1845: The Great Fire of Pittsburgh

The dawn of April 10, 1845, brought a warm, windy day. During a brief interlude in the winds just before noon, Ann Brooks, who worked on Ferry Street for Colonel William Diehl, left unattended a newly stoked fire lit to heat wash water. A spark from this fire ignited a nearby ice shed or barn.
  • The fire companies responded, but got nothing but "a weak, sickly stream of muddy water" from their hoses, and the flames quickly spread to several buildings owned by Colonel Diehl, including his home, and to the Globe Cotton Factory.
  • The bells of the Third Presbyterian Church had given the original alarm, but the church itself was only preserved by dropping its burning wooden cornice into the street.
  • Once saved, its stone walls served as a barrier to the further spread of the fire toward the north and west.
  • Then the wind veered to the southeast and gave the fire added vigor; a witness stated that "the roar of the flames was terrific, and their horrible glare, as they leaped through the dense black clouds of smoke, sweeping earth and sky, was appalling.
  • Great Fire of Pittsburgh
  • April 10, 1845, Fire destroys a third of Pittsburgh
  • The Great Fire of 1845
Detail from View of the Great Fire of Pittsburgh, 1846, a painting by witness William Coventry Wall.
  • I'm not sure why it says 1846. May be Mr. Wall painted it in 1846.
Great_Fire_of_Pittsburgh-1.jpg


April 12, 1845
There were some speedy investigators back in the say. While one day slower, and not as extensive as the 1889 Seattle article, the below piece is still remarkable. It's kinda funny that they killed Mrs. Brooks, the fire starter. She was the only person to die (in this 4/12/1845 version).

article.jpg

The City of Pittsburgh
Pittsburgh was named in 1758, by General John Forbes, in honor of British statesman William Pitt, 1st Earl of Chatham. Pittsburgh was incorporated as a borough on April 22, 1794, with the following Act:
  • Be it enacted by the Pennsylvania State Senate and Pennsylvania House of Representatives of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania ... by the authority of the same, that the said town of Pittsburgh shall be ... erected into a borough, which shall be called the borough of Pittsburgh for ever.
  • Source
1758_point.jpg

Source

Historical population of Pittsburgh:
  • 1800 - 1,565
  • 1810 - 4,768
  • 1820 - 7,248
  • 1830 - 12,568
  • 1840 - 21,115
  • 1850 - 46,601
  • 1860 - 49,221
  • 1870 - 86,076
Today's Pittsburg looks something like this when looked from above.

pittsburgh-city-1.jpg

Map

Fort Duquesne
Fort Duquesne (originally called Fort Du Quesne) was a fort established by the French in 1754, at the confluence of the Allegheny and Monongahela rivers. It was later taken over by the English, and later Americans, and developed as Pittsburgh in the U.S. state of Pennsylvania. Fort Duquesne was destroyed by the French, prior to English conquest during the Seven Years' War, known as the French and Indian War on the North American front.
Fortduquesne.jpg

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The latter replaced it, building Fort Pitt between 1759 and 1761. The site of both forts is now occupied by Point State Park, where the outlines of the two forts have been laid in brick.

Fort Pitt
Fort Pitt was a fort built by British forces between 1759 and 1761 during the French and Indian War at the confluence of the Monongahela and Allegheny rivers, where the Ohio River is formed in modern day Pittsburgh. It was near (but not directly on) the site of Fort Duquesne.
  • In 1772, after Pontiac's War, the British commander at Fort Pitt sold the building to two colonists, William Thompson and Alexander Ross.
  • At that time, the Pittsburgh area was claimed by the colonies of both Virginia and Pennsylvania, which struggled for power over the region.
  • After Virginians took control of Fort Pitt, they called it Fort Dunmore, in honour of Virginia's Governor Lord Dunmore.
  • Fort Pitt (Pennsylvania)
Plan_of_Fort_Pitt,_1759.jpg

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British colonial protection of this area ultimately led to the development of Pittsburgh and Allegheny County, Pennsylvania by British-American colonists and immigrants.

