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)

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