Thursday, March 15, 2012

The Remains of Schweizer Loch

 One of Pittsburgh's oldest neighborhoods, Schweizer Loch was a Swiss community on the North Side, near what is now the 16th Street Bridge. The neighborhood was packed with row-houses as early as 1872, and probably much earlier than that. Highway development and expanding industry eroded the neighborhood to such an extent that by the time of these photographs, only four homes were still standing. These homes, along with a church, a few scattered warehouses, and a lone Victorian commercial / apartment building, are all that remain of the once very urban, dense, and historic neighborhood. The remaining architectural styles present in the neighborhood seem to represent very well the Pittsburgh vernacular style of detached and attached row-houses, some with Italianate trim. This was once probably the prevailing style of home architecture in the city.

It is my hope that these photographs will illustrate the importance of preservation, and the fragility of our historic neighborhoods, which can be lost forever.

Three of the four surviving homes in Schweizer Loch can be seen in this photograph. This street was once an uninterrupted row of houses. 

One of four houses left standing in this once dense, urban row-house neighborhood. Notice the empty belgian block streets.  

Paths cleared for highways decimated large portions of the old neighborhood.

Two of four surviving homes in Schweizer Loch.  

Close-up of facades. 

City streets with no houses.

Progress and Madison Street, as it looked during the 1913 flood.

The neighborhood, as it appears today.

Parking lots

Where a neighborhood once stood.

All of this neglect and waste in the shadow of the $2000-a-month Heinz Lofts, a couple hundred feet away. When there were actual houses here, it was affordable to everyone, not just the well-off (the same could be said of downtown and the Strip District).

A lone Victorian commercial / apartment building and adjacent row-house, at Voeghtly and E. Lacock St.


  1. Another great job. I think the lone, yellow brick house may be super old: notice the party wall extends a foot above the roof which was a fire prevention technique mandated before water lines were laid. Also, the coal cellar has a sidewalk entrance, typical when the rear would be dominated by privy vaults and difficult to transport heavy loads to.

  2. Fascinating stuff. The building you ID as commercial/apartment - with the door at the corner - reminds me of many an English neighbourhood pub, the sort of local you can easily still find in former mill and pit towns in Lancs and Yorks.

  3. It's a shame how much of the North Side has been lost.

  4. when i was working at the heinz loft renovation, i would sometimes park my truck on carpenter way or the next street up in shweitzer loch, of course i didnt know the name of the neighborhood then, i would walk by those few homes, and think what is this place, well it was a neighborhood, but not anymore.

  5. why do you hate the well off?

  6. why do you hate the well off?>>