1787
As you can see, there were some mastermind planners at work those days. I have hard time picturing early settlers doing something like this.
  • Plan of the lots laid out at Pittsburg and the Coal Hill as surveyed by John Hills, 1787
1787_plot_map.jpg

Source

1790
Looking at the below image, I can hardly imagine a population of over 100 people. Establishing, and then proving the historical narrative had to be a rather difficult process. Its execution ended up producing tons of inconsistencies. By the way, where is the fort?
  • "Pittsburg in 1790.” - Pittsburgh Prints from the Collection of Wesley Pickard.
1790_pittsburgh.jpg

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1795
If you remember from above, Pittsburgh was incorporated as a borough on April 22, 1794. Per the narrative, in 1800, the population of Pittsburgh was 1,565 people.
  • Fort Pitt and Pittsburgh, 1795.
pittsburgh-city-2.jpg

Source

1804
View of Pittsburgh. Oil on canvas by George Beck, 1804. If you can make out anything on the below painting, good for you. All I can see is that humongous hill in the background. Where did this hill come from?

1804_beck_master.jpg

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1817
Inscribed "After a sketch by Mrs. E.C. Gibson, wife of Jas. Gibson, Esq. of the Philadelphia bar, while on a wedding tour in 1817." This thing was not drawn to scale. I'd love to see the original sketch.

1817-p-layout.jpg

Source

1826
Plan of the town of Pittsburg, from Georges-Henri-Victor Collot’s "A journey in North America",1826. For whatever reason, but I do not see any significant differences between 1795 and 1826. Per their standard of building cities, that's like 30 years of doing nothing. What's up with that?

1826_pittsburgh.jpg

Source

1828
1828 Map of Pittsburgh showing the Allegheny and Monongahela Bridges. The other bridge shown across the Allegheny River was part of the Pennsylvania Canal.

Point1828.jpg

Source

1830
Relief shown by hachures; Includes informational text and inset of Lawrenceville; Identifies streets, some property owners and placement of some buildings; Engraved by N. B. Molineux.
  • Pittsburgh population in 1830 was allegedly 12,568 people. They really needed all that, and most importantly could do "all that".
1830-p-map.jpg

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1840
1840-p-layout.jpg

Source

1843
This view was taken from the hill behind Sligo. In the foreground is seen a glass-house and dwellings of manufacturers. On the right is the Monongahela Bridge, the Steamboat landing, and the Monongahela House, near the end of the bridge. To the left of that is the cupola of the University, and farther to the left, on high ground, the new Court House, and Cathedral, with the spire of the Presbyterian Church between them. On the left is the Allegheny river, with several bridges leading to Allegheny town: the second bridge sustains the aqueduct of the canal. Beyond these bridges are seen Bayard's town and Lawrenceville.

pittsburgh-1843.jpg

Source

c. 1843
If this is really 1843, the depicted volume of river traffic is incredible. They had between 21k and may be 30k people at the time. Allegedly...

1843-p-layout.jpg

Source

1845
The below map came from a book I have no trust in. I think the contents are made up and this book is nothing but a narrative to indoctrinate whatever they were indoctrinating at the moment.
1845-map.jpg


1855
Well, here we go. Cities of Pittsburgh and Allegheny, with parts of adjacent boroughs, Pennsylvania by J. H. Colton & Co., 1855.

1855_pittsburgh.jpg

Source
Most of the above maps and plans came from here. I will stop at 1855, because our Great Fire of Pittsburgh happened in 1845. The reader is strongly encouraged to browse through some of the images presented on the linked website. Most of them are pretty interesting. Here is an example.
  • Concept Plan for the Point, October 22, 1913
  • As you can see, year 1913 was still "ancient Roman".
1913_concept.jpg


Earliest Photographs of Pittsburgh
I am not sure what's going on with photographs of Pittsburgh dated with 1850s, 1860s, 1870,s and 1880s. The earliest one I found was dated with 1893. For those who think that photo equipment was in its infancy and people simply did not have access to cameras, there you go:
Unless we can collectively dig up some older photographs, the below two 1893 photograph of Pittsburgh will remain the oldest ones out there.
1893: Phipps Conservatory
pitt1.jpg


1893: The Fort Pitt Block House
pitt2.jpg

I'm pretty sure a few of you noticed that one of the photographs (link) are dated with "from around 1892". This "from around" was exactly why I did not pick it as the oldest.
  • I spent less than 10 minutes trying to locate older photographs of Pittsburgh. I do not consider it to have been a diligent search, and would really love to see photographs of Pittsburgh pertaining to 1850s, 1860s, 1870,s and 1880s.

