Founded in 1869, Boggs & Buhl department store marked its 84th anniversary of business in 1953. In the background is W.B. Dawson Co. Real Estate. (Pittsburgh Press photo) The Boggs & Buhl department store in 1953. (Pittsburgh Press photo) In 50 years of employment at Boggs & Buhl department store, Jewel Creedon, 72, never missed a day of work due to illness. This photo, dated  Feb. 13, 1958, appeared in The Pittsburgh Press. Interior of the store in 1953. (Photo credit unknown) This image from Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh shows horse-drawn delivery wagons waiting outside the store in 1900. This June 1960 photo by PG   photographer Morris Berman shows the destruction of the store.

February 1958: The North Side’s legendary Boggs & Buhl

For 89 years, Boggs & Buhl department store stood as a beacon of cozy commerce on the North Side.

The founders, Russell H. Boggs and Henry Buhl Jr., left their home town of  Zelienople and, in 1869, opened a one-room store at 512 Federal Street.

The partners prospered and later the store’s address was 115, 117, 119 and 121 Federal Street. Boggs & Buhl boasted 89 departments and offered cloaks and suits, fancy goods and art, jewelry and novelties, muslin, underwear, corsets, dresses, hosiery, gloves, seal plush wraps, heavy curtains and draperies.

The goods were first rate and so was the clientele. Customers included wealthy residents of Ridge Avenue with names such as Jones, Byers, Heinz, Arbuckle and Mesta. Nettie Gordon, a notorious North Side madam, outfitted her girls at the store and could always get credit.

The store felt so much like home to customers and employees that when it celebrated its 55th birthday in 1924, famous people wrote congratulatory letters. Among the well-wishers were steelmaker Charles Schwab, food merchant Howard Heinz and composer Victor Herbert.

Another big fan was best-selling mystery author Mary Roberts Rinehart, who grew up on the North Side and later led her three sons and a collie on visits to the store. She wrote an enthusiastic  letter recalling that her very own baby clothes, high school graduation outfit, furniture and housewares came from Boggs & Buhl.

“At Boggs & Buhl I saw my first book on display, bought there my very first magazine story in print,” Mary Roberts Rinehart wrote in her letter.

The store continued operating even after the death of its owners.

In the 1940s and 1950s, some North Side residents moved to homes in Ross, Shaler, McCandless or Hampton and took their business to suburban shopping centers in those new communities.

By 1955, the store struggled to retain business while the neighborhood around it deteriorated, becoming a place of dimly lit saloons, penny arcades and “girlie parlors.”

Boggs & Buhl closed its doors in February 1958, a blow to its more than 400 employees, 15 percent of whom had worked there for more than 30 years. Among the store’s alumni was Peggy Sebak, mother of Rick Sebak, who for years has been documenting Pittsburgh’s in a series of films for WQED.

In May 1960, the city’s Urban Redevelopment Authority leveled the building and created a parking lot for 185 cars. Later, Allegheny Center, the city’s $60 million answer to suburbia, rose on several parcels of land once occupied by Boggs & Buhl.

— Marylynne Pitz

Top picture: In February 1958, people wait to enter Boggs & Buhl department store to shop at its closing sale on the North Side. (Pittsburgh Press photo)

Tom Buschek, president of the Anti-Beatles Association. (Pittsburgh Press photo) Press coverage of the ABA formation.

Feb. 15, 1964: Pittsburgh’s Anti-Beatle Association

When The Pittsburgh Press published a story about the newly formed “Anti-Beatle Association,” the newspaper declined to reveal the addresses of the group’s officers.

The move was a precaution against “possible mayhem,” the article read.

Editors imagined rampaging throngs of angry teenage girls in knee socks, plaid skirts and sensible blouses.

The Anti-Beatles Assoc. was organized by three young men — a “cadre of copy boys for the Pittsburgh Press,” recalled one, Tom Buschek. Their slogan: “Don’t let the Beatles bug you!”

Buschek was 19 at the time, and conservative. “We were raised to be that way,” he recalled. He was president of the group.

The organization was formed soon after the Beatles stormed New York and appeared on “The Ed Sullivan Show” in early February 1964. A picture of Buschek trimming his crew cut with a large pair of scissors accompanied the Press article about the group’s formation.

ABA membership cost 50 cents, which was donated to charity. After six months, the group attracted members as distant as Iceland and Salt Lake City. A Press article in July 1964 reported an ABA donation of $72.45 to Children’s Hospital.

At the time, Buschek was preparing to attend Slippery Rock University. (He’d go on to graduate school at University of Pittsburgh and become a teacher).

Being a president of the ABA came with certain benefits, he recently recalled.

"It was a great way to meet babes,” he said. “If anything arose their ire, it was being an Anti-Beatle. They’d want to debate. After the debates, the romance would begin.”

Steve Mellon

The Beatles spent six hours in Pittsburgh in 1964. Read about the events of that day in a special PG online presentation.

