Oct. 9, 1960: At the massive Diamond Market House that sat at present-day Market Square, farmers, butchers and bakers sold fresh meat, vegetables and flowers directly to the public. On one of its upper floors, you could roller skate to the accompaniment of live organ music.
Built between 1912 and 1917, the red brick, H-shaped structure was designed by Rutan and Russell. The market thrived for nearly 50 years. But with suburban expansion beyond the city’s core and the growth of shopping plazas featuring large supermarkets, business dwindled at the Downtown market.
In December, 1959, a 35-pound hunk of cornice fell from the building, striking Mary Shelton of Forest Hills on her head and crushing her right foot. Afterward, city officials toured the building and found that it was dim, drafty, splattered with pigeon manure and in need of between $160,000 to $300,00 in repairs.
City officials also found that the Marketmen’s Association, which rented the building, was six months behind in payments. The building was razed in 1961.
Luckily for Downtown shoppers, farmers still come to Market Square to sell their produce. The appearance of their temporary stalls, which are set up every Thursday between spring and November, enlivens the plaza with color and commerce.
Go to the Post-Gazette’s Pittsburgh Then and Now page to see how the square has changed since 1960.