West Liberty Avenue (1909-1913)

Central Meat Market - 1912.
William G. Dooley's Central Meat Market at the corner of Stetson and West Liberty Avenue in March 1912.

A great place to view vintage photos of Pittsburgh and it's many communities is through the University of Pittsburgh online digital archive. There are over 300 photos of Brookline, and most of them have been used on this website. There is also a zoom feature, which allows a more detailed glimpse of different locations in each photo. Shown here are the zoom-ins of images already posted on the Brookline Connection. One master photo can be made into multiple separate images. Shown here are the pictures within the pictures.

West Liberty Avenue was the central roadway through the borough of West Liberty (which comprised mostly the present-day Beechview and Brookline communities). Once known as Plummers Run (due to the creek that ran down the valley), development along West Liberty Avenue began in earnest after the opening of the Mount Washington Transit Tunnel, which brought streetcar service and rapid residential development to the southern suburbs of Pittsburgh. These photos give a glimpse of what West Liberty Avenue looked like from 1909 through 1913.

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The Pittsburgh Coal Company power
plant at the Brookline Junction in 1909.    Kerr's blacksmith shop at the corner of
Wenzell and West Liberty Avenue in 1909.
The Pittsburgh Coal Company power plant at the Brookline Junction (left), and Kerr's blacksmith shop, in 1909.

 

Two men at a signpost at the Brookline Junction, where
West Liberty Avenue meets Brookline Boulevard, in 1909.    A billboard advertising Brookline lots at
the intersection with Cape May in 1910.
The Brookline Junction (left), at the corner of West Liberty Avenue and Brookline Boulevard in 1909, and a
billboard near Cape May advertising available lots in the newly developing Brookline neighborhood in 1910.

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Many of the photos show construction workers along different points of West Liberty Avenue when the initial city sewer lines were being laid in 1910. These men look like the hard-working craftsmen and laborers that were the cornerstone of the Pittsburgh "Melting Pot" culture. Without the benefit of modern machinery, these men used the tools available and played a major part in helping to build the infrastructure essential to the development of the community of Brookline.

Workers laying a sewer line
south of Pauline Avenue - 1910.    Workers laying a sewer line
north of Ray Avenue - 1910.
Workers laying a sewer line south of Pauline Avenue (left), and north of Ray Avenue, in 1910.

 

Workers laying a sewer line
north of Ray Avenue - 1910.    Workers laying a sewer line
north of Ray Avenue - 1910.
Workers laying a sewer line north of Ray Avenue in 1910. The Capital Avenue intersection is visible in the left photo.

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Along West Liberty Avenue there were several areas that were more developed than others. One of these places was the junction with Warrington Avenue, near the present-day Liberty Tunnels. This was a crossing point for most traffic from Fairhaven and West Liberty heading towards Pittsburgh. It was also a hub for the suppliers and contractors that helped build the developing community of Brookline. Along with hotels, general stores and pubs, the intersection had two lumber suppliers, building contractors, a blacksmith and a wagon repair shop.

A wooden horse near the corner of West Liberty and
Warrington with an ad for the Gazette-Times - 1912.    A garage for a local building contractor - 1912.
An ad for the Gazette Times on a fence (left), and a building contractor's garage at the Warrington Junction, in 1912.

 

Ads adorn the side of Peter Shaffner's
wagon repair shop, near Pioneer, in 1912.    The Hill Building Company near Warrington - 1912
Ads along the side of Shaffner's wagon repair shop (left), and the Hill Building Company office, in 1912.

 

Peter Shaffner stands outside his home at the
corner of Pioneer Avenue and West Liberty in 1912.    Peter Shaffner's Hoseshoeing and Wagon Works next
to his home north of Pioneer Avenue in 1912.
Peter Shaffner stands in front of his home at the corner of West Liberty Avenue and Pioneer Avenue (left),
and Shaffner's Horseshoeing and Wagon Works, next to the family home, in 1912. The Shaffner family
once owned much of the terrain near the intersection of Warrington and West Liberty Avenue
and sold the land that would one day be the South Portal of the Liberty Tunnels.