A lone trolley passenger on Nov. 30, 1952. (Pittsburgh Press photo) Unidentified street scene, circa 1950. (Pittsburgh Press photo) West Park in the early morning, 1952. (Pittsburgh Press photo) An early morning picture of Forbes Field, dated July 24, 1967. (Al Hermmann/The Pittsburgh Press)

1952: The quiet city

Pittsburgh was home to 676,806 people in 1950, which leads us to believe the city was a crowded place. And noisy, with all those steel mills and trolleys and railroads rattling residents day and night.

But as these pictures show, people here were able to find moments of quiet and solitude amidst the din.

We found the images in a folder labeled “Pittsburgh Album.”

The “Album,” we discovered, was a weekly feature published in The Pittsburgh Press Roto magazine several decades ago. The feature was simple — usually a picture and a brief caption.

Sometimes the photographs highlighted the city’s quirky side. In one, a gardener holds a tomato that looks like it has a full set of oversized teeth — an oddity of nature. Another depicts a cabinet maker standing proudly next to his creation: a stainless steel rocket, propped up in his backyard.

We chose to post these pictures because they challenge our perceptions of what life in Pittsburgh was like in the 50s and 60s, when our city was home to twice as many people as now and the Renaissance was in full swing.

Most of the images are uncredited. But we’re thankful for the work of the largely unknown photographers who allow us to travel briefly back in time to experience the city in unexpected ways.

Steve Mellon

Top picture: A man waits in solitude for a trolley on a city street. (Pittsburgh Press photo)

Artist rendering of the ride in a primitive dirigible. (The Pittsburgh Press) Wearing her coat and hat and carrying a suitcase, Gertrude Gordon demonstrates her gadabout nature and the drive she had to pursue stories. (Pittsburgh Press photo) KDKA Radio personality Rege Cordic welcomes Gertrude Gordon as she boards a street car. (Pittsburgh Press photo) Gordon met Babe Ruth in  the 1920s. (Pittsburgh Press photo) In 1909, Gordon encountered Numa, one of seven lions who performed at the Hippodrome. She wrote an account of her visit to the lion cage for The Pittsburgh Press. (Pittsburgh Press photo) A young Gordon, left, and then in 1948. (Pittsburgh Press photos)

Circa 1908: Pittsburgh’s pioneering journalist

Gertrude Gordon, one of the first women journalists to earn a byline in a Pittsburgh newspaper, was fearless.

She was game to travel anywhere for a good story and once even entered a cage filled with circus lions for that purpose.

Her real named was Gertrude Kelley, but City Editor Harry M. Bitner christened her “Gertrude Gordon” soon after she joined The Pittsburgh Press in 1908.  Her weekly salary was $12 while some of her male counterparts earned $20 a week.

One day, she got into a balloon with two men on Flagstaff  Hill in Schenley Park. The balloon went up at 4:05 p.m., reached an altitude of 2,250 feet and descended, more than an hour later, on the E.K. Speer Farm in McKees Rocks. The adventure made her the first woman in Pittsburgh to go up in a balloon. Ten years later, in 1919, Ms. Gordon made a daredevil hop in an airplane.

What prepared this adventurous, talented woman for a life measured in column inches? By the time she joined The Pittsburgh Press staff, she had worked in a department store, demonstrated food products at the old Pittsburgh Exposition building and been employed in a biscuit factory, a tin factory and glass house. She read constantly even as she held down various jobs, including stenographer, domestic, laundress and cosmetics demonstrator.

Born in Mill Creek, Pa. on Sept. 3, 1882, she moved to Pittsburgh with her family when she was very young. Ms. Gordon’s mother, Anna Kelley, was a widow who supported the family by working as a seamstress.

Ms. Gordon worked at The Pittsburgh Press from 1908 until May 1927 when she moved to New York City. In 1949, she recounted the highlights of her career in a series for The Pittsburgh Press called “It’s Never 12 O’Clock.”

Among the famous people she interviewed were Amelia Earhart, Babe Ruth, Billy Sunday, Sarah ​Bernhardt, Mary Pickford, Theodore Roosevelt, George M. Cohan, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Honus Wagner. She interviewed Mr. Wagner at his hen house in Carnegie, the only place he was hitting “fowls” in those days and cooking dinner for Gentleman Jim Corbett, the heavyweight champion.

She covered the Willie Whitla kidnapping, the Westinghouse strike, the Westmoreland coal strike and the Marianna mine disaster. She also toured the North Side brothels of the famous madam Nora Lee and took a great circle trip through the Panama Canal to California.

She was 72 when she died in New York in 1955. That same year, a fund was established in her honor at the request of her close friend, attorney Ben Paul Brasley.  She rests next to her mother in Allegheny Cemetery. To this day, the Women’s Press Club of Pittsburgh awards an annual scholarship in her name.

