going to meet in the medical field. We found some of the best “meet-cutes” from recent Pittsburgh weddings.

Comments

‘X’ Marks the Spot for This Wedding Scavenger Hunt

‘X’ Marks the Spot for This Wedding Scavenger Hunt

She thought she was going on a simple scavenger hunt. She never dreamed it would end with a wedding.

Comments


Weekly inspiration for your home from the editors of Pittsburgh Magazine
PG&H Brings Locally Made Home Goods to Downtown

PG&H Brings Locally Made Home Goods to Downtown

The yearlong pop-up shop on Smithfield Street features everything from wall coverings to furniture, all crafted by local makers.

Comments

Schoolhouse Electric Brings Hip Lighting, Coffee, to Pittsburgh

Schoolhouse Electric Brings Hip Lighting, Coffee, to Pittsburgh

The Portland, Ore-based lighting and furnishings store, which shares space with a high-end coffeehouse from the team behind The Vandal restaurant, is located in East Liberty's Detective Building.

Comments