Our 50 Years: A Look Back at Ads You Won't See Anymore

An “In Memoriam” segment for those products and services that are unlikely to ever advertise again.


Like nearly everything else, magazine publishing is an advertising-fueled business. Since our earliest issues, we’ve sold spots of all shapes and sizes to regional and national companies eager to sell their wares to you, the discerning ’Burgher. And our hard-working sales staff seeks to make sure that every relationship we build with an advertiser is a long-lasting one.

And yet, there are some things we just can’t sell you anymore.

Take the fifth page of our April 1977 issue. The death of the bookstore has been greatly exaggerated; we’re thrilled to have plenty of fine, independent booksellers in the region to this day. Yet I don’t think any of them will be buying a full page to offer synopses of new releases, as Atlantic Book Shops once did.

You could get Shirley MacLaine’s “You Can Get There From Here” for only $1.50! Or, perhaps, Joseph Wambaugh’s novel, “The Choirboys?” “Ten policemen meet after grueling work in L.A.’s toughest section for what they call ‘choir practice.’” But is it an actual choir? You’ll have to get to 545 Liberty Ave. to find out! (OK, the bookstore is gone, so I Googled the explanation: They drink and complain in a park.)

Not interested in hardcover potboilers at bargain prices? Then let’s flash forward to our September 1983 issue, where we made readers aware of the fact that they could, at absolutely any time, just up and buy an entire horse. Not even racing horses! The fancy kind!

“Lenehan & Sons is offering an opportunity for the acquisition, ownership and resale of Grandprix calibre show jumpers.” An address is offered for those seeking more information.

Listen: If you bought a horse because you became aware of equine availability in the pages of this magazine, please contact us. We’d like to buy you lunch.

Horses are far from the only living creatures advertised in our pages over the years, however. As late as the 1990s, we still offered personal ads to Steel City singles looking for love. For those too young to remember these black-and-white dating sections, personals — the only place in the world where “WWF” refers to neither animal rights nor professional wrestling — offer some of the most abbreviated attempts to define a human being ever printed. Like, say, “Tim Allen-type DWM, 40s, fun, fit, smart, secure.” Don’t you feel like you know him already? He’s voluntarily comparing himself to Tim Allen, and he can’t accurately identify his own age! Give him a call!

But what of 21st-century advertising? Surely if we pass into the new millennium, there won’t be any extinct advertisements in our pages, right?

The ads in the Pittsburgh Magazines of the aughts do look pretty familiar; we’re proud to say that many of the advertisers found in, say, our April 2005 issue are still with us today. But that certainly doesn’t mean that everything we were presenting a decade ago is still available to our readers.

There’s a big ad for Geauga Lake on page 101.  

Categories: From the Magazine, Then/Now