Skyscrapers in Pittsburgh

Skyscrapers on Sixth Avenue    Oxford Center

In 1888, the five-story Allegheny County Courthouse was built. The Courthouse's 249 foot tower stood for twenty-four years as the highest peak in town. Near the end of the 19th century the use of structural steel revolutionized construction design. The strength of steel meant buildings could now rise higher than ever before. The entire landscape of the city, now populated by buildings five-storys high or less, would soon erupt skyward.

In 1895, the 13-story Carnegie Building rose on Fifth Avenue. This was the first steel-framed tower built in the city. Soon, the skyline was dotted with new towers that rose above the Triangle. The Frick Building, built in 1902, was the first building to reach 20-storys. That same year, the 24-story Farmers Bank Building, at 344 feet, eclipsed the Courthouse tower as the tallest structure in the city. The Oliver Building, at 347 feet, was completed in 1910, and two years later the First National Bank Building rose to a height of 26-storys (387 feet). Sixteen years passed before the Grant Building, build to 37-storys (485 feet) in 1928, became the city's tallest skyscraper. The Koppers Tower, finished in 1929, measured in at 475 feet, falling just shy of the mark.

The Allegheny County Courthouse, the Cathedral
of Learning and the Gulf Building in night scenes.
In 1890 the courthouse was the tallest building in
the city. By 1932 the Cathedral and Gulf Building
were built to heights of over 550 feet.
The County Courthouse, the Cathedral of Learning and the Gulf Building in night scenes. The Courthouse Tower
was once the tallest structure in the city. By 1932, the Cathedral and Gulf Building towered over 500 feet.

In Oakland, east of downtown Pittsburgh, on the University of Pittsburgh campus, ground was broken in 1927 for a proposed 52-story Gothic Cathedral. Although it only rose to 42-storys (535 feet), the Cathedral of Learning, when completed in 1936, was an architectural masterpiece. It is the tallest educational building in the country.

While the Cathedral rose in the east, the Gulf Building, completed in 1932, rose to a height of 583 feet, with 44-storys. For the next thirty-eight years, the beacon atop the Gulf Building stood at the Top of the Triangle. The Great Depression put a hold on further large building projects, and signalled the end of a construction phase that could be considered the city's first renaissance. It is more accurately described as "modernization."

The first true renaissance began after World War II. Steel for construction was again readily available and a building boom ensued, beginning in 1950 with the construction of the US Steel/Mellon Bank Building (now Three Mellon Center). The stainless steel skyscraper rose to 550 feet, thirty-three feet short of the Gulf Building. The next twenty years saw several new skyscrapers re-draw the city skyline. The end of Renaissance I was punctuated by the towering US Steel Building, dedicated in 1970. The tower rose to an incredible 831 feet, or sixty-four stories, making it visible to the South Hills over the hills of Mount Washington, which rise to a height of over 600 feet.

U.S. Steel Building under construction - 1970
The 64-story U.S. Steel, under construction in 1969, rises above the City of Pittsburgh

Renaissance II began in the 1980s, and saw several new skyscrapers rise towards the clouds. One PPG Place and Oxford Centre both eclipsed 600 feet and forty storys. The new headquarters of Mellon Bank, One Mellon Center, completed in 1983, rose to 725 feet, or fifty-four storys. Like the USS Tower, the upper floors of the Mellon Tower are also visible to the southern communities. The final skyscraper built during the 1980s boom was Fifth Avenue Place, dedicated in 1988. Although only thirty-one storys high, the 178 foot mast at the top brings the total height to 616 feet, making it the fourth tallest building in Pittsburgh.

For twenty years the Steel City Skyline remained basically the same. This changed in September of 2008, when workers added the final beam to Pittsburgh's newest skyscraper, the 23-story Three PNC Plaza. The building opened in 2009. PNC Financial Services Group then announced, in 2011, that work will soon begin on a 40-story corporate headquarters, known as The Tower at PNC Plaza. Construction is set to begin in 2012 and finish in 2015.