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As residential development moved south from Pittsburgh, commercial development soon followed. By 1912, there were many businesses located between Warrington Avenue and the city line in Dormont. These establishments, which included markets, bars, hotels, restaurants, liquor stores, poolrooms and clothing stores, were usually situated near the major intersections and car stops along the broad avenue.

Kerr's Horseshoeing and Wagon Building at the
corner of West Liberty Avenue and Wenzell in 1912.    J. Claude Groceries, on the Brookline side of West
Liberty between Belle Isle and Pauline Avenue in 1912.
Kerr's Horseshoeing and Wagon Building (left), located at the intersection of West Liberty Avenue and Wenzell,
and J. Claude Groceries, located between Belle Isle Avenue and Pauline, in 1912.

 

J.L. O'Donnell's wholesale liquor store at the
corner of Curran Hill, across from Capital - 1912.    A shop across from Capital Avenue and a billboard
touting homes in Beechview's Curran-Algeo Plan - 1912.
J.L O'Donnell's wholesale liquor store (left), and another store across from Capital Avenue, in 1912.
The billboard advertises lots in Beechview's Curran-Alego housing plan.

 

A Pool Room at the corner of Capital Avenue in 1912.    A small market near Brookside Avenue in 1912.
A Pool Room near the intersection with Capital Avenue (left), and a small market near Brookside Avenue, in 1912.
The Pool Room was located at the site of the present-day West Liberty Auto Glass.

 

A Stableing barn across the street from
the Pool Room at Capital Avenue.    Approaching the intersection with
Curran Hill, heading south, in 1912.
A Stableing barn across from Capital Avenue (left), and looking south towards the intersection with Curran Hill, in 1912.

 

J.E. Sill Roofing and Repairing - 1912    A General Store located across
from the Ray Avenue steps in 1912.
J.E. Sill Roofing and Repairing, located north of Brookside across from the present-day Matthews Bronze (left),
and a General Store owned by Estella Flanders, across from the Ray Avenue steps, in 1912.

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In addition to the many commercial establishments, by 1912 there were several homes along West Liberty Avenue. Many of these dated back to the mid-1800s and were the family residences of some of the more prominent landowners of the time, like the Shaffners, Flanders, Beltzhoovers, Wenzells, Kerrs and Knowlsons. In some places West Liberty Avenue resembled an average residential street. Many of the homes shown here were torn down during the expansion of West Liberty Avenue in 1915, and most of the others were bought out, and the hillsides cut back, during later commercial expansion. Only a few of these vintage homes remain.

A side porch on a home north of Cape May - 1910.    A dog on the porch steps
of a home north of Cape May - 1910.
The side porch (left), and a dog on the front porch, of a home north of Cape May in 1910.

 

Homes north of Ray Avenue - 1910.    A wagon outside a store north
of Brookside Avenue in 1910.
Ground-level and hillside homes north of Ray Avenue (left), and wagons parked at a store north of Brookside, in 1910.

 

A ladder rests against a tree on the hill
above West Liberty near Belle Isle in 1912.    A home on the hillside across from Pauline in 1912.
A ladder rests against a tree (left) above West Liberty Avenue, and a nearby home
on the hillside across from Pauline Avenue, in 1912.

 

A home on the Brookline side of West Liberty between
Belle Isle Avenue and the Brookline Junction in 1912.    Beinhauer's Funeral Home across from
the Brookline Junction in 1912.
A Brookline home between Belle Isle Avenue and the Brookline Junction (left), and the Beinhauer estate and
Livery Stables at Wenzell Avenue, in 1912. The family residence also served as the Mortuary until 1921.

 

An outdoor well pump near Cape May - 1912    An outhouse near the side of a home
across from Cape May in 1912.
Before modern indoor plumbing became commonplace, the outdoor well pump and the outhouse
were essential amenities for all of the homes along West Liberty Avenue.

