What Pittsburgh Looked Like in the 1970s with these Fascinating Vintage Photos

In the 1970s, Pittsburgh’s economy underwent a seismic shift. The steel industry, which had been the backbone of the city’s economy for generations, was in decline. International competition and technological advancements led to the closure of many steel mills, resulting in significant job losses. This period, known as the “steel crisis,” marked the end of an era and presented the city with significant economic challenges. Despite these hardships, Pittsburgh proved its resilience. The city began to reinvent itself, focusing on sectors like healthcare, education, and technology. Universities and medical centers became major employers, and the city started to earn a new reputation as a hub for innovation and research.

One of the most iconic moments of the ’70s, though, was the rise of the Pittsburgh Steelers. The team, which had been struggling for years, suddenly hit its stride and went on to win four Super Bowl championships in this decade. This was the birth of the “Steel Curtain,” and it brought the city together in a way few other things could.

Life during this time was a mix of challenge and change. As the steel mills closed, many families had to adjust to a new economic reality. However, Pittsburghers are known for their grit and determination, and they faced these challenges head-on. The city’s vibrant cultural scene, diverse food offerings, and love for sports provided relief and brought people together. From cheering on the Steelers during their Super Bowl victories to enjoying a sandwich at Primanti Bros., the spirit of the city remained unbroken.

The cultural scene in Pittsburgh was also thriving during the ’70s. This was the decade when Pittsburgh’s own Andy Warhol really hit his stride on the national and international art scene. Back home, institutions like the Carnegie Museum of Art and the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra continued to flourish.

Pittsburgh’s food scene remained as diverse and delicious as ever. From the famous Primanti Bros.’ sandwich to the diverse ethnic cuisines reflecting the city’s multicultural heritage, there was something to satisfy every palate.

#1 Rock Concert in Pittsburgh’s Historic Schenley Park, 1970

#2 Mobil Gas Station at East Carson St and South 18th St, 1970

#3 East North Ave: View Toward Allegheny General Hospital, 1972

#4 View down South 18th Street at its intersection with Sarah Street, 1971.

#5 Southeast View of Burton’s Market at Forest Way and North Homewood Avenue, 1970

#6 Arlington Elementary School from Hart Way, Merged to Arlington PreK-8, 1970

#7 Fanny Farmer Candies Storefront at Forbes and Wood, 1971

#8 East Liberty Mall: Urban Redevelopment Authority Project, 1972

#10 East Carson St and 17th St: Shops and Walkers, 1972

#11 South Neville St: Cathedral Pharmacy at Fifth Ave, 1972

#12 Fifth Ave and North Neville St: Church of the Ascension, 1972

#13 East Liberty Mall: Planters and Pedestrians, 1972

#15 Highland Park Zoo: Children’s Section Entrance, 1976

#16 Pedestrians at Fifth Avenue and Smithfield Street near flagship Kaufmann’s store, 1971

#17 Smithfield Street intersection with Fifth Avenue, featuring Mellon National Bank Building, 1971

#18 Pedestrians at Fifth Avenue and Smithfield Street near flagship Kaufmann’s store, 1971

#19 Delevan Street looking towards Greenfield Avenue, 1970

#20 Arlington Elementary School entrance, now Arlington PreK-8, 1970

#21 Liberty Avenue with U.S. Steel and Gulf Tower, 1971

#22 Liberty Avenue featuring “Merry Christmas Shopping” MasterCard billboard, 1971

#24 Eleanor Street and Holt Street near Eleanor Street Steps, 1970

#25 Stanley Theater showcasing Filipino horror films, Benedum Center post-renovations, 1970.

#26 D.L. Clark Company entrance on Corry Street, later became office space, 1970.

#27 Stanley Theater on Penn Avenue, later Benedum Center for the Performing Arts, 1970.

#28 California Avenue featuring distant McKees Rocks Bridge, 1970.

#29 Joseph Horne Company store, now Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield building, 1970.

