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John Gates Photograph Collection, ca. 1890-1910, AIS.1991.22
Archives Service Center, University of Pittsburgh

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What’s online

The John Gates online collection contains 58 images from 1900 through 1914 that were collected by John K. Gates, a Uniontown, Pennsylvania photographer. The images show views of downtown Pittsburgh, Highland Park, landscape and industrial scenes, and portraits. Many photographs are attributed to an unknown photographer known only as "W.B."

Images were selected that show various landmarks in the Pittsburgh area; others for their depiction of late nineteenth and early twentieth century life and industry in Pittsburgh.

What’s in the entire collection

The collection, held by the Archives Service Center (ASC) at the University of Pittsburgh, is broad in scope, comprising 239 images from the late nineteenth century through the early twentieth century representing transportation, industrial and mining history, as well as images of everyday life. Photographic documentation of notable landmarks includes the Civil War Soldiers Monument and Phipps Conservatory in Pittsburgh, the Washington Monument in Washington, D.C., and the Betsy Ross House in Philadelphia.

Other images focus on modes of transportation including horse drawn vehicles, such as delivery trucks, hay wagons, a possible fire truck, and various draft horse carts used for pulling construction and mining materials. Still others show automobiles and railroad stations in McKeesport and Nilan, Pennsylvania; East Orwell, Ohio; Forbes Field in Oakland; the construction of the Ohio River Bridge in Beaver, Pennsylvania; and other landscape and industrial scenes.

Private life is well documented with numerous images of family homes, family portraits, and individual portraits. Many photographs include house pets, farm animals, children with favorite toys, and the common practice of displaying pictures of the deceased in the background. Group portraits include military organizations, Salvation Army members, a socialist delegation, and a co-ed typing class. Celebrations such as a country fair, a church decorated for a harvest festival, and decorations for patriotic celebrations are also represented.

Impressive construction projects are also captured in this collection. The construction of what is believed to be a wastewater treatment basin is extensively photographed in stages. Structures associated with the coal industry, including the H.C. Frick Coke Co., are also shown under construction.

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