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New Stricly Strip Tours
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Historical Points of Interest in the Strip District:

Senator John Heinz Pittsburgh Regional History Center
1212 Smallman Street

Built in 1898 as the headquarters and main warehouse of the Chautauqua Lake Ice Company, this seven-story structure was designed by Frederick Osterling. The company served the residential population of Pittsburgh and also iced railroad cars leaving the Strip District filled with produce. In 1996 the warehouse was renovated by the Historical Society of Western Pennsylvania for the Senator John Heinz Pittsburgh Regional History Center. The facility offers exhibits and interactive programs for the public to learn and enjoy the history of Western Pennsylvania.

Standard Undergound Cable
1622-54 Smallman Street

One of the few industrial buildings remaining in this end of the Strip District is the former factory of the Standard Underground Cable Company. Constructed in 1922, the plant was used to manufacture lead-covered cables for telephone, telegraph and electric power companies.

Warehouses
1700-1728 Smallman Street

The warehouse flanking Colville Street are associated with two Pittsburgh grocery store chains. The six-story brick block at 1728 Smallman Street was built between 1905-10. Eagle Grocery, one of the early chain stores in Pittsburgh, merged with Kroger to become O.K. Grocery. This building served for a time as O.K.'s warehouse. O.K. later became Giant Eagle, currently one of PIttsburgh's largest chains.

The seven-story building at 1700 Smallman Street with the reinforced concrete bands and columns was constructed in 1915 for the P.H. Butler Company, a large grocery firm. P.H. Butler later became Thorofare, another large grocery store chain in Pittsburgh. Thorofare is on longer in business.

Pennsylvania Railroad
Fruit Auction Building
Smallman between 16th and 21st Streets

By the 1920s the growing volume of produce being distributed through the Strip District caused tremendous traffic congestion in the produce yards. In 1926 the Pennsylvania Railroad constructed a new terminal on Smallman spanning five blocks from 16th to 21st streets. Dealers made purchases at the auction held daily in the east end of the building or from large wholesalers who displayed their samples on the terminal floor. Purchases were loaded on trucks directly from the railroad cars that lined the tracks between the terminal and the river.

City Banana and Tom Ayoob
Northeast Corner 21st and Smallman

These two buildings were constructed in the early 1930s for the Catalano Purpura Fruit Company and the Pittsburgh Banana Company. In 1936 a gas explosion in the ripening room at Pittsburgh Banana destroyed the eastern end of the building, blew out windows throughout the Strip District and damaged the original bell towers at St. Stanislaus Kostka Church across the street, forcing their removal.

St. Stanislaus Kostka Church and Rectory
57 21st Street

Designed by Pittsburgh architect Frederick Sauer, St. Stanislaus Kostka Church was constructed in 1891. The congregation was formed in 1873 when 200 Polish families banded together to form the St. Stanislaus Kostka Beneficial Society. The availability of unskilled mill jobs in Pittsburgh in the late 19th century attracted a flood of immigrants from southern and eastern Europe. For most of the 19th century, the neighborhood was populated by Irish and German immigrants and their native-born children. By 1915 more than 80 percent of Strip District residents were foreign-born; 30 percent of the residents were Polish.

Catanzaro Building
2014-20 Smallman Street

This handsome brick warehouse and office building was constructed in 1907 for Joseph W. Craig, an agent of the Pennsylvania Railroad. Now known as the Catanzaro Building, named for its owners during the 1920s-40s, this was a prestigious address for produce dealers who vied for space directly across Smallman Street from the produce yards. Craig constructed a number of warehouses along Smallman Street including the building immediately to the west. Originally a twin to the Catanzaro Building, it suffered structural problems and the top two floors were removed in the late 1980s.

1906-08 Penn Avenue

In the early 20th century, crowding, crime and disease gave the Strip District a reputation as a difficult and dangerous place to live. These conditions attracted the attention of a number of social reform organizations. The Civic Club of Allegheny County took a special interest in the Strip District and constructed this two-story People's Bath for residents in 1907. The bath house was a vital addition to the neighborhood and at its peak served more than 230 patrons a day.

1700 Penn Avenue

In the mid-19th century, the Strip District was a thriving neighborhood with a population of about 12,000. This building was constructed in 1850 as the Fourth United Presbyterian Church. When the congregation built a new facility in the East End in the 1890s, it was sold to St. Patrick's Church (immediately behind on Liberty Avenue) and used as auxillary space. The church was among the earliest buildings taken over by the produce industry when it was purchased by Iron City Produce for use as a store and warehouse in 1903.

St. Patrick's Church

"Old St. Patrick's" was constructed in 1936, the fourth building for a congregation established in 1811. Father Cox, St. Patrick's priest in the 1930s, was a tireless activist for the unemployed during the Depression. He had daily radio sermons, opened a soup kitchen, ran a homeless shelter and led a march on Washington to appeal for jobs. He briefly ran for President as the Jobless Party candidate in 1932.

Penn Rose Building

Constructed in 1906, this building served as a warehouse for Bernard Gloecker's butcher supply company.

642 Penn Avenue

One of the oldest surviving buildings in the produce district, this is typical of the mixed-used buildings that lined Penn Avenue in the 19th century. The building was constructed circa 1856-68 for merchants Mathias and Magdalena Schwartz, who had a store on the first floor and a residence on the second floor.

St. Elizabeth's Church
1619 Penn Avenue

In 1894 the First Catholic Slovac Union determined that there should be a Slovak church in Pittsburgh. Although the group was not concentrated in any one area, the Strip District was chosen as the location for the church. After meeting for more than a decade in a building on Penn Avenue at 15th Street, the congregation built St. Elizabeth in 1907.

Good Samaritan Church
1347 Penn Avenue

Good Samaritan Chapel was constructed in 1935 by the congregation of St. Patrick's Church. When the third St. Patrick's burned in 1935, services were held in the chapel for a year until the new building was completed.

Text from the Historical Society of Western Pennsylvania

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A street in the Strip District with wagons and automobiles. Early 1900s

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Part of a parade staged by local distributors in the Strip about 1915.

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Incline ending at 16th Street Bridge
1940s

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