Fitzpatrick in a 1951 photo. (Photo credit unknown) Fitzpatrick at his victorian home on Fifth Avenue in Oakland. (Pittsburgh Press photo) Fitzpatrick as artist of the year in 1973. (Ed Morgan/The Pittsburgh Press) Fitzpatrick at his home in 1988. (Tom Ondrey/The Pittsburgh Press)

April 27, 1971: Pittsburgh’s legendary art teacher

For 50 years, the urbane Joseph C. Fitzpatrick taught Saturday art classes in Oakland’s Carnegie Music Hall, where he inspired generations of Pittsburgh children “to look, to see, to remember, to enjoy.”

Each “Tam O’ Shanter” class ended with that admonition and many students took it seriously. At 6 feet 2 inches tall, the silver haired, blue-eyed Irishman had no trouble commanding the attention of fifth, sixth and seventh grade students from public and private schools. He wore suits, an air of confidence and spoke with a firm voice.

His successful students included Andy Warhol, Philip Pearlstein, Raymond Saunders, Mel Bochner, Jonathan Borofsky, Holly Brubach and Annie Dillard. Donald Miller, the Post-Gazette’s retired art and architecture critic, also was a graduate of his classes.

The son of a mine foreman and the youngest of 10 children, Fitzpatrick grew up in Williamstown, northeast of Harrisburg. As a child, he asked his older sisters to explain art to him. Their unclear answers led him to read about his favorite subject.

That was the start of a career filled with teaching, drawing, painting, sculpting and collecting. He earned a bachelor’s degree in art education from Edinboro State College in 1931. He received a master’s degree from Columbia University in 1934. In 1938, he took a grand tour of the art collections in Europe. Later in life he traveled to Africa and the Mideast and also tramped through the pyramids of Egypt.

For more than three decades, he taught art in Pittsburgh’s public schools, where he spent 33 years.

In the late 1950s, Fitzpatrick created a 13-week series called “World of Art.” for public television station WQED. The half-hour programs aired on WQED and 25 other public television stations. He was the painter, sculptor, researcher, narrator and script writer. The series explained art to the layman, beginning with paintings by cave men and continuing to the modern era.

He was named artist of the year in 1973. In 1988, 800 of his former students stood and applauded enthusiastically when he walked onto the Carnegie Music Hall stage once again. On that same occasion, he was honored with a champagne brunch held in Carnegie Museum of Art’s Hall of Architecture.

A bachelor, Fitzpatrick lived much of his life in a Victorian-era townhouse at 2707 Fifth Ave., where he gardened, listened to classical music and painted. He never owned a car so he walked or took taxis. He was 86 when he died in 1994 at a nursing home in Saint Mary’s, Elk County.

During a 1974 interview, he reminisced about his most famous student.

“I can remember getting Andy Warhol to do a lot of pencil portraits at a demonstration. He was good — he’s shocking people now but he always had talent.”

— Marylynne Pitz

Top picture: Fitzpatrick, art supervisor at the Carnegie Institute, with award-winning high school artists in 1971. (Kent Badger/The Pittsburgh Press)

An arrow in this photo pointed to where the diamond used to be. (Robert J. Pavuchak/Pittsburgh Press) This was the front-page Pittsburgh Press story about the theft Kurt Fischer read in July 1981. August 1984: Kurt Fischer worked as a Pittsburgh city detective for 10 years. The missing Carnegie Museum diamond was one of the cases he never solved. (Thomas Ondrey/The Pittsburgh Press) August 1984: The Pittsburgh Press ran a large magazine spread with Fischer featured prominently on the steps of the Carnegie Museum three years after the theft. (Thomas Ondrey/The Pittsburgh Press)

1981: Pittsburgh’s unsolved diamond theft

Pittsburgh city detective Kurt Fischer was reading the Sunday paper on July 26, 1981, when a story about the Carnegie Museum of Natural History caught his eye.

“Museum ‘Out’ $75,000 Gem,” read a Pittsburgh Press headline.

“I sure hope to heck I don’t get that one,” thought Fischer.

On Monday morning, when he walked into his office, the case was his.

“I knew it was going to be a bear,” Fischer said in a phone conversation yesterday. “Sometimes you get the easy ones.”

And other times you’re tasked with finding a pale-yellow, 16-carat diamond from India valued at $75,000. The gem apparently went missing on Friday afternoon, July 24, 1981, but officials discovered the loss on Saturday during a daily walk-through.

Later in the week, Fischer received a call from a woman. She said her husband had recently been jailed in Pittsburgh, and while there he met a man who was bragging about stealing a giant diamond. The man had since been released, was living back in Erie, and police there knew him well.

Stealing a diamond sounded like something the man might do, Erie detectives told Fischer.

It was the best lead he would get on the case, and it went nowhere. The Pittsburgh chief of detectives at the time declined Fischer’s travel to Erie. The trail has remained cold, though Leigh Kish, the museum’s current marketing director, said a replacement diamond has since been purchased.

