Pittsburgh Curiosities: The Westinghouse Atom Smasher
Our monthly look at oddities around the region.
It’s a beautiful summer evening, and you’re sitting on your porch admiring the view … of an atom smasher.
The Westinghouse Atom Smasher, part of an early experiment in atomic energy, lies in a brownfield along a residential street in an otherwise unassuming neighborhood in Forest Hills.
The five-story, pear-shaped structure is actually the first industrial Van de Graaff generator — a type of particle accelerator developed in the 1920s for physics research, created by Westinghouse Research Labs. It remained in use until 1958. In 2015, a Washington, D.C., developer who had purchased the property had the atom smasher taken off of its brick pedestal and laid on its side, much to the chagrin of locals who wanted to see it preserved.
386 Avenue A, Pittsburgh, PA 15221