— Marylynne Pitz

Top picture: Soon after joining The Pittsburgh Press in 1908, Gertrude Gordon made a seven-mile trip in a primitive dirigible. (Pittsburgh Press photo)

May 5, 1966: Elroy Face shows off his forkball grip. (The Pittsburgh Press) July 23, 1961: Smoky Burgess and his odd grip on the bat. Normally, the eight non-thumb knuckles align, with the handle away from the palms. (The Pittsburgh Press) Feb. 21, 1959: Burgess at spring training, his grip on display. (The Pittsburgh Press) April 16, 1961: Fork. Ball. Young Gene Face and his father, Elroy. It was a kitschy symbol of the pitch that made his father famous. (The Pittsburgh Press) July 30, 1968: Gene Face, seven years older in this photo and able to grip the ball sans fork, practices the forkball with his father. (Harry Coughanour/Post-Gazette) June 8, 1959: Face shows his sore fingers — presumably from throwing so many forkballs. (The Pittsburgh Press) June 25, 1961: Burgess dislocated a finger against Philadelphia, but it was probably not caused by an odd grip. Injured teammates Vern Law, left, and George Witt, right. (The Pittsburgh Press)

1960s: Pirates’ hands in detail

The Pirates are in the midst of a second consecutive run at the playoffs, and at the Post-Gazette we’re just as furiously making a run at digitizing thousands of historic Pittsburgh sports photos.

In doing so, we found seven images that show two Pirates of the past in great detail.

Specifically, they show Pirates’ hands.

They belong to two battery mates in Pittsburgh: catcher Smoky Burgess and relief pitcher ElRoy Face.

Burgess is notable because his hands appeared to hold a bat differently than most professional baseball players. Gripping the bat in one’s fingers, away from the palms and thereby lining up the knuckles is the quickest way to swing at a ball.

Burgess’ knuckles, however, did not line up in the more common fashion.

Apparently it didn’t matter for him; Burgess was often tapped to pinch hit for the Bucs, and he once set an MLB record with 507 pinch-hit appearances. He hit an impressive .285 off the bench.

In 1965, he held the highest lifetime batting average for a catcher and was known in Pittsburgh for a 6-for-18 performance at the plate in five 1960 World Series games.

Face’s fingers were long and spindly enough to throw a devastating forkball — a pitch that dropped straight down because of the split grip.

"Coming at you, it looked exactly like a fastball," Dick Groat said in a Pittsburgh Press story 20 years after Face’s retirement. A mechanic from childhood, Face didn’t start playing baseball until he was 15. He came late to the game but learned quickly.

Joe Page pitched in Pittsburgh during the final year of his career, and he taught Face the forkball that spring of 1954. It made him the pitcher he was out of the Pirates’ bullpen for the next 12 seasons, including in 1959 when he won 17 straight games. That’s still the longest such single-season streak for a reliever.

Face had a contentious relationship with fans at Forbes Field: “They can boo me all they want, as long as we win,” he told Lester Biederman of The Pittsburgh Press in August 1963. “I figure the fans pay their money, let ‘em boo.”

For both players, the unorthodox styles fell into that magical baseball category: whatever works. Ty Cobb gripped the bat with his hands apart. Roberto Clemente never owned a fundamental swing, but rather one so violent that when he connected, good things happened. Burgess, who died in 1991 at age 64, may have used an odd grip, possessed a wide girth, and owned a reputation for swinging at pitches over his head, but he retired with a .295 lifetime average.

As Biederman wrote in March 1965: “Somebody once described Burgess in a white Pirate uniform as a walking laundry bag since he’s short and round and stout. But nobody—nobody—ever kidded Smoky about his hitting.”

Nor did they kid Face, who turned 86 this year, about his forkball fingers.

Ethan Magoc

1928: The second floor of The Pittsburgh Press building. (Press photo) May 1963: Artist Glenn Heydt and a copy boy among the air conditioning pipes. (The Pittsburgh Press) May 1963: From left, business editor Bill Allan, chief photographer Ray Gallivan and copy editor Julian Whitener oversee the chaos of the former features department during a renovation. (Press photo) September 1963: Looking from the  newsroom into the advertising department. (The Pittsburgh Press) Sept. 22, 1981: Workers install new office equipment in the newsroom. (Andy Starnes/The Pittsburgh Press) December 1982: A tour group takes a look at a Press computer. (Tony Kaminski/The Pittsburgh Press) July 30, 1981: The classified advertising department of The Pittsburgh Press. (Kent Badger/The Pittsburgh Press) 2014: A look at the former Pittsburgh Press and current Post-Gazette newsroom. (Ethan Magoc/Post-Gazette)

A newsroom in transition

The Post-Gazette’s newsroom on the second floor of 34 Boulevard of the Allies has gone through quite a transformation since the building first opened for The Pittsburgh Press in 1927. We combed through our archives and traced its evolution, from the days when a suit and vest were expected newsroom attire to major renovations of the space in the 1960s and ’80s.

One of the oldest photos we found depicts a different era (a staff member actually wrote “old” on the back of the print some years ago). A group of men, all dressed in vests and ties, sit reading and making calls, newspapers and scissors littering the desks. It’s the same floor that Post-Gazette reporters work on today, but the scene couldn’t be more different. Technology, for one, has come along way, and you’d be hard-pressed to find a reporter who walks into work in 2014 wearing such a formal getup.