“…but no other updates on the case. I’d guess I’d assume that nothing was ever solved,” Kish wrote in an email.

Fischer, 64, retired from the city in 2001 and now works as private security at federal offices around Pittsburgh. The 1981 diamond theft is a case he still thinks about.

“The statute of limitations has long since expired,” Fischer said. “It would be nice just to get it back and parade it over to the museum and say, ‘Here it is!’”

Ethan Magoc

October 1977: An empty wooden roller coaster, shortly after the park closed. (Credit: Marlene Karas/The Pittsburgh Press) By November 1977, when this photo was taken, there were neither fun nor prizes at West View Park. (Credit: The Pittsburgh Press) July 5, 1979: Two years after the park was abandoned, concession stands and amusement building were leveled. Coasters still stood, but not for long. (Credit: Marlene Karas/The Pittsburgh Press) Sept. 3, 1980: After three summers without passengers, this is what remained of the Kiddie Dips, a smaller version of the signature coaster in the park. (Credit: Kent Badger/The Pittsburgh Press) Sept. 3, 1980: After a fire, final demolition began on the remains of West View. (Kent Badger/The Pittsburgh Press) Sept. 3, 1980: A Sunday night fire leveled much of what remained of Big Dips roller coaster. (Credit: Kent Badger/The Pittsburgh Press) Dec. 29, 1980: What was an amusement park became a shopping center. Here, bulldozers continued that transformation in the middle of winter. (Credit: Mark Murphy/Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

1977: The end of West View Park

When school picnics were a tradition, there were two places where the station wagon would take kids of the district: Kennywood or West View Park. 

But Pittsburghers’ fondness for West View Park dwindled in 1977 and the Route 19 park closed forever after 71 years of operation. 

"The directors blamed rising costs and reduced attendance as the reasons <…> The park was opened for only 80 days in 1977 because of the lack of school picnics," the Post-Gazette reported.

Jack Hickey, who used to sell tickets and arrange picnics at the park blamed the closing of the park on the cultural change: “It’s not the park, it’s the people that have changed. This is a picnic park, where families can pack a lunch and stay all day. But people just don’t do that anymore,” he said.

West View Park was more than just a picnic park, though. It had  famous rides like “The Whip” and “Tumblebug,” “Scrambler” and “Tempest.” In fact, in 1910, four years after park’s grand opening, Pittsburgh native T.M. Harton, the founder and original owner of the park, unveiled the Dips, the first coaster in Pennsylvania to have dips and drops over 50 feet. 

The park was a happy place: laughter, plenty of entertainment, lots of screaming and even dancing.  West View Park was home to West View Danceland, a dance hall, with music, flashing lights and the big crystal ball that illuminated the dancing floor. People danced there to big bands music, rock groups, jazz musicians and records. But then in 1973 it was turned into ashes overnight. The famous dance hall that hosted Guy Lombardo, Harry James, Glenn Miller and Tommy Dorsey was leveled by an eight alarm fire and was never rebuilt. 

Some would say that Danceland’s fire was a turning point, things went downhill from there and financial woes of West View Park worsened. 

In November 1977, everything inside the amusement park went up for sale: the choo-choo train, distortion mirrors, the 40 “Fascination” games, lots of coasters and even the handcrafted merry-go-round built in 1906. 

Since 1981, the grounds of West View Park have been occupied by the West View Park Shopping Center, offering a different kind of American entertainment.

On the day when West View Park closed its doors never to reopen them again, the Post-Gazette wrote: “In the deafening quiet that has shrouded the place, there seems to be nothing sadder than a merry-go-round fenced off with aluminum chain link, a boarded up cotton candy stand or an entire abandoned amusement park.”

Check out this video showing what it was like to have fun at West View Park (h/t John Schalcosky).

— Mila Sanina

Rooftop cheering on Walnut Street in Shadyside. (Bill Wade/The Pittsburgh Press) Women leaders were in a pack as they passed the 21-mile mark in Shadyside. (Bill Wade/Post-Gazette) The J&L steel mill served as a backdrop on East Carson Street. (Pittsburgh Press photo) Ralph Montgomery of West View was arrested for entering the race on roller skates. (Photo by Greg Ellis) Ken Martin, who was the first male to cross the finish line. (Pittsburgh Press photo) Ken Martin gives his wife, Lisa, a kiss on the head after the race. They were the first husband and wife to win their respective categories at a marathon. (Pittsburgh Press photo)

1985: First Pittsburgh Marathon

About 1,500 men and 221 women competed in the first Pittsburgh marathon, held on May 5, 1985. Nearly 300,000 spectators cheered as competitors ran over the city’s hills, bridges and abandoned street car tracks into Point State Park.

It was a profitable day for Lisa and Ken Martin, the first husband and wife to be marathon winners. The couple, who had trained in the hot sun of Mesa, Ariz., left Pittsburgh $55,000 richer. 