FYI: Oldest known photographs of cities around the world

Paris 1838
Paris-1838.jpg

The Math: 1893 Pittsburgh - 1838 Paris = 55 years of no Pittsburgh photographs.

Several Photographs
As I was finishing this article, I gave it another try. I am not sure what I was able to find, therefore would appreciate your opinion on the below images.
  • Roebling's Monongahela Bridge in 1881 just prior to the start of the Smithfield Street Bridge construction.
  • What's going on in the background?
Smithfield1881 - 2.jpg
  • The Smithfield Street Bridge during construction in 1882.
  • Note the old Roebling Bridge in operation under the new span.
Smithfield1891.jpg
  • View toward downtown, 1858. (Roebling's Monongahela Bridge)
  • Source
smithfield_1858.jpg

I guess searching pays off. It also brings up additional questions. What are these three "ornamental" things up on top.

p-bridge-1883.jpg

I still would like to see pre-1890s photographs (like 1860s-1870s) of the city of Pittsburgh. The place is supposed to be brand spanking new. So far I have only seen bridges.

Back to the Pittsburgh Fire of 1845
The Great Fire of Pittsburgh occurred on April 10, 1845, destroying a third of the city. While having little effect on the culture of the city except to spur further growth, it would provide a temporal reference point for the remainder of the century and beyond.
  • The city of Pittsburgh originated in the mid-18th century.
  • It remained relatively small through the end of that century, but the 19th century brought rapid growth of a population made up of natives of English, Scottish, and German descent, as well as large numbers of immigrants.
  • By 1845, its population topped 20,000 and was swelled by crews completing the new Pennsylvania Canal.
  • Its outstripped infrastructure provided poor water pressure and an insufficient volume to its ten ill-equipped volunteer fire companies, which were more social clubs than effective public service organizations.
  • The year before, the city had completed a new reservoir, but had then closed the old one.
  • However, the water lines and pumpers were inadequate. There were just two water mains for the entire city, and the fire companies had insufficient hose to reach the center of the city from the rivers, most of the existing hose having been condemned.
Pardon me but I will repeat this part. The dawn of April 10, 1845, brought a warm, windy day. During a brief interlude in the winds just before noon, Ann Brooks, who worked on Ferry Street for Colonel William Diehl, left unattended a newly stoked fire lit to heat wash water. A spark from this fire ignited a nearby ice shed or barn.
  • The fire companies responded, but got nothing but "a weak, sickly stream of muddy water" from their hoses, and the flames quickly spread to several buildings owned by Colonel Diehl, including his home, and to the Globe Cotton Factory.
  • The bells of the Third Presbyterian Church had given the original alarm, but the church itself was only preserved by dropping its burning wooden cornice into the street.
  • Once saved, its stone walls served as a barrier to the further spread of the fire toward the north and west.
  • Then the wind veered to the southeast and gave the fire added vigor; a witness stated that "the roar of the flames was terrific, and their horrible glare, as they leaped through the dense black clouds of smoke, sweeping earth and sky, was appalling."
1845-p-fire-1.jpg


By 2:00 pm, with the fire throwing embers into the air that then started new fires where they landed, many of the citizens who had been fighting the flames instead fled to save their own possessions.
  • During its height, between 2:00 and 4:00, the fire marched block by block through the intermixed structures of Pittsburgh's poor and elite, residences and businesses, with "the loftiest buildings melting before the ocean of flame," which consumed wood, melted metal and glass, and collapsed stone and brick.
  • The Bank of Pittsburgh, thought to be fireproof, fell victim when the heat of the fire shattered the windows and melted the zinc roof, the molten metal igniting the wooden interior and burning all except the contents of the vault.
  • A similar fate met the grand Monongahela House, called the "finest Hotel in the west," when its cupola caught fire and collapsed within, resulting in a total loss.
  • The mayor’s offices and churches fell.
  • As it spread up Second Street to Market Street it destroyed the region where the city’s physicians had been concentrated.
1845-p-fire-2.jpg


