Photograph Album -
History of
The Buhl Planetarium and Institute of Popular Science
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

America's Fifth Major Planetarium

October 24, 1939 through August 31, 1991

[Operated by Carnegie Institute
from January, 1987 through February, 1994]

Internet Web Site Master Index for the History of
The Buhl Planetarium and Institute of Popular Science, Pittsburgh

The first six photographs show various views of the front of The Buhl Planetarium and Institute of Popular Science. Photograph 4 shows the brass sculptures, "Primitive Science" and "Modern Science," over the main building entrance. Photographs 5 and 6 show the sculptures, "The Heavens" and "The Earth" respectively, in the Indiana limestone on the front building facade; "The Heavens" is west of the front entrance, above a handicapped access ramp; "The Earth" is east of the front entrance. Photograph 7 shows the sculpture, "Day," over the outside entrance(facing east and facing the main entrance to the Allegheny Regional Branch of The Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh) to the East Gallery(formerly known as "The Hall of the Universe"). Photographs 8 and 9 show the sculpture, "Night," over the outside entrance(facing west and facing the former Allegheny City Post Office, which is now The Pittsburgh Children's Museum) to the 250-seat Lecture Hall(also known as "The Little Science Theater"). Photographs 10 and 11 show astronomical inscriptions on the east and west building exterior walls, respectively. Photographs 12 through 16 show various views of the exterior planetarium dome(which encloses a separate interior planetarium dome); the names of historic astronomers and scientists are inscribed just below the dome. All sculptures are the work of well-known, mid-twentieth century sculptor Sidney Waugh.

Photograph 17 shows The Buhl Planetarium and Institute of Popular Science and the Allegheny Regional Branch of The Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh in the 1950s, prior to creation of the Allegheny Center complex. Photograph 18 shows the Buhl building in 1956.

Photo 1 (1) ***Photo 2 (1) ***Photo 3 (1) ***Photo 4 (1) ***Photo 5 (1)

Photo 6 (1) ***Photo 7 (1) ***Photo 8 (1) ***Photo 9 (1) ***Photo 10 (1) ***Photo 11 (1)

Photo 12 (1) ***Photo 13 (1) ***Photo 14 (1) ***Photo 15 (1) ***Photo 16 (1)

Photo 17 *** Photo 18

1956 Photographs of The Buhl Planetarium and Institute of Popular Science

Photographs of some Buhl Planetarium and Institute of Popular Science exhibits
now displayed at The Carnegie Science Center

Construction of The Buhl Planetarium
and Institute of Popular Science

Images 1 through 5 show the former City Hall of the City of Allegheny, Pennsylvania just prior to(and, in the case of image 5, during) demolition to make way for construction of The Buhl Planetarium and Institute of Popular Science. City Hall was located on the Diamond Square in Allegheny City's downtown business district, just across the Allegheny River from Downtown Pittsburgh. A Third Class City, Allegheny City was annexed to the City of Pittsburgh(City of the Second Class) in December of 1907. The Pittsburgh municipal government no longer had a use for the Allegheny City Hall. Being a prime location in the middle of the, now, North Side business district[across the street from the first tax-supported Carnegie Library and Carnegie Hall, the North Side's Post Office(previously Allegheny City's main post office, now The Pittsburgh Children's Museum), caddy-corner from the North Side Market House, and a block away from the prestigious Boggs and Buhl Department Store), city officials wanted a use for the property which fit the location(they did not want it to become a district police station or fire station).

Image 1 (4) shows a view of Allegheny City's Diamond Square(a short time later to be transformed into "Ober Park;" during the urban renewal of the late 1960s, this park became "Allegheny Square," in the middle of the Allegheny Center shopping mall, office, and apartment complex development by ALCOA) showing the former Allegheny City Hall(on the left) and the Carnegie Free Library of Allegheny(on the right), with Carnegie Hall to the right of the Library clocktower. A small section of the North Side Market House can be seen to the extreme right. The original 18-floor tower of Allegheny General Hospital can be seen in the background. This photograph was taken by S.J. Link of Pittsburgh's Beaudry Studio, from the window of Henry Buhl, Jr.'s office in the Boggs and Buhl Department Store, on April 23, 1937.