Press reporters worked around air conditioning pipes in the early 1960s, when updates to the editorial department’s space made it appear a construction site. One photo from May 1963 depicts an artist busy at work with stacks of the metal pipes behind him as the copy boy looked on. In another, the Press’s business editor, its chief photographer and a member of the copy desk stand between stacks of pipes, chatting in what was once the features department.

In one more from the era, a staff member leans in his chair alongside the aisle that connected the editorial and advertising rooms. As the photo shows, it was a mix of the traditional desk set up with curtains blocking sight of the construction: a newsroom in transition.

Fast forward to the 1980s, and more changes attracted locals to tour the newsroom and the building’s presses. Press staffers in 1982 showed off their computer monitors, which look bulky now; that technology crowded the desk of the Press’s classified advertising department in this shot from July 1981. 

Since then, we’ve rearranged some furniture and replaced terminals and keyboards, but it’s not so hard to recognize the Post-Gazette newsroom today in those photos.

Take a look at a more recent shot and see for yourself.

—Madeline Conway

1901: "Pennsylvania Railroad Station"

These walls witnessed many hellos and goodbyes, many arrivals and departures, many iterations of train designs and quite a few dramatic twists and turns in evolution of rail-based travel in America.

Pennsylvania Railroad Station, also known among Pittsburghers as The Pennsylvanian, Union Station and more frequently as Penn Station, was conceived as a train station by Chicago architect Daniel Burnham. Construction started in 1898 and was completed five years later.

The station at 10th Street and Liberty Avenue began its operation on October 12, 1901.

As America’s railroad industry shrunk so did the number of carriages and passengers in the glamorous waiting hall beneath Penn Station’s rotunda.  Although the building still hosts an active Amtrak station, the rail services occupy only a small portion of the Liberty Avenue site. 

Nowadays, it’s more of a pantheon — a monument, if you will — to the glamorous promises and glorious days of railroads in America. 

Today Amtrak offers only two trains departing from Pittsburgh, The Capitol Ltd. and the Pennsylvanian. According to reviews posted on Yelp, the train station itself "could use a facelift.” Last renovation dates to 1988. Annual ridership of Pittsburgh’s Penn Station is estimated at 135,137 (2013).

The extravagant building with the famous rotunda in Downtown Pittsburgh was never meant to become a place for weddings or a luxury apartment complex. But, hey, it could have been more unusual — in the 1970s, the Council of Allegheny County proposed the building to be the site of the then-planned David L. Lawrence Convention Center. Yep.

In our archive, among photos we found in a folder marked “Penn Station” one in particular says it all: “Looking through the broken window of the boarding gate onto a vacant platform (Al Hermann, December 1971).”

— Mila Sanina

At Primanti Bros. in the Strip, 1979, Morris Berman/Post-Gazette Primanti Bros., 1996, Associated Press Rondey Oliviero of Primanti Bros. serves up famous cheesesteak sandwiches complete with fries and coleslaw at Three Rivers Stadium, 1994, Martha Rial/Post-Gazette

1933: Primanti Bros.

It started as a sandwich place for hungry truckers and became a signature diner where you are guaranteed to learn what a quintessential Pittsburgh sammich stands for. 

Call it a belly bomb. Primanti’s Bros. sandwich is a Pittsburgh institution. You say it’s bad for you? With coleslaw, fresh grilled meat and tomatoes? C’mon… And as far as many Pittsburghers are concerned, fries are made of potatoes, and potatoes are vegetables. So there. 

Not convinced? Well, then you must have missed the news that Primanti’s sandwich once earned a title of the best sandwich in America AND in 2010, ranked PNC Park as the best ballpark in the country largely because they offer Primanti’s sandwiches complete with “generous servings of roast beef, cheese, coleslaw and — this is the key — French fries all between two buns.” The reviewer wrote, “I bet Willie Stargell ate them for breakfast.”  

One more? Primanti Brothers made the list of “1,000 Places to See Before You Die in the USA.” Just do not die there due to cholesterol overdose. 

It all began in the Strip District in 1933 at 18th and Smallman as a small family business founded by one of the brothers named Joe Primanti, a Pennsylvania native. His brothers Dick and Stanley and their nephew John DePriter joined the business right away.

The signature sandwich was a Depression-era invention and this is how the composition or, as some would probably call it — the concoction, came about, according to a story allegedly told by John DePriter himself: “One winter, a fella drove in with a load of potatoes. He brought a few of ‘em over to the restaurant to see if they were frozen. I fried the potatoes on our grill and they looked pretty good. A few of our customers asked for them, so I put the potatoes on their sandwiches.” The rest, as they say, is history.”  

The Primanti Bros. chain has been feeding Pittsburghers and visitors to the city for more than 80 years. When it opened, it served primarily the late-night crowd. First, the customers were workers who unloaded produce in the Strip; in the 1970s, the Post-Gazette called Primanti’s customers “night hawks from all walks of life.” Today, there are 17 Primanti Brothers diners in the Pittsburgh area and three locations in Florida.

For a few years, the Post-Gazette had a tradition of running “readers’ choice for the best sandwiches in Pittsburgh.” We determined that several years in a row, Primanti’s sandwiches won and our guess is that the newspaper stopped the contest due to readers’ choices, which would predictably come from Primanti Brothers’ menu.  