Although the flames were intense, they moved slowly enough that residents had time to remove themselves and many of their belongings.
  • Some fled to the highlands to the east (the modern Hill District), then undeveloped except for the newly built courthouse, an area which remained untouched by the flames.
  • Of those who fled south to the Monongahela River, some were able to cross the Monongahela Bridge (located at the site of the present Smithfield Street Bridge), which connected the city to the southern bank of the river and was the first of what would be many bridges spanning Pittsburgh’s rivers.
  • However, this soon became congested, and then the wood-covered structure ignited, being fully consumed in about 15 minutes and leaving nothing but its supporting pylons.
  • Those counting on riverboats to take their belongings away fared less well because the boats that did not flee burned, leaving the refugees to pile their belongings on the riverbank.
  • Most of this material was burned by the advancing flames, stolen or looted, while the escaping population was typically left with nothing more than they could carry.
  • The docks and warehouses on the waterfront were likewise consumed, and as with the residences, attempts to save materials from the warehouses by bringing them to the riverbank only delayed their destruction.
  • The fire followed the river into Pipetown, an area of workers' housing and factories, again spreading destruction.
  • It only halted when the winds died down about 6:00, and by 7:00 it had fully abated within the city, having burned its way to the river and cooler hills.
  • The factories of Pipetown burned on until about 9:00.
  • Throughout the night, there were occasional flare-ups along with the repeated sounds of buildings collapsing.

Aftermath
By the morning of April 11, a third of the city was burned to the ground, leaving only scattered chimneys and walls amid the ruins, although occasional buildings were inexplicably left untouched amid the destruction.

1845-pittsburgh-aftermath-1.jpg

Source
  • It was said that "the best half of the city" had been burned, an area representing 60 acres, and the entire Second Ward of the city had just two or three dwellings untouched.
  • Local artist William Coventry Wall captured this landscape in a series of paintings which he quickly had printed as a lithograph.
    • LOL, right.
  • This was published in Philadelphia and saw a broad market, as did prints by Nathaniel Currier in Boston and James Baillie in New York (both of whom based their works on newspaper reports), in line with a growing market for "disaster prints."
old_bank_pittsburgh_1845.jpg

Source
  • The fire destroyed as many as 1200 buildings, while displacing 2000 families, or about 12,000 individuals, from their homes.
  • Household belongings were piled on the hills surrounding the city.
  • Surprisingly, only two people died.
  • One was lawyer Samuel Kingston, who was thought to have returned to his house to rescue a piano but apparently lost his bearings in the heat and smoke, since his body was found in the basement of a neighbor's destroyed house.
  • The other body was not found until weeks later, and is thought to be that of a Mrs. Maglone, whose family had advertised not having seen her since the fire.
1845-pittsburgh-aftermath-2.jpg

Source
  • Estimates of the cost range from $5 to $25 million, with one recent author placing it at $12,000,000, which he equated to $267 million in 2006 dollars.
  • Almost none of this was recoverable, as all but one of Pittsburgh's insurers were bankrupted by the disaster.
The first response of the city was one of despair, as can be seen in reports to newspapers in other cities and in initial descriptions:
  • It is impossible for any one, although a spectator of the dreaded scene of destruction which presented to the eyes of our citizens on the memorable tenth of April, to give more than a faint idea of the terrible overwhelming calamity which then befell our city, destroying in a few hours the labor of many years, and blasting suddenly the cherished hopes of hundreds - we may say thousands - of our citizens, who, but that morning were contented in the possession of comfortable homes and busy workshops.
  • The blow was so sudden and unexpected as to unnerve the most self possessed.
The Monongahela Bridge after the Great Fire. Nothing remained of the structure but the stone piers.

