Post-Gazette artists and photographers have spent months digging for historic images of Pittsburgh landmarks -- Market Square, the Block House at the Point, Forbes Field and Luna Park. We found great panoramic views of Forbes Field and Luna Park, but not of Market Square and The Block House. We wanted to create those wide views, so with the help of the University of Pittsburgh's Pittsburgh City photographer Collection, period street maps from www.arcgis.com and historic Pittsburgh maps available online, we painstakingly stitched together photos, historic references and artist Dan Marsula's drawing to flesh out the pictures in a creative but historically accurate way.
For the reconstruction of Market Square circa 1946, we went to images of Diamond Street (which changed in 1958 to Forbes Avenue). Some of the buildings still exist, but in some cases we only had a small architectural detail to guide us in the identificaton and re-creation of the building that Marsula did.
As for the 1942 image of the Block House at Point State Park, it took a little more work to track down the buildings that surrounded the historic structure and are now long gone. One of the nearby streets -- which no longer exists -- was called Water Street. It ran along the Mon, and we found images of buildings that Marsula could re-create from the vantage point in the Block House photograph; he added in a vehicle from the time of the photo.
Next photographers took pictures from the same vantage point as each of the historic images -- or from as close as it was possible to get to the place where the photographer took the historic shot. In the case of the Block House, we used it as the anchor and then plotted in the distant Gulf Building and Rosenbaum's Department Store to figure out the exact location.
The results are mesmerizing. The landscape surrounding the fantastical Luna Park doesn't look the least bit familiar -- until you see the towers of Saint Paul Cathedral sticking up in the background of the picture. Though most Pittsburghers remember or are aware of the footprint of what was Forbes Field, seeing the present-day view taken from the same vantage point as the more than seven-decades-old image is a surprise: a good portion of the view is a big hunk of Posvar Hall wall.
We think you'll find these past and present images as fascinating as we do. We invite you to send any documents or images you have that would give us more information on these landmarks.