These images comprise a collection of obvious targets for Pittsburgh’s vandalizing youth in the city’s not-so-distant past.
It seems every year or two from the 1970s through the 1990s, some brazen act of public vandalism would draw newspaper photographers to points across the city. Camera in hand, they documented the latest destruction that was evidence perhaps not so much of pure maliciousness or criminality so much as a lack of things to do.
Children and teenagers (usually males) evidently require more constructive pursuits, and in a time before video games provided a comparatively innocuous outlet, their energy went toward the destruction of public landmarks.
Permanently or momentarily stationary objects made the best targets: schools, statues and cars. Walls were good sport, as, unfortunately, were cemeteries.
The more visible the better. That would be you, Liberty Tunnels.
And as for the folder marked “Vandalism” we found in the archives? What does it say about the journalistic ethics of shooting and publishing these photographs? Did it lead to copycat acts and beget even more destruction? Or was it a warning to the public to keep an eye out for such vandals in an effort to aid their capture?
Hard to say in retrospect, but there’s something almost artistic in the records of the destruction, particularly with poor old Ethel.