MonBridge2.jpg

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Recovery #1
However, this mood did not last long and the city was shortly rebuilding. The sudden dearth of structures resulted in skyrocketing property values and a coordinate construction boom that quickly replaced many of the destroyed structures, and after two months, even though "passways [were] scarcely opened through the heaps of stone, brick and iron," 400–500 new buildings had been erected in the burned area.
  • Although the new homes, warehouses and shops were built of better materials and improved architecture compared to those destroyed, the problems remained, with industrialist Andrew Carnegie commenting in 1848 on the fire-prone wooden buildings, and later on the smoke and soot-filled air.
  • The market for replacement homes and household articles further invigorated the industries, and the fire was held to have "spurred the city to greater growth," an attitude encouraged by Pittsburgh's industrialists.
  • This role of the fire was commemorated a century later with a celebration of the anniversary.
1847
I am not positive on the date of the below image. This source says that we have 1847, while the image itself has 1840 written in pencil in the right top corner.

pnw-1.jpg


1849
1849-p.jpg

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1850-57
1850-57-p-layout.jpg

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Recovery #2
Read: Pittsburgh rose from its ashes almost immediately. Property values skyrocketed, and a construction boom started on April 14, only 4 days after the fire. By June 12, while many streets were still blocked with fire debris, 500 new buildings were either completed or in progress. Fine buildings of brick or stone replaced the destroyed wooden tenements.
  • Pittsburgh came back from the great fire bigger and better.
  • Source


KD: I'd blame Ann Brooks too. If we were to believe the article from 4/12/1845, she conveniently died in this fire. I'm glad she lived long enough to let someone know that she was the one who started this major Pittsburgh conflagration. On a serious note:
  • This is, obviously, another one of them urban fires.
  • The fire destroyed as many as 1200 buildings, while displacing 2000 families, or about 12,000 individuals, from their homes.
  • Surprisingly, only two (2) people died. (check this stuff out)
    • One was lawyer Samuel Kingston, who was thought to have returned to his house to rescue a piano but apparently lost his bearings in the heat and smoke, since his body was found in the basement of a neighbor's destroyed house.
      • Say what?
    • The other body was not found until weeks later, and is thought to be that of a Mrs. Maglone, whose family had advertised not having seen her since the fire.
    • Figured Ann Brooks had to survive to take the blame.
  • Where are 1860s and 1870s photographs of the city of Pittsburgh (like downtown may be)?
Look at this courthouse (allegedly) destroyed by fire in 1882.

The ruins of the Courthouse.jpg

They say it was built in 1841, and at some point looked like this. I want to see more photographs similar to the one below. There are structures behind, yet we are being fed some sketches.

Pittsburgh - Early  B_large.jpg
  • In 1830 they had ~13k, and in 1840 ~21k people. What did they need this for in 1843?
    • How many ships do you see on the above-linked image?
Pittsburgh in Civil War
Pittsburgh was a thriving and important city during the American Civil War, and provided a significant source of personnel, war materiel, armament, ammunition, and supplies to the Union Army. Situated at the confluence of the Monongahela, Allegheny and Ohio rivers, Pittsburgh was an important transportation hub for both riverine and rail transport, as well as overland via its system of roads.


I just think the amount of any inspectable materials pertaining to the Pittsburgh Fire of 1845 is next to none. We have this 1845 book, some questionable articles and a bunch of sketches. The story line could be rated B, or even C.
  • If we do not have a reasonable (comparable to other cities) volume of 1850s-1870s photographs, what could that mean?
    • What could it mean for the chronology of events?
As you can see, I found this fire somewhat interesting. If you have an opinion to share, please use the comments section below.
 

SiriusRising

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Very interesting article. Thanks.The first thing I noticed in the images was the amazing pentagonal fort . Michelle Gibson and others have done excellent work investigating what are known as Star Forts. She speculates that they are part of a world wide energy grid system. Could the intense heat of the Great Fire have been caused by these huge energy capicitators. It might be worth looking into other cities with star forts that suffered great fires. Here is a link to Ms Gibson's YouTube on the subject.

 
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  • Sonofabor

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    Yesterday I decided I would change insurance agencies and spent a couple hours with a fellow at another agency.

    During the discussion, I raised the specter of large-scale indemnity.

