About the Exhibit
Selected from collections held by the ULS Archives Service Center, the images in this exhibit provide a glimpse into the past while hinting at changes that would eventually lead to the development of Oakland as a hub of medical, cultural, and educational significance known well beyond Pittsburgh. Featured are landmark buildings designed by leading architects of the time as well as vivid street scenes.
You may be surprised to discover what was once in Oakland (an amusement park!?) as well as how the built environment and landscape has dramatically changed.
Brief History of Oakland
Over the last two centuries Oakland has been a community marked by continuous transformation. While Pittsburgh’s Point was emerging from a frontier fort into a settlement filled with residential and commercial activity in the early 19th century, Oakland was sparsely populated with large tracts of land primarily used as farm and grazing pastures. By mid-century, Pittsburgh’s city center grew dense and became overcrowded and the threat of natural disasters such as flood and fire were constant fears, such as the fire of 1845. In contrast, areas just beyond the city limits became more desirable.
By the Civil War, Oakland had become a thriving residential community which included the establishment of several religious institutions and commercial development. Within a few short years most of the communities on the eastern border of Pittsburgh, including Oakland, were annexed into the city, forming a varied and vibrant East End. Along with the extension of the city boundaries, transportation into Oakland and Downtown were provided by newly established traction and streetcar companies making travel easy and accessible to the growing population.
The City Beautiful Movement, which emphasized harmonious social order in urban planning during the late 19th century, had a huge impact on the next phase of development of the neighborhood. The open and green spaces of the neighborhood would become permanently fixed with the creation of Schenley Park and provide residents “breathing” and recreation spaces. Oakland was transformed into the civic and cultural center of the region with the establishment of museums, libraries, concert halls and social clubs. Institutions of higher education would come to dominate Oakland throughout the 20th century with the establishment of what would become Carnegie Mellon University in 1900 and the relocation of the University of Pittsburgh in 1908. These factors contributed to the creation of some of the most iconic and recognizable buildings of the Pittsburgh landscape.
Through these images you can see a glimpse of Oakland’s past. Can you imagine what Oakland will look like in 5, 25 or even 100 years from now?
1910 Map of Oakland
This 1910 map of Oakland provides a view of the built environment. Produced for real estate purposes, the G.M. Hopkins Company created over 40 volumes of maps and atlases of the Pittsburgh area between 1872 and 1940.
Zoom in to find the location landmarks on the map to the corresponding number on the photographs