Lisa Martin, a 24-year-old native of Australia, had become one of the world’s best marathon runners while training for the Olympics as a student at the University of Oregon.

Her husband, Ken Martin, was a collegiate track coach. The couple praised the city, the race organizers and the people of Pittsburgh for cheering on the runners.

The city was in a celebratory mood. Bands played, people hosted parties and there was a break dancing competition in Homewood. On race day, weather conditions were 63 degrees with partly cloudy skies. By the time the last runner finished, the temperature had risen to 74 degrees.

Ken Turpin, 44, of Penn Hills, was the first person to cross the finish line in a wheelchair. Spectators greeted him with thunderous applause. 

One local competitor placed fourth. Only three of the elite runners finished ahead of Don Freedline, then a 29-year-old graduate student in exercise physiology at the University of Pittsburgh. 

A native of Apollo, Pa., Freedline was living in Squirrel Hill when he trained for the 26-mile, 385-yard course.  He placed fourth with a personal record of 2:17:17 and won $7,000. He received an additional $2,000 for being the second United States male finisher. The Pittsburgh Marathon served as The Athletics Congress men’s national marathon championship, adding $6,000 to the race’s purse.

A man on roller skates did not finish the race. Ralph Montgomery, 38, of West View, started the race between wheelchair competitors and runners. He was arrested after weaving back and forth in front of runners.

— Marylynne Pitz

August Wilson Center under construction, 2008 (Bill Wade/Post-Gazette) Otis Fugate, of Imperial, Pa., works on one of the forms for the lower level of the August Wilson Center for African Culture. (Darrell Sapp/Post-Gazette) Local leaders got together to break ground for the August Wilson Center for African American Culture in Pittsburgh on Wednesday, Oct. 18, 2006. (Steve Mellon/Post-Gazette) Freda Ellis,  oldest sister of August Wilson, and her daughter, performer Kim Ellis, attend a ground breaking ceremony for the August Wilson Center in 2006. (Steve Mellon/Post-Gazette) Franco Harris at a ground breaking ceremony for the August Wilson Center for African American Culture, 2006. (Steve Mellon/Post-Gazette)

2006: The August Wilson Center being built 

The August Wilson Center for African American Culture isn’t quite a decade old, but its fate is already on the line. In Pittsburgh, the story has been one of the top stories this year and the debates are ongoing about its future and what will become of the building, which not so far ago was an inspiration and hope for the fans of Pittsburgh-born Pulitzer-prize winning playwright August Wilson and the community at large. 

What will happen to the 65,000 square-foot building at 980 Liberty Avenue? Will it be a hotel? A museum? A concert hall? An apartment building? Will it preserve its name?

The August Wilson Center had so much promise that hasn’t quite pan out, exciting plans that were never implemented and bills that never got paid. It was supposed to be a model for other cultural institutions, instead the unsolvable problems that mired its financial situation could be at the center of a play by the playwright whose name it bears.

An idea to create an African American museum was born in 1996. The groundbreaking ceremony for the Center took place almost exactly a year after August Wilson died — October, 2006.

San Francisco-based architect Allison G. Williams, a prominent African-American architect at Perkins+Will, won a competition to design the Center. When the building was completed, city newspapers reported, “There is a new jewel in Pittsburgh’s crown: the August Wilson Center for African American Culture. It is a two-story structure punctuated by the glass that made so many Pittsburgh fortunes.”

It is uniquely shaped like a ship made in glass and stone inspired by Swahili trading ships that carried East African culture to shores across the Atlantic.  

“It’s inspiring to see such enthusiasm from the Pittsburgh community. This is an incredible opportunity for all of us to do something to ensure that our collective history will be preserved, presented and interpreted for generations to come,” August Wilson Center Board member Farmer White said in 2006. 

In 2014, the story of the Wilson Center is drastically different, it is all about disappointment, unfulfilled expectations and a whole lot of uncertainty.

— Mila Sanina

Arrested for using a false name while attempting to register at Letsche School in the Third Ward, William Ott tried to hide his identity with a handkerchief. (Pittsburgh Press photo) The Pittsburgh Press published a series of pictures showing where ghost voters had been found. (Pittsburgh Press photo) The Pittsburgh Press published a series of pictures showing where ghost voters had been found. (Pittsburgh Press photo) The Pittsburgh Press published a series of pictures showing where ghost voters had been found. (Pittsburgh Press photo)

Sept. 9, 1931: Pittsburgh’s great voting scandal

Poor Clayton Swisher. He had the misfortune of being broke and hungry in 1931, one of the worst of the Depression years. Swisher was hanging around outside the Pittsburgh Association for the Improvement of the Poor when he thought his luck had changed. He met a “big-hearted” man who gave him 10 cents for a meal.

There was a catch. The man was a ward politician and wanted Swisher to vote in the primary election scheduled Sept. 15, less than a week away. He handed Swisher a small piece of paper. Register using this name, Swisher was told.

