Thomas U. Walter: A day in Pittsburgh

From Thomas U. Walter’s diary, Thomas Ustick Walter Papers, The Atheneum, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Thursday, May 8, 1856.

Arrived at Pittsburgh at 1 A.M. Took lodgings at the “Monongahela House” — slept until 8 A.M.

Took a carriage and rode around the city — it was a Philadelphia look but excessively smokey and dirty — some well built houses, but no appearance of comfort. Allegheny City, on the other side of the river, look somewhat cleaner, but the whole region is filled with smoke and dust from the great number of furnaces always in blast., the factories and the steamboats, all of which use bituminous coal.

 

Thomas Ustick Walter Papers. Microfilm copy, Smithsonian Archives of American Art, microfilm reel 4133.

Thomas Ustick Walter Papers. Microfilm copy, Smithsonian Archives of American Art, microfilm reel 4133.

The fellmonger’s office

Wool pulling. Credit: Rudolf A. Clemen, By-Products in the Packing Industry (1927).

Wool pulling. Credit: Rudolf A. Clemen, By-Products in the Packing Industry (1927).

Fellmongers disappeared from the American industrial landscape in the last century. They were specialized meat and leather industry byproducts dealers who also prepared skins and leather from lamb pelts removed in slaughterhouses. In 2000, the last American fellmongers processed a batch of wool inside the Pittsburgh Wool Company. The exercise was captured in a documentary film produced for the Pittsburgh History Center and was documented in reports I prepared for the History Center and for the National Park Service (now in the Library of Congress: HAER No. PA-572).

Leonard1889

James Callery’s Duquesne tannery (right) shortly after it was built. It later became the Pittsburgh Wool Company. The site on the Allegheny River north shore had tanneries and wool pulleries there continuously from the 1830s through 2000.

Pittsburgh Wool Company facade, 1996. Photo by author.

Pittsburgh Wool Company facade, 1996. Photo by author.

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Pittsburgh loses another historic site with the demolition of former meatpacking plant

Wednesday afternoon, the day before Thanksgiving, I got a call from Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reporter Bob Bauder. Bauder was working on a story about the demolition of  buildings located along the north shore of the Allegheny River in Pittsburgh. The reporter had gotten my name from a colleague who had kept a copy of a 1997 web page I had written about some historic preservation regulatory review work done along the road where the buildings known as the Millvale Industrial Park were located. Bauder wanted to get some more information on the building he had driven by many times and his story ran in the November 26, 2010, edition of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. Continue reading

Pittsburgh: Steel City, Stockyard City (updated)

My paper on the development of stockyards in the eastern United States (and ultimately, Chicago) was presented at the 2009 Vernacular Architecture Forum conference in Butte, Montana. Last week I learned that a revised and expanded version will be published later this year. Details to come. The paper was published in Western Pennsylvania History: Model for the Nation: Sale, Slaughter and Processing at the East Liberty Stockyards (2010).

In the meantime, here’s an illustrated version of the 2009 VAF paper abstract:

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