Image 2 (4) shows the former Allegheny City Hall from across Federal Street at the Colonel James Anderson Memorial(then located at the corner of Federal and East Ohio Streets), next to the Carnegie Free Library of Allegheny. The North Side Post Office(now, The Pittsburgh Children's Museum) is located in the background on the left(with a small and large dome).
Date: April 23, 1937; Photographer: S.J. Link.

Image 3 (4) shows the former Allegheny City Hall from across West Ohio Street at the Diamond Square. The Carnegie Free Library of Allegheny can be seen in the background, on the right.
Date: April 23, 1937; Photographer: S.J. Link.

Image 4 (4) shows the former Allegheny City Hall(rear view), photograph taken from the northwest. To the right of City Hall, in the background, can be seen the Boggs and Buhl Department Store. Henry Buhl, Jr. was the co-owner of the Boggs and Buhl Department Store, which catered to the carriage trade, many customers coming from the Ridge Avenue mansions in Allegheny City(several of these homes form the main campus of the Community College of Allegheny County, five blocks from the Buhl Planetarium building). In 1927, an $11 million bequest, from the estate of Henry Buhl, Jr., was used to found the Buhl Foundation(then, the thirteenth largest foundation in the country). One million dollars of this bequest was used to construct The Buhl Planetarium and Institute of Popular Science in 1939. Boggs and Buhl closed in the late 1950s, and the building was razed to make-way for the Allegheny Center shopping mall, office, and apartment building complex in the late 1960s.
Date: April 23, 1937; Photographer: S.J. Link.

Image 5 (4) shows demolition of the former Allegheny City Hall, to make way for construction of The Buhl Planetarium and Institute of Popular Science. This view, taken from the Carnegie Free Library, shows the upper floors of the North Side Post Office(now The Pittsburgh Children's Museum), in the background.
Date: November 29, 1937; Photographer: S.J. Link.

Image 6 (4) shows excavation for The Buhl Planetarium and Institute of Popular Science. Note that the steam shovel has been removed from the hole and the work on the footers has begun. On the extreme right can be seen part of the Carnegie Free Library building. In the background can be seen the Hahn Furniture Building and Allegheny General Hospital.
Date: May 2, 1938; Photographer: S.J. Link.

Image 7 (4) is a close-up view of the construction sign, facing West Ohio Street, at the corner of the excavation site. The sign says "THE BUHL PLANETARIUM, W.F.TRIMBLE&SONS CO. ---GENERAL CONTRACTORS---, INGHAM & BOYD, Architects."
Date: May 2, 1938; Photographer: S.J. Link.

Image 8 (4) and Image 9 (4)(close-up view of building) show construction progress of The Buhl Planetarium and Institute of Popular Science on October 22, 1938(a year before the building opened to the public). The frame of the outer planetarium dome is shown under construction. The photograph, from which these two images were taken, was taken from the roof of the Boggs and Buhl Department Store. The Diamond Square(with the fountain now removed) is in the foreground of photograph 8, with part of the North Side Post Office(now The Pittsburgh Children's Museum) seen on the left and part of the Carnegie Free Library seen on the right.

Notice that a new Presidents' Conference Committee(PCC) streetcar(which had its Pennsylvania premier in 1936 in Pittsburgh) can be seen on West Ohio Street in front of the Buhl building; an older model streetcar can be seen coming down Federal Street. Being in the center of the former downtown business district of Allegheny City, Buhl was built where several streetcar lines converged, providing excellent transportation to the planetarium and science center. Today, most North Side and North Hills bus routes serve Allegheny Center, with the Buhl Planetarium building in the middle of the complex. By the end of the first decade of the new millenium, Light Rail Transit should return to serve the North Side, with stations serving Allegheny Center(and the Buhl building) and The Carnegie Science Center; this rail line will connect with the Downtown Subway System. The last PCC streetcar to operate revenue service in Pennsylvania(and one of the last in the United States) ended service, on the Drake Loop to Castle Shannon Station rail line in Pittsburgh's South Hills, with a return to the South Hills Village Light Rail station(prior to proceeding into the South Hills Rail Yard, adjacent to South Hills Village) on Saturday, September 4, 1999 at 10:29 p.m. PCC streetcars can still be seen at the Pennsylvania Trolley Museum in Arden, near Washington, Pennsylvania.
Date: October 22, 1938; Photographer: S.J. Link.