So Swisher dutifully went to a polling place and stood in line. Then things went bad. Swisher was arrested by state police and sent to jail. He had company — man named William Lapinska was arrested at the same location. He gave authorities four different names before coughing up the real one.

The next day, Swisher’s picture ended up on the front page of the newspaper. “A 10-Cent Vote,” the headline snickered.

His was a small part of a much bigger story the investigators and newspapers had been unpeeling for months. Padding of voter lists in the early 1930s was so widespread as to be laughable. The Pittsburgh Press indicated 50,000 illegal tax receipts had been issued in preparation for the 1931 primary election.

Sometimes political gangs stole votes by paying taxes in the names of unsuspecting citizens and then securing a receipt to register. The citizen would discover the fraud, only to be told duplicate receipts were not allowed. No vote for you, they were told.

“Ghost” voters were commonly registered at false addresses — vacant houses, parking lots, boiler yards, hotels. Eleven thousand more people were assessed for taxes than the total population of Pittsburgh.

The primary that year was a mess of riots, kidnappings, voting machine failures and arrests. It made great headlines, if not great democracy. “Stop This Wholesale Election Steal!” pleaded The Pittsburgh Press.

Pittsburgh at the time was awash in corruption. Mayor Charles H. Kline would prove to be one of the city’s most dapper and dirty politicians. Indicted, tried and convicted of malfeasance, he’d escape jail only by dying of ill health before he could be sent to the pokey.

And poor Clayton Swisher? He was charged with conspiracy to violate the registration laws and held on $1,000 bail. The newspaper story failed to indicate whether he got his 10-cent meal.

— Steve Mellon 

The loading docks at Smallman Street in the early evening of Oct. 9, 1978. (The Pittsburgh Press/Michael Chikiris) A March 1924 caption reads: At the produce yards, streets are littered with refuse, a mute reminder of the daily business. (Pittsburgh Sun-Telegraph photo) A May 11, 1948 view of the terminal. (Pittsburgh Sun-Telegraph) Fully loaded cars, ready to be unloaded on Nov. 20, 1949. (The Pittsburgh Press) An owner of Paskoff Bros. & Co., founded in 1912, stands among thousands of potatoes in the terminal on Oct. 4, 1966. (The Pittsburgh Press) Dick Battaglia and Alan L. Siger, leaders of Pittsburgh's produce industry. In 1982, the city announced plans to renovate the terminal. (James Klingensmith/Post-Gazette) A Nov. 23, 1982 view of the terminal. (Darrell Sapp/Post-Gazette) The produce terminal on a Saturday morning earlier this month. (Ethan Magoc/Post-Gazette)

"The long view of the Produce Terminal"

Pittsburghers know that a visit to the Strip District on a Saturday morning means fresh food, jaywalking, witty t-shirts and street musicians.

Often, it also means paying for parking on the southern side of the Produce Terminal, whose future has been in doubt for quite a while.

The latest reporting by PG’s Mark Belko puts three developers in the mix to define the future of the Produce Terminal in the Strip: Ferchill Group, McCaffery Interests and Rubino Partners. Buncher Co. wants to buy it from the city, tear down a portion and spend $20 million to rehab the rest. Mayor Bill Peduto is not in favor of that plan.

A brief history of the Produce Terminal reveals that it opened in 1929 and cost about $10 million (about $130 million today) to build, according to old  clippings from The Pittsburgh Press.

For much of the 20th century, it was the entry point for fresh produce that would feed thousands of Pittsburghers. Seventy wholesalers once operated inside its brick walls.

Mark Belko wrote this past fall: “…it appears that only two produce wholesalers remain — Premier and Coosemans — and they are at the mercy of month-to-month leases. That’s down from seven just three years ago.”

Judging from these photos from the 1900s, it was a thriving place. The heaps of trash attested to that in the ’20s.

What do you think should become of the structure?

Ethan Magoc

Top photo caption: The loading docks at Smallman Street in the early evening of Oct. 9, 1978. (The Pittsburgh Press/Michael Chikiris)

1986: ”Washington’s Landing”

Almost thirty years ago, as developers and officials clashed in discussions over the future of Herrs Island on the Allegheny River, the Post-Gazette wrote, “it is crucial that development of Herrs Island be done right with close attention to the best land use. Because of its location within sight of Downtown two miles away, Herrs Island can be a jewel in Pittsburgh’s crown if things are done right.” 

Maybe not everything was done right, but since the 1980s the sight of what was previously known as Herrs Island has changed dramatically. A former brownfield site has been turned into an exemplary project of urban redevelopment and luxurious riverfront living. Not far from where a foul-smelling factory used to grind up the remains of dead animals, people now park luxury boats. Instead of soap works and saw mills, the island hosts parks, town homes and a marina. 

The name changed in 1987. Herrs Island became Washington’s Landing to honor a story that during the French and Indian War George Washington himself slept on the island after his raft capsized on the Allegheny River.