    I had my computer open and went to this website and showed him the picture of Baltimore, 1906. I showed him the list of cities. I said: "Seattle, Elennsburg , and Spokane all burned down similarly in 1889, the year Washington entered the Union. Coincidence?" Without missing a beat, he said, "probably not." We talked briefly then about Paradise, CA in terms of massive indemnity. We didn't speak of this-- only that the fire didn't make sense. He told me that his company paid the claims for which he is proud. I asked him if this sort of knowledge is known in the industry. "Yes," he replied. "But you don't want to sell fear too much." Huh?

    I like this guy (he is a "people person"). He told me he got the jab so he could be with his wife when she gives birth to their third child. He felt compelled (as a devoted husband) to do so. He asked me if the virus could have come from bats, I told him it is unlikely. I wondered at such a decent man. Knowledge is compartmentalized. People are stuck in two worlds, trying to do what's right and play the odds (with fragmentary knowledge and (over) (ab)used nervous systems).
     
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    "But you don't want to sell fear too much."
    I would like to find out what he meant by saying this.


    As far as the city of Pittsburgh goes. I am not even sure its 1874 size (visually similar to 1871) matches the population of 86k-90k people. I'd expect double if not triple that number for the city depicted below. That's without the Allegheny city located on the north side of the Allegheny river.

    p-1870s.jpg
     

    Sonofabor

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    I'll just put this question flat out:

    Who but "the gods" could rebuild these towns lickety split?


    ________________
    As for insurance agent knowledge... Who knows? I fired my "Free Masonic" agent yesterday because he was tight-lipped about everything I asked him-- general questions, like, "What do you guys know about what is going down right now?" Maybe the new agent is lying even about taking the jab. I'd be, if you hadn't noticed, a lousy criminal investigator.
     

    Jinxy

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    I am starting to think that 1800's were actually 1700's or earlier in the not so UnitedSA.

    And they did a lot of mumbo jumbo in the European history with a lot of Alexanders, Louis(e)'s (m/f) and Fredericks to conceal.
    I have this book from +/- 1915 about the Napoleon wars (got it last week from a thrift shop for €4)and it is a terrible boring book but there are sentences in it that puzzled me.

    Like:
    • So it was with the storm run of the year 1813. It didn't come from us. We are not a people for a passionate display. But when Napoleon had fallen and everything in Eurора cried out for Restoration, for a return to the old, we managed to preserve the essence of the new institutions, namely, unity of law and unity of government."
    • The idea of "belonging together." in an indivisible state bond: an idea which the Germans and the Italians realized only in 1870 and which is still pursued by the inhabitants of the United States of North America as a distant ideal," -dominates our national existence for a century.
    • The other reason why I think that is that Talleyrand sold the Louisiana Purchase right in the middle of the not so UnitedSA around 1803 but how can you say that the States were "United" and independent when Louisiana was still in French hands.
    And finally if they were constantly fighting in Europe, where did all these people come from? Especially healthy men to spread their love to multiply the USA in such number.
     
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    Ran into this "Pittsburgh and Allegheny" 1898 book on the LOC website. There is nothing tremendously special in it, but some things are interesting. Photographs and ads are still worth looking at.
    • They bothered with some cool looking door mats.
    door_mats.jpg

    The City of Baltimore should have purchased some of these prior to 1904.

    fire-ext.jpg

    Buildings look like they were manually stacked next to each other. Kit houses?

    1892-pit.jpg

    I wouldn't know what a "fairly young" city was supposed to look like in 1898. B&W photographs are not making it easy to determine the age.
    • What do you think?
    1892-pit3.jpg

    1892-pit1.jpg


    Well, and what 19th century city could go without some "ancient" Roman stuff?