— Mila Sanina

(Top image: Pittsburgh policeman, Wayne Wilson, of Morningside, bites into his favorite Primanti’s Brothers sandwich, pastrami, egg, with the slaw and fries, lettuce and tomato, our readers’ choice for the best sandwich in Pittsburgh, 1993, John Heller/Post-Gazette)

1930: The Cathedral of Learning construction. (University of Pittsburgh archives) 1935: The Cathedral of Learning nearly completed. (The Pittsburgh Press) Edward B. Lee, an architect who lived where the Cathedral of Learning was built, sent a 1929 Christmas Card lamenting the new structure. (Credit: University of Pittsburgh Press) (Credit: University of Pittsburgh Press) 1983: The official Spirit of Achievement for children who gave 10 cents to help fund the Cathedral's construction. (Thomas Ondrey/The Pittsburgh Press)

1926-1935: Cathedral of Learning construction

Where today towers one of Pittsburgh’s most recognizable landmarks once stood a little house.

In our archive, we found a copy of a 1929 Christmas card from Edward B. Lee, whose home once sat squarely where the University of Pittsburgh built the Cathedral of Learning in the 1920s and ’30s. Mr. Lee lost his property when the Cathedral went up, and he didn’t hesitate to express his dissatisfaction with the construction.

The card features a sketch of a two-story home with a smoking chimney. It would be pleasant if it weren’t superimposed over a photograph of the towering Cathedral, then mostly scaffolding, under construction. The card bids the house adieu.

“Our first Xmas card was made in this little house in nineteen-nineteen,” it reads. “Good-bye, little happy house, good-bye.”

Today, the Cathedral stands at 42 stories and 535 feet tall. As you can imagine, putting the building together wasn’t easy, and Press photographs from the 1920s and ’30s show us the evolution of the now-famed building.

The building process was pretty drawn out. As Pitt administrators faced budgetary hurdles in the midst of the Great Depression, the Cathedral’s construction stopped and started. Although Pitt’s chancellor commissioned the project in 1921, the project didn’t conclude for another 13 years.

Construction began in 1926, thanks in part to the 97,000 local school children who each donated 10 cents to the effort (see our copy of the certificate one student received in exchange for her help). The steel part of the structure rose in 1929, but a shortage of funding meant that construction would have to pause before its 1937 dedication.

For years, scaffolding towered over Oakland. In this June 1930 photo, about half of the building looks familiar, but the rest is less pretty. Another Press photo, this time from 1935, shows us that workers finished the middle floors of the building’s exterior first. And although Pitt had polished most of the Cathedral, weeds and dirt scattered the ground around it, a far cry from what the campus looks like today.

With that in mind, it’s not too surprising that the years of construction evoked a negative response from residents like Mr. Lee.

Still, there were optimists. James C. Boudreau, the art director of Pittsburgh schools, proclaimed in a February 1928 issue of The Press that the Cathedral, then still under construction, would “express in tangible beauty the real spirit of Pittsburgh, the city that stands for steel and iron plus.”

“Do not spend your thoughts trying to seek out undesirable features that may come with this creative venture,” he warned. “Some few of them may even become realities yet we can be confident that they will be so thoroughly engulfed by myriads of desirable features that they will soon be as nothing.”

—Madeline Conway

And now for something completely different…

Updated, Aug. 25: We received a bevy of responses on Friday and over the weekend in response to one of these two mysteries.

That phrase on the back of the first image is indeed “Celebration 9 ft channel.” It refers to the completion of the series of Ohio River canals that would ensure at least a 9-foot depth for river passage from Pittsburgh to Cairo, Ill.

One of many reader responses came from Richard Schutte, who provided a detailed description of the project and its purpose. He wrote:

Remember at this time the rivers did not have significant locks and dams for navigable waterways. My father born in 1922 told me how as a child he could walk across portions of the Ohio River. Flood control for Pittsburgh did not occur until after the Great St. Patrick’s Day Flood in 1936.This event was a huge improvement in river transportation for the time.

Mr. Schutte also noted the time of year (October) and chilly morning during which the photograph was made. He even found an alternative angle of the celebration.

Our image was likely taken from one of the decks of that riverboat.

Perhaps the most interesting item here is the photograph’s date: just one week before “Black Thursday” and the onset of the Great Depression. One can also see — in the full resolution version — two or three young boys waving at the camera near the river’s shore.

They were part of a crowd of 100,000 in Pittsburgh that day, according to The Pittsburgh Press, and President Herbert Hoover marked the engineering achievement the following week with a speech in Louisville.

Back to the shelf this goes. (In addition to Mr. Schutte, thanks to William Baldauf, Glenn Heberle, Audrey Iacone, Justin Reese, Jon Schmitz, Al Slowik, Justin Wotus and Rank & Filed for handwriting deciphering and storytelling assistance.)

As for the other image, no one has yet found an answer. We’ll keep looking, too.

Original story, Aug. 22: After our office flood last month, we decided to take a step back and reevaluate our archive digitizing.