The development of old Herrs Island into shiny, new Washington’s Landing was a long process, with lots of setbacks. The discovery of hazardous wastes threatened plans for a riverside marina and a residential complex, the Urban Redevelopment Authority and Buncher Corp. negotiated over terms of the agreement and the price. Estimates for the cleanup costs were enormous and no one wanted to be responsible. The cleanup was eventually completed. 

In 1999, the final parcel of land on the island has been sold to a developer, the Rubinoff Co., that planned to have its corporate offices along with several small high technology companies. In 1999, the Post-Gazette wrote, “A few years ago it seemed as if no one wanted to be on Washington’s Landing, then known as Herrs Island, because of the smelly animal-rendering plants there. But for the past several years, the small island has become hot <…> Companies located on the island include Sports Technology Group, Silicon Graphics, Automated Healthcare and the Three Rivers Rowing Association.

"There also are 88 new housing units on the island, with prices from $249,350 to $580,000." That was almost 15 years ago. 

— Mila Sanina

Burke in 1976. (Post-Gazette photo) At age 92, Burke worked with children from East Hills Elementary School in an art class. (Peter Diana/Post-Gazette) This bronze relief, created in 1975 by the Burke and titled Together, was installed in an outdoor courtyard of the Kaufmann Center. (Bill Wade/Post-Gazette)

Jan. 17, 1976: Sculptor Selma Burke

Selma Burke, one of the 20th century’s most prolific artists and sculptors, went to the White House in 1943 to draw President Franklin Roosevelt. The semi-classical image she created showed the nation’s leader with his head held high, prominent cheekbones and a taut jaw.

The likeness was intended for a new Recorder of Deeds building in Washington, D.C.  but was later adopted for the dime. First, however, all of the Roosevelts had to approve it.

Eleanor Roosevelt dropped by Burke’s New York studio on Jan. 10, 1945. While Mrs. Roosevelt liked the drawing, she felt the artist had made her husband look too young. But Ms. Burke replied that she wanted the presidential profile to be timeless.

Born into poverty in Mooresville, North Carolina, Ms. Burke dug her fingers into riverbank clay as child. She was one of 10 children born to an Episcopal minister and a mother who did clerical work and lived to be 103. The family moved to Washington, D.C.  and Philadelphia.

Ms. Burke arrived in Harlem for that neighborhood’s famous cultural renaissance during the 1920s. She earned her living as a nurse but continued to study art during the Depression.

She married Claude McKay, a poet and one of the older Harlem Renaissance figures. The couple’s social circle included the witty Dorothy Parker, novelist Sinclair Lewis, the playwright Eugene O’Neill, poet Langston Hughes, singer Ethel Waters and artist Max Eastman.

The couple had a stormy marriage and later divorced.

In the 1930s, Ms. Burke traveled to Europe, where, along with photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson, she studied drawing with Henri Matisse in Paris.

After World War II broke out, Ms. Burke joined the U.S. Navy, driving a truck at the Brooklyn Navy Yard.  While on the job, she injured three discs in her back and was hospitalized. Doctors told her she would not walk again.

Regardless, she entered the nationwide competition to draw President Roosevelt and won.

Her other work included likenesses of Booker T. Washington, abolitionist John Brown and President Calvin Coolidge. Her sculpture also can be seen at Hill House in the city’s Hill District.  

Ms. Burke taught art in Pittsburgh for 17 years and operated her Selma Burke Art Center in East Liberty from 1972 to 1981.

In 1979, Ms. Burke was 78 when she was honored for her contributions to visual arts at the White House by President Jimmy Carter. He praised her as a “shining beacon” for aspiring artists.

Ms. Burke retired to New Hope, Pa., where she died at age 94 in 1995.

— Marylynne Pitz

Munhall's Eighth Avenue on Dec. 5, 1929. (Photo credit: The Pittsburgh Press) A house near the source of the explosion in Munhall. (The Pittsburgh Press) Volunteers turned out in droves to assist with rescue and recovery. (Ray Gallivan/The Pittsburgh Press) The wreckage of Eighth Avenue. (The Pittsburgh Press) Munhall following the 1929 post office explosion. (Pittsburgh Press photo) An image of the rescue effort, aided by dozens of men in hats, and transport to the hospital. (Ray Gallivan/The Pittsburgh Press) The Star Drug Store, whose gas line was the source of the Friday explosion. (The Pittsburgh Press)

1929: "Double gas explosions in Munhall"

When the first gas line exploded, Anna Fincisky thought it was just another noisy blast from the nearby steel mill in Homestead.

Fincisky was a store clerk working next to the post office in Munhall on Thursday, Dec. 5, 1929, when a faulty gas line exploded and killed six people. More than 50 others were injured; four of them were in “precarious condition,” including the assistant postmaster and the conductor of a street car that was passing by when the explosion happened.

The aftermath resembled “the sweepings of a carpenter’s shop,” with jagged pieces of wood, metal and glass filling a block on Eighth Avenue. Scores of volunteers went to the streets to help comb through the wreckage.