#30 Joseph Horne Company on Penn Avenue, merged with F&R Lazarus in 1994, 1970.

#31 16th Street Bridge, now David McCullough Bridge, 1970.

#32 Point State Park, a reclaimed area preserving historical and strategic heritage, 1971.

#33 Forbes Avenue meets McKee Place, includes view of University of Pittsburgh’s landmarks, 1972.

#34 Otto Piene’s Sky Ballet at Point State Park, 1970

#35 Building at Kennard Playground, Glimpse of Courts and Field, 1970

#36 Downtown Pittsburgh: Pedestrians at Fourth Ave and Smithfield St, 1970

#37 Businesses along Smithfield St at Fourth Ave, One Oxford Centre Today, 1970

#38 West North Avenue: Retzer-Hyde Drugs and Traffic, 1971

#39 Retzer-Hyde Drugs at Federal St and West North Ave, 1971

#40 East St near Royal St, Kessler Whiskey Billboard in View, 1971

#41 Corner of Forbes Ave and Grant St: Historic Buildings, 1971

#43 Commerce on Murray Ave: Raggs Clothing Store, 1971

#44 Manor Theater: Playing “I Love My Wife” and “Topaz,” 1971

#45 Yeshiva Schools Bus on Fifth Ave, Lubavitch Educational Legacy, 1970

#46 Federal St: Looking Toward East and West North Ave, 1972

#47 East Liberty Mall: Century Federal Savings on Penn Ave, 1972

#48 Bayard St and North Dithridge St: Water Pooling, 1972

#49 East North Ave: Cars and People, Federal and West North Ave, 1972

#50 City-County Building: Seat of Pittsburgh and Allegheny County, 1973

#51 Liberty Ave at Fifth Ave: Mellon Bank in View, 1973

#54 Pittsburgh State Office Building’s Liberty Avenue entrance, now River Vue Apartments, 1971

#55 Construction on 7th Street in front of Stanley Theater, now Benedum Center, 1971

#56 Front entrance of Duquesne Club on Smithfield Street, 1971

#57 View southwest to Delevan Street from Lilac Street intersection, 1970

#58 Northwest along Saw Mill Run Boulevard at West Warrington Avenue, 1970

#59 West Warrington Avenue with 1971 Dodge Demon billboard, 1970

#60 View of West Penn Hospital across Friendship Avenue parklet, 1970

#61 View of West Penn Hospital from South Mathilda and Friendship, 1970

#62 Cremo Street at Martindale Street looking towards Reedsdale, 1970

#63 Spring Garden Avenue looking towards Roethlein Way, 1971

#64 Intersection of 28th Street and Liberty Avenue, 1971

#65 Faulsey Way towards Fontella Street with John M. Conroy School, 1971

#66 West North Avenue and Federal Street featuring Retzer-Hyde Drugs, 1971

#67 Sterrett Street at Forest Way looking southwest, 1970

#69 Butler Street with “Jerry’s” and “Coca-Cola” signs, 1970

#70 Fifth Avenue featuring “Groddy Sales” and “Great Lakes Paint,” 1970

#72 Winchester Thurston School grounds, co-ed since 1991, 1970

#73 Lincoln Avenue between Chaucer and Deary Streets, 1970

#74 Lincoln Avenue featuring “White Linen Services,” 1970

#75 Penn Avenue with “Penn Pizza” and “Jack King Laundry,” 1970

#76 Graffitied commercial property and local bar on Penn Avenue, 1970.

#77 Properties at Friendship Avenue and Amber Street intersection, 1970.

#78 Pedestrians and businesses at Oliver Avenue and Wood Street, 1970.

#79 Fort Duquesne Boulevard featuring a George A. Kelly Company ad, 1970.

#80 View of Fort Duquesne Bridge from 7th Street intersection, 1970.

#81 7th Street featuring an Esso gas station and Century Building, 1970.

#82 Penn Avenue and 7th Street intersection, looking towards Barkers Place, 1970.

#83 Penn and Main: Marvin’s Cleaners and Bressler’s Deviled Crabs ad, 1971.