<PNC Planning 2012 Start On New Headquarters Tower Downtown>

Artists conception of new 40-story PNC Tower
Artists conception of new 40-story PNC Tower.
Construction is to be completed in 2015.


Skyscrapers built in Pittsburgh since the dawn of the 20th century.

1895
1898
1897
1900
1901
1901
1902
1902
1902
1903
1905
1905
1906
1906
1906
1906
1907
1907
1907
1908
1910
1912
1913
1916
1917
1928
1928
1929
1929
1929
1929
1932
1933
1934
1936
1950
1951
1952
1952
1952
1957
1957
1958
1959
1960
1960
1963
1963
1964
1964
1966
1968
1970
1970
1971
1972
1975
1982
1983
1983
1984
1984
1986
1987
1988
2000
2009
***
2015

Carnegie Building
Schenley Hotel
Park Building
Empire Building
Arrott Building
Peoples Pittsburgh Trust

Frick Building
Keystone Bank
Farmers Bank
Bessemer Building
Diamond National Bank

Wabash Railroad Terminal
The Carlyle
Commonwealth Building

Frick Annex
Benedum Trees Building
Union National Bank
Keenan Building
Century Building
J&L Headquarters
Oliver Building

First National Bank
Bell Telephone
William Penn Hotel
Union Arcade
Clark Building
Pittsburgher Hotel
Keystone Athletic Club

Grant Building
Koppers Building
Cathedral of Learning
Gulf Building
Duquesne Club
Kossman Building
Allegheny General Hospital
US Steel/Mellon Bank Tower
Alcoa Building
Three Gateway Center
One Gateway Center
Two Gateway Center
State Office Building
Bell Telephone
Porter Building

Hilton Hotel
Manor Building
Four Gateway Center
Federal Building
IBM Building
Washington Plaza

Gateway Towers
Litchfield Towers
Oliver Plaza

U.S. Steel Tower
Westinghouse Tower
Centre City Tower
Pittsburgh National Bank
Two PNC Plaza
Federated Tower

Oxford Centre
One Mellon Centre
One PPG Place
Six PPG Place
Westin Hotel
CNG Tower

Fifth Avenue Place
Mellon Client Service Center
Three PNC Plaza
***
The Tower at PNC Plaza

13-story
11-story
15-story
12-story
18-story
16-story
20-story
14-story
24-story
13-story
13-story
11-story
21-story
21-story
19-story
19-story
21-story
18-story
12-story
12-story
25-story
26-story
20-story
23-story
15-story
23-story
25-story
21-story
37-story
34-story
42-story
44-story
13-story
12-story
22-story
41-story
30-story
24-story
20-story
20-story
16-story
12-story
18-story
22-story
13-story
22-story
27-story
13-story
24-story
26-story
22-story
39-story
64-story
23-story
26-story
30-story
34-story
27-story
46-story
54-story
40-story
14-story
27-story
32-story
31-story
14-story
23-story
***
40-story

The Oliver Building    Federated Tower
The 25-story Oliver Building, opened in 1910, and the 27-story Federated Tower, opened in 1982.


Timeline for Pittsburgh's Tallest Buildings:

1872-1888 - Trinity Episcopal Cathedral, 328 Sixth Avenue, 200 feet.
1888-1902 - Allegheny County Courthouse, 436 Grant Street, 249 feet.
1902-1910 - Farmers Bank Building, 301 Fifth Avenue, 344 feet.
1910-1912 - Oliver Building, 535 Smithfield Street, 347 feet.
1912-1928 - First National Bank Building, 511 Wood Street, 387 feet.
1928-1932 - Grant Building, 330 Grant Street, 485 feet.
1932-1970 - Gulf Building, 707 Grant Street, 582 feet.
1970-present - U.S. Steel Tower, 600 Grant Street, 841 feet.


For more information on Pittsburgh Skyscrapers:

Wikipedia - List of Tallest Buildings in Pittsburgh.
Skyscrapers.com -
Pittsburgh Skyscraper Diagram.

Skyscrapers in Pittsburgh.

<Historical Facts> <> <Brookline History>