The explosion caused more than superficial damage. Other portions of the gas line were damaged by the blast, including one that had been patched.

Less than 24 hours later, a line under the Star Drug Store blew when a plumber — investigating the source of the first blast — lit a lamp in the shop’s basement.

Four more injuries resulted.

Equitable Gas Co. owned the problematic lines (and the gas tanks in the 1927 explosion on the city’s North Side). After the second explosion, the coroner ordered all lines in Eighth Avenue’s vicinity to be turned off. Equitable announced the entire main would be replaced.

The town was on edge after the double blast.

After the tragedy, loud pops like tire blasts were cause for frequent calls to the Munhall police department, officers had to reassure residents that things were under control by Friday afternoon.

In the Post-Gazette’s photo archive, there are about a dozen photos from that terrible week in Munhall’s history, including small headshots. These are presumably those of the injured or deceased, it’s hard to tell though: none of them are labeled.

Palmer and other officers found moonshine in this ice cream shop. (Stewart Love/The Pittsburgh Press) No caption accompanied this picture of Palmer searching a man. (Stewart Love/The Pittsburgh Press) Palmer chatted with a business owner.(Stewart Love/The Pittsburgh Press) Palmer and another officer speak with a stabbing victim. (Stewart Love/The Pittsburgh Press)

Feb. 17, 1952:Baby Face” Palmer and the Hill District

Arthur “Baby Face” Palmer had a tough gig. In the course of doing his job, he was shot, stabbed, stoned and beaten. Once he was “kicked black and blue up to the hips by three dope addicts.”

Palmer was a Pittsburgh police officer who patrolled a portion of the Hill District described in a 1952 Pittsburgh Press article as “the city’s toughest, bloodiest beat.”

The article focuses on crime and law enforcement — it is very much an outsider’s view of a complex and often misunderstood minority community. And it is accompanied by a collection of extraordinary pictures that, perhaps unintentionally, hint at a strained relationship between some members of the city’s African-American community and those who wielded so much power over them.

We stumbled upon the file of photographs a few weeks ago. It was an accidental discovery, made possible by the fact that our archives are organized alphabetically. While searching for pictures of golfer Arnold Palmer, we saw a folder labeled “Arthur (Baby Face) Palmer,” and it is our rule at the Digs to always examine folders that include the nickname “Baby Face.”

The pictures show Palmer on the job, patrolling a 78-acre portion of the Hill District that centered on the intersection of Fullerton Street and Wylie Avenue.

Palmer’s beat included 30 “murky streets and trash-filled alleys” and approximately 6,500 residents. It was presented to readers of The Pittsburgh Press as a place of drug dealers, prostitutes and thieves who “preyed on the good people of the Hill.”

The pictures reflect the newspaper’s view — Palmer is shown making arrests and questioning people he finds suspicious. In one photograph, he stands over a stabbing victim. In another, he searches a well-dressed young man whose face reflects both resignation and anger.

History and those who lived in his portion of the Hill District before it was demolished to make way for the Civic Arena tell us another, more complex story of the neighborhood. Residents lived in crumbling tenements, but the area pulsed with activity. It was a place of churches, grocery stores, barber shops, bakeries, book stores, restaurants and schools.

Children played ball or tag in the streets and at night watched a parade of well-dressed and sometimes famous people stroll by on their way to nightclubs. Some of the world’s best jazz musicians cut their chops in Hill District spots like the Musician’s Club, The Savoy Ballroom, the Crawford Grill and The Ritz Club.

According to the Press article, though, the neighborhood exhibited a violent streak. Twelve killings were reported on Palmer’s beat in 1951. “The dead he’s discovered would fill a morgue, the shot and stabbed a hospital,” the Press noted. Each year Palmer jailed at least 1,000 men and women.  

For his efforts, he was paid $345 each month. And his nickname? It was the result of genetics — “his chubby face with its ruddy cheeks and smiling, gray eyes.”

— Steve Mellon 

Milliones with Mayor Richard S. Caliguiri in 1978. (Albert French/Post-Gazette) Milliones relaxed by playing a bass at his home. (Jim Fetters/The Pittsburgh Press) Milliones was a Pittsburgh School Board member when he led a demonstration against South Africa and its Apartheid policies in 1984. (Bill Wade/The Pittsburgh Press) Barbara Burns, left, took over for Milliones as school board president in 1988. (Robin Rombach/The Pittsburgh Press) Milliones toured the Ammon Recreation Center in the Hill District in 1990.(John Beale/Post-Gazette)

March 3, 1991: Jake Milliones in the Hill District

During the 1960s, Jake Milliones was a soldier in the local civil rights movement before he became the city’s most respected black leader. He believed in helping those who were willing to help themselves.

He grew up in the predominantly white city neighborhood of Beechview and graduated from Westinghouse High School. Between 1966 and 1973, he earned  bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate degrees in psychology at the University of Pittsburgh. He was a clinical psychologist at Western Psychiatric Institute & Clinic.