It didn’t affect the mission of “The Digs,” except to perhaps increase our ambition and pace.

Still, the water spill did require plenty of cleaning and reorganizing. During recovery, we came across about 4,000 photos in a box that had not been refiled into folders for about a decade.

You can’t digitize what you don’t know exists, and so it took about six weeks, but the last image will be put back in its place next week.

The thousands of miscellaneous photos contained caption details on the back.

Two, however, did not.

And so we present to you these images in hope of you helping us find their story and their proper home in our archive.

The first photo is, we believe, of the Mon Wharf. Thousands of Depression-era Pittsburghers gathered for… something. The reverse side is visible in the second image.

Celebration of channel? Abraham of Channel? Elilsabra after Channel?

The date is legible: 1929. The rest: not so much. Here’s a full resolution version of the gathering.

The second image contained more intelligible writing. Its caption: “Frank Peekes (the cursive leads one to also think his name could be Peckes?) coming up out of old well in back of garage.”

There’s a police constable. A ladder. A few men in overalls. And it’s clearly a scene of relief. The man has been saved.

But who is the man? Why was he in the old well? When did this happen? Internet searches are of no help for “Pittsburgh” and either “Frank Peckes” or “Frank Peekes.”

Do you know the story behind either image? Leave us a note here or send an email to

Ethan Magoc

PG coverage of the announcement. This Tim Menees cartoon was published in the PG on Sept. 9. Rob Rogers, then with The Pittsburgh Press, published this piece on Sept. 8. A few of the critical letters.

September 1991: Mayor Masloff’s brutal month

Mayor Sophie Masloff once offered Pittsburgh a grand idea. People hated it. Their rage flared in letters to the city’s newspapers.

“Where did she get this hare-brained idea?” asked a man from the South Side.  “… if she thinks we should spend our hard-earned tax money on this, she’s senile.”

"I’m so angry I can barely see the paper I’m writing on," wrote a woman from Bethel Park.

Masloff proposed an old-fashioned baseball stadium on the North Shore. The idea of an “old fashioned” park was shocking at the time. Baltimore’s throwback ballpark, Camden Yards, wouldn’t open for another six months.

“Didn’t we used to have an old-fashioned baseball stadium?” wrote an Aspinwall resident. “In Oakland, wasn’t it? Oh, gee, that’s right; we tore it down.”

The ballpark’s price tag, estimated at $100 million to $130 million, miffed a lot of folks. Pittsburgh faced a projected $35 million deficit and was preparing to hand out pink slips to a number of city employees.

It was, in fact, a difficult time throughout much of Western Pennsylvania.

“How can the mayor make such a proposal when the Mon Valley needs help ..?” wrote a man from Duquesne. That town’s steel mill closed  several years earlier, but a few rusted sheds remained as reminders of what had been lost.

“I had a good laugh the other day,” wrote a guy from the North Hills. “… Masloff wants to build a new stadium. What a joke that is … Does she think it’s as easy as going out and buying a new dress?”

Newspaper editorials were somewhat gentler. The PG, while wondering where the money would come from, urged folks not to dismiss the idea “out of hand.”

The Press couldn’t figure out where it stood. “We cannot at this point say that the mayor’s idea is a bad one. But neither can we say it’s a good one.”

Masloff endured the ridicule and jokes for two weeks. That was enough.

“I’ve been in public life 40 years,” she said. “Nothing I’ve ever taken on … has ever concerned and confused people as much as this has. I’m amazed by it.”

On Sept. 16, 1991, she announced she’d abandoned the plan.

“Every once in a while I get carried away with an idea,” she explained.

Officials broke ground for PNC Park 8½ years later.

Steve Mellon

Top picture: Michael Lamb, then an aide to Pittsburgh City Councilman Michael Coyne, looked over a rendering of the proposed ballpark. (John Beale/Post-Gazette)

Clean cut Bradshaw when he first came to Pittsburgh in 1970. (Pittsburgh Press photo) Bradshaw clowned with first wife Melissa in 1972. (Pittsburgh Press photo) Bradshaw clowning with a Bengal mascot in 1972. (Pittsburgh Press photo) Boys from the local press and Bradshaw in a snowball fight in 1976. (Pittsburgh Press photo) Mercury Records released this image of Bradshaw as a country music singer in the mid 1970s. Bradshaw and wife JoJo Starbuck celebrated victory in Super Bowl XIII in 1979. (Associated Press photo)

1970: Terry Bradshaw — Pittsburgh’s biggest star

One day in 1970 Terry Bradshaw walked into the LaMont LeMont Restaurant on Mt. Washington with Miss Teenage America on his arm.

Everyone in the place yelped and applauded.

Bradshaw was amused.

Later someone suggested the applause was for the beautiful young woman in his company. “Hey,” Bradshaw said. “I never thought of that.”

That was Bradshaw. Cocky, but in a manner that was endearing instead of annoying. It was his schtick.

Bradshaw came to us with a twinkle in his blue eyes and a sort of goofy “aw, shucks” innocence. Didn’t smoke, didn’t drink. At the Roosevelt Hotel, he ordered grits and scrambled eggs for his pre-game meals. He was a southern boy, you know.

