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From the photo archives of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
December 2, 2013 8:00 PM   Subscribe

For over a year, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette has been digitizing old photos from its far-reaching library and putting them on a Tumblr called The Digs.

Locals will get more enjoyment out of glimpses into the past of some Pittsburgh neighborhoods (for instance, Oakland or East Liberty), but the Digs has plenty to offer anyone with an interest in the United States of the 1900s—or likes a good picture. Here are some posts to get you started, if you don't want to dive into the entire thing:
  • Look inside the H.J. Heinz facilities in 1904, and again in 1956. As a bonus, you will be treated to a shot of Heinz himself inspecting crops from a horse-drawn cart, and one of his childhood home being floated down the Allegheny River.
  • From the turn of the twentieth century: John C. Bragdon's often bleak "Pittsburgh Views", taken when the city was a major steel producer.
  • In April 1941, the city rehearsed a blackout in preparation for a possible air raid during World War II. Four years later, celebrants took to Fifth Avenue to mark V-J Day—only 26 years after soldiers who fought in World War I were welcomed home on the same street.
  • No Pittsburgh retrospective would be complete without a prodigious amount of sport, and the Digs does not disappoint. Limiting ourselves to baseball, we find, for a start, memories of a pennant race against the New York Giants in 1905, Babe Ruth's swan song at Forbes Field, and photos from Jackie Robinson's many trips to Pittsburgh.
  • Small curiosities abound. Read about the "tragic case" of the Brain Burglar, who underwent a prefrontal lobotomy in the hopes that it would cure him of his predilection for crime; local celebrities of the past, be they conspiracy theorists or dancing traffic cops; and the crowd drawn—and covered in smoke—by a steamboat race.
  • There were, of course, disasters: an overturned streetcar on Christmas Eve, 1917; the Great St. Patrick's Day Flood, the worst in Pittsburgh's history; and the lesser Flood of 1907.
For more—much more—from Pittsburgh's past, see the archives of Pittsburgh Courier photographer Teenie Harris (previously on the Blue, but here is the updated link).
posted by mcoo (9 comments total) 41 users marked this as a favorite

 
And there's W. Eugene Smith's photographs of Pittsburgh in the 1950's. Some of them are here.

I remember going to Pittsburgh's main Carnegie Library in the 1970's where one could just leaf through folders of Smith's prints of his Pittsburgh project, unsupervised, just pull out a drawer and there they were.
posted by tommyD at 8:32 PM on December 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


Been following this since I first saw it linked on some local blogs -- great stuff, even for a non-native like myself.

A few of my favorites:

Dawn of the Dead

Christmas Parade

Fog on the City

The Steelerettes

Lemieux on the Ice in Philadelphia

Jaromir Jagr's Mullet: A Retrospective
posted by tonycpsu at 8:37 PM on December 2, 2013


Yeeeeeeeeeees.
posted by chinston at 9:10 PM on December 2, 2013


There's a picture I've been dying to see again, which I think was taken sometime from the 30s to the 50s--I recall it was the 1940s, but I'm not sure--in any case, it was during the steel production years, and as I remember it, it's a scene of people walking on the street downtown with masks or scarves over their faces, and the sky dark: not because of winter weather, but because of the soot and smoke. It's always stayed with me and it stands in such stark contrast to what a beautiful city Pittsburgh is now. When I saw that photo it captured my imagination for weeks, and I really was able to reflect on the city's transformation from the grimy industrial economy to the economy now, which is centered substantially more on education and health care.

If anyone has any idea of what photograph I mean and can point me to it--in these archives or elsewhere--I'd be thrilled.
posted by MoonOrb at 9:25 PM on December 2, 2013


Give up, you hosers!
It's all over!


So much fun.
posted by Pudhoho at 10:32 PM on December 2, 2013


Thank you so much for this. These photos are interesting whether you have a Pittsburgh background or not.
posted by kinnakeet at 5:56 AM on December 3, 2013


Okay, you know that Kennedy Assination paper? My parents have a copy of that in a box in their garage.

I'm officially creeped out, and also, pretty much done working for the day.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 10:10 AM on December 3, 2013


Love this blog, been subscribing since it started. I'm pretty addicted to old photos of cities.
posted by octothorpe at 1:15 PM on December 3, 2013


Pittsburgh: where the past isn't dead, it's not even past.
posted by Chrysostom at 2:24 PM on December 3, 2013


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