A foe of South Africa’s apartheid, he was arrested while leading local picketers who urged people to stop buying kruggerands, a South Africa coin minted to promote that country’s gold.

His wife, Margaret, an activist and member of the Pittsburgh Board of Education, suffered a stroke and died in 1978. As her campaign manager, Mr. Milliones knew how hard she had fought to win that seat. He also was a grieving widower with four young children. Reluctantly, he entered public life and embraced it.

Appointed to fill his late wife’s seat on the school  board, he carried on her efforts to desegregate Pittsburgh public schools. He was elected president of the school board for five consecutive years and became a skilled conciliator. He advocated for regular evaluations of teachers and administrators, recruitment of blacks to fill those roles and elimination of the racial achievement gap.

He quit the school board in December 1988 to run for City Council. As the first black City Councilman elected from a district, he represented the Hill District plus parts of Downtown and  the North Side. He pushed for the development of Crawford Square, a $20 million housing complex in the Hill District for low and moderate-income residents.

He emerged as the city’s pre-eminent black political leader without the traditional promises of patronage or contracts in return for support. Earnest and multi-faceted, he loved the music of John Coltrane and bebop.  Later in life, his afro was streaked with white and he wore glasses, a look that gave him a professorial air. But when he glowered, people paid attention.

Mr. Milliones once led a reporter on a tour of Ammon Recreation Center on Bedford Avenue in the Hill District. There was open garbage, peeling lead paint, dank and dirty locker rooms plus cracked basketball and tennis courts. The attendant publicity spurred a blitz clean-up of city parks and pools.

Mr. Milliones suffered a heart attack on Jan. 2, 1993 and he died at age 52.

In an editorial, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette praised him as “a public servant who promoted the city’s general well being. If anyone, in the short history of City Council’s by-district system, had mastered how to balance representation for his constituents with leadership for the entire city, it was Jake Milliones.”

— Marylynne Pitz

Top photo: Councilman Jake Milliones walks along Tannehill Street in the Hill District. (Bob Donaldson/Post-Gazette)

1964: Advertising Week in Pittsburgh, celebrated with Mayor Joseph Barr, Paul Sheldon, Barbara Bucar of Crucible Steel Co., and Carl Cummings of the Advertising Club of Pittsburgh. 1961: Alan L. Hornell of Pittsburgh-based Advertising & Public Relations Consultants, Inc. (Contributed photo) 1965: Jacques Kahn, a well-known partner in a Pittsburgh ad agency, once brought a 150-pound puma and Go-Go Girl Dottie Lucas to help persuade businessmen to sign on with his firm. (Pittsburgh Press) 1977: Ann C. McFadden, vice president of Ketchum, MacLeod and Grove.  (Contributed photo) 1977: Rita A. Frankel, vice president of Ketchum, MacLeod and Grove Inc. (Contributed photo) 1962: Victor Boero, vice president and director of art for Fuller Smith and Ross. 1989: The three owners of the St. George Group ad agency, which was formed by a 1980s merger: Stan Skirboll, Herb Burger and George Garber. (Andy Starnes/Pittsburgh Press)

"Mad Men of Pittsburgh"

Pittsburgh was never New York City, and none of these former ad industry players could be confused for Don Draper, Roger Sterling or any other “Mad Men” characters.

Still, it’s virtually impossible to look through the folder labeled “ADVERTISING MEN” in the PG’s photo archive and not imagine Pittsburgh’s own smoky ad agencies of the era. The two-part final season of “Mad Men” premieres Sunday night, so we decided to give you a flavor of “Mad Men” characters,  Pittsburgh edition.

The folder contains at least three decades’ worth of players in the city’s advertising business: hundreds of white male faces employed by dozens of agencies.

And, yes, plenty of skinny black ties and crisp white shirts.

Notably absent, of course, are women and any racial diversity. In the inch-thick folder, there are but two small headshots of women. Ann McFadden, vice president at Ketchum, MacLeod and Grove Inc., was one. Both she and another Ketchum executive, Rita Frankel, didn’t become vice presidents until the late 1970s.

McFadden was featured prominently in an excellent Pittsburgh Magazine feature about the show.

“For its size, Pittsburgh was a major advertising town,” she told the magazine.

“Back then, Pittsburgh was still the Steel City and the nation’s third-largest corporate headquarters, which made it a nexus for advertising agencies (a City Directory of the time lists more than 70),” Mike May wrote.

Firms like Ketchum and Burson-Marsteller were then — and remain today — major firms, though the city’s hard times of the 1980s brought mergers that swallowed others.

As for the puma, we at “The Digs” scratched our heads, let’s put it this way: we are just glad no one in that advertising office was swallowed.