And he was photogenic. His yellow hair, square face and dimpled chin drew the attention of a Harper’s Bazaar magazine editor, who flew him to New York for a fashion shoot. He wore his new Steelers jersey, delivered in person by an executive from the team’s front office.

“Boy, that’s pretty, that really is,” Bradshaw said when he held up what was, at the time, considered one of the NFL’s ugliest uniforms.

It seemed he was a star everywhere but back home in Louisiana. A car dealer there paid him $400 to make an appearance at a dealership to sign autographs. Four people showed up.

In Pittsburgh, he got 20 to 30 pieces of fan mail each day. He replied to each by sending a signed 6x9 picture of himself poised to throw a football.

Someone wrote to him, “You’re as cocky as Joe Namath” and that drew a reaction from Bradshaw. “I musta said something along the line that people associated with cockiness,” he told a sports writer. “I hate for them to get such ideas.”

Surely he winked when he said it.

Pictures in the PG archives reveal Bradshaw as a guy who loved to have a good time — and be photographed. He clowned with mascots, got into snowball fights with boys from the local newspapers, struck silly poses in the locker room.

In 1975, he told music agent Tilleman Franks he liked to sing. Sang solos in church, sang along to country records at home. “And you ain’t heard nothing, boy, till you’ve heard me.” His cover of the Hank Williams classic “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry” was released in 1976 and became a Top 20 hit on the country charts. On Youtube, you can view his lip-synching gigs on those awful ‘70s TV variety shows.

TV producers asked him to sing the tune during a special “All Star Salute” the night before Super Bowl XIII in 1979. His then-wife Jo Jo Starbuck would skate while Bradshaw crooned. It probably seemed like a good idea at the time.

Then, beginning in the late 1970s, came the movies — among them the Burt Reynolds comedies “Hooper,”  “The Cannonball Run,” and “Smokey and the Bandit II.” On television, he mostly played himself on shows like “Married … with Children” and “Everybody Loves Raymond.”

His football skills landed him in the sport’s Hall of Fame. His antics before a camera got him a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Bradshaw has got to be laughing at that last honor. We can laugh, too. We’re all in on the joke.

(Watch Bob Dvorchak’s take on the Bradshaw years in this week’s edition of Sports ‘n ‘at.)

Steve Mellon

Top picture: Bradshaw waves goodbye to fans in 1975. (Robert Pavuchak/Pittsburgh Press)

Nov. 11, 1949: Gibsonia patrolman James. W. Homison and Chief Ed Sherwood raided a four-man, 13-still bootleg factory. (The Pittsburgh Press) Sept. 9, 1955: Allegheny County police dump out moonshine they found in the thick woods of Richland Township. (The Pittsburgh Press) Oct. 23, 1955: An Alcohol Tax Unit agent uses an axe to dump moonshine whisky, which sold for about $1 a pint with no tax. (The Pittsburgh Press) May 7, 1958: Authorities spill gallons of moonshine off the porch of a Pittsburgh home. (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette) May 22, 1958: Authorities dump a barrel out the window of an abandoned building used as a moonshine distillery. (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette) June 7, 1958: Authorities dump a giant moonshine cocktail out the window of the former Cinderella Gardens in Millvale. (The Pittsburgh Press) Feb. 21, 1963: The aftermath of a Hill District moonshine raid. (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette) June 14, 1964: How does this relate to moonshine? Brady, a friendly Great Dane was to watch out for revenue agents. Instead, she greeted agent Harold Silber with a pawshake. (The Pittsburgh Press) Sept. 25, 1968: Robert R. Ridley of the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax Division displays automatic weapons used in a moonshine operation. (Anthony Kaminski/The Pittsburgh Press)

1940s-1970s: Moonshine waterfalls near Pittsburgh

When a moonshine bust was to be made in the mid-20th century, distillers could be certain of two things.

First, the investigating law enforcement agency would make an example of them, flipping or hacking apart barrels and creating glorious waterfalls of mash.

Second, any and all media members — especially newspaper photographers — were guaranteed to be in tow.

Decades later, the mutual excitement surrounding one of these busts is obvious on policemen’s faces and in a published photograph’s angle or caption.

Moonshine was illegal then and remains so today because its makers don’t pay state taxes. Moreover, health departments cannot inspect their operations, an obvious health hazard.

As George Swetnam of The Pittsburgh Press wrote in the 1970s, “…beginning in 1862, during Civil War days, came the Department of Revenue, and moonshiners have been in business ever since.”

In Pittsburgh, the brews were generally made in rural areas around or outside Allegheny County, “where the smell doesn’t bother anyone,” as city police inspector William Moore said in 1975.

They were then brought into city speakeasies and other illegal drinking locales; this was still the case long after the end of prohibition. The busts gradually declined in number in the second half of the 20th century — perhaps because of the negative press examples, but more likely because there were just better jobs to be had then.