    1892-pit2.jpg
     

    John Nada

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    Being from Pittsburgh, I worked in a building on Forbes between Wood St. and Market St. very much like the ones in the photo provided above. What was most interesting about this building was the basement was 2 stories tall consisting of brick work that appeared much older than the rest of the building. At the end of the basement was a steel door that led to a tunnel system that connected several of the buildings in the area. I didn't get a chance to walk around the tunnels, but rather just poked my head in for a peek. At the time, I was told that they all connected back to the buildings that were set up as bomb shelters in case there was a nuclear attack from the ever present "Soviet Threat." In the 15 years since I worked at this location, the city has decided to "revitalize" the area, i.e. - destroy some of the old buildings and replace with newer, as well as change the façade of any remaining older buildings. That all being said, if anyone would like some current photos of some areas or buildings of interest in Pittsburgh, please let me know and I will do my best to get some shots next time I am down there.
     

    Jinxy

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    Buildings look like they were manually stacked next to each other. Kit houses?
    I have the same problem with the Amsterdam Grachtengordel

    There is only one book where they base the whole history on and even in there, there is only "probably built by so and so in 1600so" , and then they have a story about taxes so the houses were narrow to avoid tax, but that does *not* fit into the extremely wealthy merchants who lived there.
    These houses look very similar built.
     

    Timeshifter

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    Where are ALL the photographs?... here probably...
    Pittsburgh Revealed is the first exhibition to consider photography in this city from the medium’s beginnings to the present. Hundreds of photographs in this all-encompassing survey have never been seen before, although almost half are in the collection of the Carnegie Museum of Art. Others have come from artists, attics, flea markets, private collectors, dealers, libraries and other museums. All were taken in Pittsburgh and its environs and record some aspect of its life or appearance. Consequently, the exhibition includes portraits, landscapes, industrial scenes, public events, disasters and neighborhood views presented in every conceivable format: personal snapshots, corporate documents, journalists’ records, studio portraits, engineers’ blueprints and unique artistic interpretations. There is something here to please or intrigue every visitor. Through this exhibition we hope to promote the preservation of Pittsburgh’s photographic heritage and to inspire new generations of artists....Photography, capturing light from an image onto a chemically treated surface, began in France and England in 1839. It reached Pittsburgh by 1840, and a decade later photographic portrait studios flourished throughout the city. Many of the rare early photographic processes, such as daguerreotype, tintype and stereography, by early Pittsburgh masters are presented for the first time: Downtown in 1863, a millionaire’s son all dressed up for his stint in the Union army, a neighborhood devastated by the 1877 Railroad Strike. These are scenes we can now see again.
    Where are they now? 🤔

    Found a few here, various supposed dates..

    1839-49..
    2.jpg
    Gretton7_brightened.jpg


    1849-59
    Gretton27.jpg

    Gretton35.jpg


    A few more here. But should be thousands...
     

    Jinxy

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    I worked in a building on Forbes between Wood St. and Market St. very much like the ones in the photo provided above
    If you get the chance again; look up at the construction. Here is an example of 15-1600 european construction.
    Because of the wood that can easily set fire they changed their mind about this in +/- the 1700's.
     
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    But should be thousands...
    Indeed. I tried to find a single 1845-ish photograph (at your link) suggesting that there was some type of grand scale urban fire in Pittsburgh in 1845. With no luck obviously.

    As far as their photographs dated with 1840s, they need to make up their minds in reference to the exposure vs movement issue. I did not see a single blur we see on some much later photographs dated with 1860s-1870s. Chances are, these are not 1840s, but 1880s-1890s. Well, at least per the narrative these can't be 1840s... methinks.

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    Right Arm

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    Wonderful and thought provoking article KD, you really are getting good at demolishing the narrative.

    I have a feeling that a lot of these instances of fires where laying the ground work for the actions of the civil war, although I think the civil part was not waged upon the population but the places where the population was residing, to wipe all traces or maybe not all traces but to disable the the connected grid upon which the star fort network's real strength was built, this can also be transposed to other parts of the world during the Napoleonic wars, the Crimean wars and culminating in the destruction of Europe's grid which by far was the biggest and most densely populated.

    There are much more forts that are not visible today and need quite a bit of digging to find them, when searching for the Fort Schultz just to the west of fort Duquesne I came across this site that has quite some detail of most of the civil war era forts in the vicinity.
    As for the fire, I bet there was a big group of bankers ready with record amount of loans to offer folks that i suspect owned most of their property and thus were in no real need of borrowing until the advent of the fire.
     
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