—Ethan Magoc

The dark patches are water, January 2, 1988 (Post-Gazette photo) The collapsed Ashland tank in a pool of diesel fuel (Mark Murphy/Post-Gazette) Ashland oil tank site with the remains of the tank that disintegrated (Post-Gazette photo) Workers at Braddock Lock pump oil from the river (Tony Tye/Post-Gazette)

1988: ”Monongahela oil spill”

It was the second largest oil spill in the history of Western Pennsylvania and one of the worst inland oil spills in the nation. According to Coast Guard statistics, as reported by the New York Times, only a 14 million gallon spill into the Delaware River in 1975 and a 2 million gallon spill after an explosion in Brooklyn the next year involved larger quantities. 

At the time U.S. Sen. Arlen Specter called the Monongahela oil spill “a super, major spill.”

On January 2, 1988, a 3.8-million gallon diesel oil tank collapsed and failed, dumping an estimated 1 million gallons of diesel fuel into the Monongahela River in Floreffe, Pa., 18 miles south of Pittsburgh; 2.5 million gallons were trapped by retention dikes around the riverside storage area, forming a pool of oil. River traffic on the busy Mon stopped.

The tank burst at 5:10 p.m. at the Ashland Oil Inc. storage area as it was being filled, threatening wild life and drinking water supplies for about 1 million people in more than 80 communities across three states. After the rupture, “the tank looked like someone stepped on a marshmallow.”

The 6-inch-thick slick, spreading bank to bank had grown to 33 miles long as it flowed past Pittsburgh’s Point State Park and 10 miles up the Ohio River.

The spread of the fuel was unstoppable; foot by foot it moved forward, conquering the water surface of the Mon and carrying it all the way to the Ohio River, reporters described the asphyxiating smell of diesel fumes in the air. 

As the Associated Press reported at the time, “approximately 23,000 suburban Pittsburgh residents lived for a week without tap water while the river carried the pollution past their water intakes.”

Federal agencies in collaboration with local authorities used 20,000 feet of boom and barges to contain the spill and deflect the fuel. Cold January temperatures impeded the cleanup process by not only creating the mechanical issues with the equipment but also causing hypothermia and increasing the probability of contamination because oil emulsified faster in the cold.

Following a federal investigation which concluded that Ashland violated the industry standards when they had reconstructed the tank in Floreffe the Federal Government made Ashland pay $2.25 million in fines and cover cleanup fees, which together with compensations to the distressed communities, amounted to $18 million. 

— Mila Sanina

Top photo: Two workers of the pumping crew place a hose in the pool of diesel fuel at the Ashland site (Darrell Sapp/Post-Gazette)

Arnold in 1947. (Pittsburgh Press photo) Deacon and Arnold Palmer in Pinehurst, N.C., in 1963. (Photo credit: Unknown) Arnold in the driveway of his home in 1958. (Pittsburgh Press photo)

Sept. 28, 1960: Arnold Palmer at Oakmont

Arnold Palmer was born in September 1929. A month later, Wall Street imploded and times got tough. For Arnold’s father, Milfred “Deacon” Palmer, that meant taking on two jobs at the Latrobe Country Club — greenskeeper and golf pro.

Young Arnold rode on the tractor his dad drove on the country club’s golf course. Deacon couldn’t afford fancy toys, so when Arnold played, it was on the links, whacking a ball with a club cut down to his size. He was pretty good at it.

By age 8, Arnold was hanging out at the water hole, waiting for struggling golfers warily eyeing the ditch 120 yards up the fairway. For a nickel, Arnold would hit the ball over for them.

As a freshman at Latrobe High School, Arnold wanted to play football but he was too small — no uniform would fit him. He went home to tell his dad. By then World War II was raging. Deacon had taken a third job, working nights in the melt shop of the Latrobe Steel Co. Deacon came home at night exhausted and bearing scars that would stay with him until his death. Arnold would later recall his dad coming up the steps at home after a shift. “He couldn’t walk,” Arnold said. “He crawled.”

Deacon didn’t want to hear his son complain about football uniforms or limitations. “Quit bellyaching,” Deacon said. “Play it as it lies.”

So Arnold focused on golf. And he was remarkable. He won the Western Pennsylvania junior title three times.

At the country club, though, he was still the son of a club employee. That meant Arnold couldn’t swim in the club pool or enter the locker room without his father.

Sometimes Arnold played golf with guys who worked with his dad in the melt shop. These were men with names like Scootch Goodman and Pickles Vilk. Years later, he’d have other golf buddies with names like Dwight Eisenhower and Bob Hope.

Arnold turned pro and transformed golf in the way that Babe Ruth transformed baseball. He played the game with what seemed like great ease and gusto and was superb. He was cool and comfortable and relaxed and confident. He had fun.

Crowds loved him and followed him around the course. To them, he was not just a man struggling to put a tiny ball into a small hole. He was somebody they recognized.

Bob Drum, a Pittsburgh Press writer who followed Arnold through his peak years, put it like this:

“Arnold looked like he just came from the mill. Now, the masses had somebody to root for.”

Golf would never be the same.

Top photo: Arnold at the Caddie Invitational Tournament in Oakmont in 1963. (Harry Coughanour/Post-Gazette)

— Steve Mellon