Image 10 is a color photograph of the Buhl building, with a PCC streetcar in the foreground. This photo shows Port Authority of Allegheny County/PATransit(originally Pittsburgh Railways Company) streetcar number 1652-5 turning from Federal Street(inbound) onto East Ohio Street. Shown in the background, behind the domed Buhl Planetarium building, is the domed North Side Post Office(formerly Allegheny City's main Post Office), which is now the home of The Pittsburgh Children's Museum. This photograph was taken in April of 1966.

Note that Federal Street was the dividing line between East Ohio Street and West Ohio Street. At the intersection of Federal Street and East Ohio Street was The Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, Allegheny Regional Branch(north side of East Ohio Street) and the Allegheny Market House(south side of East Ohio Street). At the intersection of Federal Street and West Ohio Street was The Buhl Planetarium and Institute of Popular Science(north side of West Ohio Street) and Ober Park(south side of West Ohio Street). With the urban renewal of the late 1960s, the Market House and Boggs and Buhl Department Store were razed to make-way for Allegheny Center, which included a two-level shopping mall, three office buildings(including the new IBM Building), and four high-rise apartment buildings; a three level parking garage was constructed under Allegheny Center. Sections of Federal Street, East Ohio Street, West Ohio Street, and a few other side streets in the area were closed to traffic to make a pedestrian mall. Ober Park became Allegheny Square, with a new fountain(which could also be used as an amphitheater) right in front of The Buhl Planetarium and Institute of Popular Science. Although some retail shops remain in the plaza outside of Allegheny Center Mall, the shopping mall has become a new office complex. A Senior Citizen mid-rise apartment building is now being constructed, just to the west of the Allegheny Center Mall(in a parking lot that was known as the "Farmers' Market" site, as this site was used for a weekly farmers' market, in the good-weather months, after the Market House was razed).

The domed Post Office building, next to Buhl, was replaced by a modern Allegheny Station Post Office on Federal Street(on the former site of the Pennsylvania Railroad's Fort Wayne Railroad Station, the main railroad station for Allegheny City), just south of the Allegheny Center Mall. Buhl Planetarium had been offered the old Post Office building for one dollar, as an expansion of Buhl's Institute of Popular Science, but Buhl management declined the offer. The Allegheny Center master plan included razing the old Post Office, for construction of a fifth apartment high-rise. However, the Pittsburgh History and Landmarks Foundation purchased the old Post Office and transformed it into a city history museum.

On June 12, 1983, The Pittsburgh Children's Museum started operations in the lower level of the Old Post Office city history museum. In 1987, the Children's Museum was granted use of all three floors of the building. Noting the Children's Museum's "total and positive" association with the Old Post Office building, the Pittsburgh History and Landmarks Foundation presented the deed for the building to The Pittsburgh Children's Museum in June of 1991. The programs of the Children's Museum were recently enhanced by a major building rehabilitation, completed in December of 1998. The Pittsburgh Children's Museum is one of eight sites in the nation chosen for National Public Science Day.

Although the Old Post Office city history museum no longer exists, the Historical Society of Western Pennsylvania has created a new Senator John Heinz Pittsburgh Regional History Center in Pittsburgh's Strip District(corner of Smallman and Thirtheenth Streets), just east of Downtown Pittsburgh's Golden Triangle.

Click here, to see additional 1937 images of the Carnegie Free Library of Allegheny.


Photographs with Number (1): Copyright 1999 Lynne S. Comunale, All Rights Reserved.


Internet Web Site Master Index for the History of
The Buhl Planetarium and Institute of Popular Science, Pittsburgh



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