 

Homes above the intersection with Stetson Street
and homes above on Woodward Avenue - 1912    A multiple family dwelling across
from Stetson Street in 1912.
Homes along Woodward Avenue above Stetson Street (left), and a multiple-family dwelling across the street, in 1912.

 

Homes along the Beechview side of West Liberty
looking north towards Capital Avenue in 1912.    The Beltzhoover residence, located at the
bend leading to Capital Avenue in 1912.
Homes along the Beechview side of West Liberty Avenue, looking north towards Capital Avenue (left),
and the home of Jacob Beltzhoover, across the street at the bend leading to Capital, in 1912.

 

Homes on the Beechview side of West Liberty
heading north towards Capital Avenue in 1912.    Homes south of Pauline Avenue in 1912.
Homes on the Beechview side of West Liberty, heading north towards Capital (left), and south towards Saranac, in 1912.

 

  
Another home belonging to the Flanders family (left), north of Pauline Avenue,
and the Knowlston residence, south of Pauline, in 1912.

 

A small contracting office north of Pauline in 1912.    A Brookline home just north of
the city line at Dormont in 1912.
A small contracting office north of Pauline (left), and homes just north of the city line, near Dormont, in 1912.

 

Looking south towards homes near the
intersection with Cape May in 1912.    Homes in Sauter Place stand in the distance as a wagon
approaches the Pioneer Avenue intersection in 1912.
Looking south towards homes near Cape May (left), and looking north from Sauter Place towards Pioneer Avenue, in 1912.

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Back in the early 1900s, seeing a photographer was a novelty. There was a lot of equipment involved in the craft, and oftentimes residents would peer out the windows to see the process unfold. Little did they know that 100 years later, we would be viewing them with curiosity, wondering what life was like a century ago in Brookline.

A home north of Pioneer at Sauter Place - 1912.    I see you.
A home north of Pioneer Avenue, at the Sauter Place intersection (left) and a curious onlooker in 1912.
This home stands where the present-day Matthews Bronze facility is located.

 

A home near Cape May in 1912.    I see you.
Homes along West Liberty Avenue near Cape May (left), and a young boy in the window with a dog on the porch, in 1912.

 

A home at the corner of West Liberty
and Pauline Avenue in 1912.    I see you.
A stately home at the corner of Pauline Avenue (left) with a young boy peering through the window in 1912.

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Many of these photos above were taken in preparation for a construction project along West Liberty Avenue that would take place in 1915. The roadway would be widened and paved, and the streetcar line upgraded. The city of Pittsburgh was embarking on a major road building phase and within ten years most of the roads in Brookline and the surrounding communities would be paved in either brick or belgian block. The look of the Brookline and Beechview communities would rapidly change from the rural atmosphere pictured here to a more modern urban residential and commercial district.

Beinhauers Funeral Home in 1913.    Wenzell Avenue at West Liberty Avenue in 1913.
Beinhauer's Funeral Home and Livery Stables (left), and the intersection of Wenzell and West Liberty Avenue, in 1913.
Other than the block roadway along the line of the streetcar tracks, all local roads were dirt roadways at this time.

 

Mensinger's Stone Quarry - 1913    Mensinger's Stone Quarry - 1913
Mensinger's Stone Quarry was located along the hillside near the junction of West Liberty Avenue and Warrington.
Shown in 1913, the quarry stood above Saw Mill Run Creek near where the Liberty Tunnels would be cut in 1922.

 

From Sauter Place (near present-day Matthews Bronze)
looking north towards Pioneer Avenue in 1912.
From Sauter Place looking north towards Pioneer Avenue, which can be seen heading up the hill from left to right, in 1912.
Also visible are the West Side Belt Railway line and a home on Richter Street, on the other side of the tracks. In
the early days, Pioneer Avenue did not turn left towards West Liberty, but ran straight over the tracks and
on to Saw Mill Run. When the railroad was upgraded, the roadway was diverted to West Liberty Avenue.

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