By the early 1980s, only a dozen Pittsburgh-area moonshine busts had been made in five years. Drugs like cocaine and eventually methamphetamine, considered under state and federal law to be more dangerous than alcohol, became the more common source of illegal income and thus a cause for more arrests than was moonshine.

And at the end of the 1980s, according to the Associated Press, moonshine-making seemed more a problem inside Pennsylvania prisons than outside.

Ethan Magoc

1790s: The old courthouse and market, which opened in 1794 and were taken down in 1852. (Historical Society of Western Pennsylvania) September 1946: Pittsburgh's Diamond Market House. (Pittsburgh Press) October 7, 1961: Pittsburgh's Diamond Market House. (Pittsburgh Press) February 21, 1961: A proposed model for a shopping and entertainment area designed for Market Square. (George Bower/Post-Gazette) October 29, 1977: The Hartzell Memorial Fountain, which was removed in 1990. (Ed Morgan/Pittsburgh Press) September 9, 1980: Overhead view of Market Square. (Andy Starnes/Pittsburgh Press) April 9, 1990: Market Square as it stood in 1990 with Forbes Avenue running left to right through the center of the photo. (Susie Post/Pittsburgh Press)

Market Square: Pittsburgh’s original gathering space

You might think of Pittsburgh’s Market Square as a gathering place for businessmen and women navigating the daily lunchtime rush, as a home to cooing pigeons snacking on crumbs or even as an unintentional ice skating rink in winter.

While Market Square might not look the same as when it was first constructed, one thing stayed the same: it has remained Pittsburgh’s restless epicenter.

The conception of Market Square dates back to 1784 when Philadelphia surveyors George Woods and Thomas Vickroy sought to create a central location for the city of Pittsburgh. It was originally known as the “Diamond,” a name typical for 18th and 19th century Pennsylvania town centers. Within the Diamond, the original Market House was built around 1794.

According to a 1982 edition of the Pittsburgh Press, the Market was replaced in 1853 by a building that “served as Pittsburgh’s City Hall, as an armory for the 17th Pennsylvania Regiment and briefly as a hospice for Civil War Soldiers.”

Moving into the early 20th century, the Diamond Market was constructed to take up all four quadrants of the Diamond Street-Market Street intersection. The Market House, as it was known, provided Pittsburghers with a lively grocer, florist and baker scene.

The building stood until October 1961, when it was razed to make room for grass, benches, and walkways. Four large grass quadrants were carved from Forbes and Market Street, which ran through the square.

Market Square gained another addition in 1977 — the granite Hartzell Memorial Fountain, constructed in 1909. Inscribed with the words, “For Man, Beast and Bird,” it stood in the square until 1990 and was used as a birdbath, public water fountain and sometimes a place for the homeless to wash up.

Much of what we see today in Market Square was constructed throughout the 1980s. Most notably, Pittsburgh’s iconic PPG tower was built with five surrounding buildings in 1984.

Today, the grass quadrants are paved over and seating accommodations fill what Pittsburghers think of as a reliable Downtown hangout spot.

Emily Kaplan

May 24, 1953: Rev. Paul Ubinger returns to Pittsburgh after two years in Chinese captivity.

Stories of emotional returns to Pittsburgh are abundant in the Post-Gazette archives. So are images capturing those moments of reunion and the faces that once lost hope of seeing one another. The pictures depict embraces, which before seemed so unlikely, and expressions that glow with a newfound belief that miracles happen and that the worst fears are past. These photographs inspire a response: a smile, a quiet cheer or maybe even a tear.

A story and images of The Rev. Paul Ubinger’s return are examples.

Father Ubinger was a Pittsburgh priest who, for almost 30 years, served as a missionary in China. In 1950, the Iron Curtain rang down and the Chinese government captured and jailed him in Uanling, Honan Province, where he was stationed. Father Ubinger’s arrest was a deliberate step by Chinese Communists to discredit priesthood and show their stance against U.S. missionaries in their country.

Very little was known about The Rev. Ubinger’s condition in jail at the time. Two years later, when he was finally released, he described his time in captivity as “two years in he-l-l” and detailed the torture and unfair trials he had been subjected to.

Father Ubinger was not the only one who suffered through those days, although he may have suffered the most. He did live to see the day of his release. One of his closest relatives and a soulmate, Miss Magdalene Ubinger, did not. She had never gotten a chance to witness her nephew’s return.”Last word Miss Magdalene Ubinger heard from her missionary-nephew in China was an Easter greeting,” her obituary read a year before Rev. Ubinger’s release,”among her last prayers was a plea for the safe-keeping of the captive priest.”

Miss Ubinger helped her nephew through when he made his career choice. A prominent educator for almost 50 years, she served as his mentor and followed with pride Father Ubinger’s work in China. He helped operate a Christian school there and, according to one of the relatives, “the correspondence between the pair read like a schoolmaster’s holiday.”

There is a photo in the Ubinger file in the PG archives showing Father Ubinger with his aunt Magdalene — the one before the tragic imprisonment. Magdalene was not there with the family greeting with enthusiasm Rev. Ubinger upon arrival in Pittsburgh. Being there was her only wish that was not meant to come true.

— Mila Sanina