#84 Businesses on Penn Avenue looking northeast from Main Street, 1971.

#85 Bryant Street section blocked off for street repairs, 1970.

#86 Billboard construction at Baum Boulevard and North Craig Street, 1970.

#87 Businesses on Liberty Avenue including Dr. M.E. Weinberger, 1970.

#88 Liberty Avenue features Saint Joseph Church, now part of Saint Maria Goretti Parish, 1970.

#89 Roadwork on Liberty Avenue at Cedarville Street, 1970.

#90 Billboard ads above parking lot, now Agnes R. Katz Plaza, 1970.

#92 Tioga Street and Oakwood Street intersection, 1970.

#93 Heth’s Run flooding due to water main break near Allegheny River, 1970.

#94 Heth’s Run Bridge overview, rehabilitated in 2014 to resemble original design, 1970.

#95 Columbus Avenue Bridge entrance from California Avenue, 1970.

#96 Wood Street featuring pedestrians and commerce, 1970.

#97 Davis Avenue Bridge repairs, bridge later demolished in 2006, 1970.

#99 Pedestrians on Oliver Avenue looking towards Wood Street, 1970.

#100 Former St. Wenceslaus Church near David McCullough Bridge, 1970.

#101 Chestnut Street businesses near David McCullough Bridge, 1970.

#102 Grant Street and Sixth Avenue intersection, 1971.

#103 David McCullough Bridge entrance from Chestnut Street, 1970.

#104 Liberty Avenue meets Seventh Avenue, view of upcoming George Aiken’s restaurant at the intersection, 1971.

#105 View of Penn Avenue at the intersection with Shady Avenue in East Liberty, 1971.

#106 Old Lincoln Pumping Station, now Paulson Community Recreation Center, showing graffiti and boarded windows, 1971.

#107 Sterrett Street meets Monticello Street, view looking southwest, 1970.

#108 Intersection of McKee Place and Iroquois Way, looking towards Forbes Avenue, 1972.

#109 Pedestrians and traffic on McKee Place, looking towards Forbes Avenue, 1972.

#110 Sarah Street meets South 18th Street, includes Casne Electric hardware store, 1971.

#111 South 30th Street Steps viewed from Mary Street towards Harcum Way, 1971.

#112 Noblestown Road meets Alter Street, sign marking Pittsburgh city limits, 1971.

#113 South 18th Street and Sarah Street intersection viewed from South 18th Street, 1971.

#114 Grant Street meets Sixth Avenue, features FHLBank in H.K. Porter Building, 1971.

#115 Liberty Avenue and Stanwix Street intersection bustling with pedestrians and commerce, 1972.

#116 Penn Avenue meets 9th Street, view of pedestrians and businesses, 1972.

#117 Intersection of Sixth Avenue and Smithfield Street with Oliver Building coffee shop, 1972.

#118 Businesses on Reynolds Street, viewed towards Hastings Street, 1972.

#119 Barber shop on Reynolds Street near Hastings Street, 1972.

#120 Steam from manholes on Penn Avenue at 13th Street intersection, 1972.

#121 Cleanup of water main break on Morgan Street near Centre Avenue, 1972.

#122 Kendall Street meets Duncan Street, view towards Celadine Street, 1972.

#123 Brownsville Road featuring Union Baptist Church turned Zion Christian Church, 1972.

#124 Brownsville Road at Madeline Street, looking towards Woodford Avenue, 1972.

#125 Reynolds Street at Hastings and Kingston, features Point Breeze Market, 1972.

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Written by Kevin Clark

Kevin Clark is a historian and writer who is passionate about sharing the stories and significance behind historical photos. He loves to explore hidden histories and cultural contexts behind the images, providing a unique insight into the past.

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One Comment

  1. These are great – and I didn’t notice any blatantly incorrect captions in this one. But I’m not very knowledgeable about the North Side and West End.

    I’m sure someone will find something that’s been mis-identified. Should make it a competition 🙂