Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Spring Garden: Working Class History

Spring Garden is one of Pittsburgh's oldest surviving neighborhoods, but it hangs in a delicate balance. Many of the historic homes are abandoned and in danger of being demolished. It's a poor and blighted neighborhood, but it's safe. Many of the homes were built during the Civil War era or earlier. Spring Garden was a working class neighborhood, and this is where you will find unique examples of modest, working class style Pittsburgh homes from the mid-19th century. Spring Garden has a large collection of surviving wood frame homes from the Antebellum period, which were once representative of a Pittsburgh vernacular architecture, but are now uncommon.  I worry that these houses, and the neighborhood, may not be around much longer, if the cycle of decay and demolition continues. That is why I have taken great care to photograph all of the historically significant properties I could find.

1214 Voskamp.  This home was the location of a murder-suicide in 1952.  It is now vacant and deteriorating.  According to the neighbor, the owner refuses to sell or make repairs.

Houses on left and right were on the 1882 GM Hopkins map. Here they are photographed in 2011, shortly before demolition by the city of Pittsburgh.
View today. Houses on left and right are gone. 

House on right is on city demolition list.

Building on Spring Garden Avenue, photographed shortly before demolition in 2011.

House with balcony is for sale.

This house is on the 1872 GM Hopkins map.

Also on the 1872 GM Hopkins map.

This one is probably extremely old.

Circa 1890s.  Appears to be occupied.

This one probably won't be around much longer.



On the 1872 GM Hopkins map.  This one may even be decades older than that.

Potentially very old.

Appears to be on the 1872 GM Hopkins map.  Hexagonal asphalt siding, circa 1920s?

Pittsburgh working class history.


Renovation in progress!

Itin Street

Itin Street

Itin Street

Old Honesty Street

The brick building on the right is the former Woelfel and Linke Tannery, built circa 1880.  The house on the left is shown in an 1880s sketch of the tannery.

High Street

House on High Street.  On the city demolition list.

This apartment building was owned by the city of Pittsburgh and offered for sale a few years ago. Not sure if it sold. The asking price was only $3900.

Wreckovated Victorian

Gorgeous Victorian entry doors at 1209 Spring Garden Ave.


  1. Great website, love this photoset. Such a shame that house pictured on spring garden ave (with the blue trim) was demolished. I would have loved to own that! Also, what street is that tiny yellow house with no houses beside it on? So cute...

  2. That little yellow house is on Voskamp Street. I believe the owner had health issues and the house has been sitting vacant for a few years. Unfortunately, that siding is aluminum. Not much of it is left.

  3. The one with the brick porch and has (this one is probly extreamly old is my grandmas old home and the house my dad grew up in and me to half my life it was beautiful my grandma kept it clean and my grandfather kept the work done I lov d it there it's sad to drive past there and see the damage on the outside I can only imagine the inside :(

  4. Your pictures are absolutely incredible. I've always been fascinated w old buildings of any type. Thanks for your dedication w this.

  5. Love looking at the pictures on your site, but it makes me sad to see so much of what made Pittsburgh what it is being demolished due to years and years of pure neglect.

  6. Loved looking at all your pictures! Thank you for taking the time and effort to make such a wonderful site!

  7. I just bought the little yellow house, I own the one two doors done from it and it will be ready April 1st.It was a general store and is from 1891. I was trying to buy the murder suicide house but the guy is being a pain, didn't know that had happened there

  8. I just bought the little yellow house and should be starting it in a month or so. I own the one 2 doors down from it and should have it ready for April 1st. I was trying to buy the murder suicide house but the guy is being a pain so I may have the city go after him so it doesn't get torn down.

  9. Who owns the house with the little yellow tabby cat? I hope the cat's okay! I'm surprised hipsters and architecture enthusiasts aren't buying up these wonderful homes!

  10. Who owns the house with the little yellow tabby cat? I hope he isn't abandoned like the great houses! It's surprising that hipsters and architecture enthusiasts aren't buying up these historic homes! I stayed at an Airbnb nearby in the Troy Hill section and loved it.

  11. Love this! Where can I find old pictures or sketches of this neighborhood? I'm buying a house on Tripoli and would love to see/learn about its history. Couldn't find much online.