Historic Photos of Pittsburgh Captures City’s Past in Rare B&W Photos From Pitt Collections

Issue Date: 
July 7, 2008


A view of Fifth Avenue, Downtown, in 1931. The former Jenkins Arcade is at the end of the street.

Just in time for the commemoration of Pittsburgh’s 250th birthday comes Historic Photos of Pittsburgh (Turner Publishing) by Miriam Meislik, archivist and photo curator for the University of Pittsburgh Archives Service Center, part of the University Library System.

With fact-filled photo captions and chapter introductions by Meislik, the new book presents nearly 200 rare black-and-white photographs, selected from Pitt’s photographic archives, to tell the story of Pittsburgh’s fascinating past. Historic photos include images from the 1860s to the present, pulled from collections as diverse as the Darlington Family Papers, Pittsburgh City Photographer Collection, Smoke Control Lantern Slides, the Pittsburgh Railways Company Collection, and many others.

“My goal was to present Pittsburgh as a city of change, a city that is constantly trying to improve itself, and to show more of the people who lived here,” said Meislik. “Many of the books published focus on the architecture. Those types of images are in my book, but I also wanted to show playgrounds and shops and people in their daily lives,” she said.

Book chapters include “A Growing City,” “Moving Forward,” “Hard Times and Other Challenges,” and “Era of Renewal.”

In her position at Pitt, Meislik works with rare photos on a daily basis. She often receives requests from individuals for photographs of old buildings in their effort to restore facades, verify the purpose of a building, and apply for historic landmark status.

Historic Photos of Pittsburgh is part of Turner Publishing’s Historic Photos series. These books, highlighting the history of the great cities, pivotal events, and legendary figures across America, have been acclaimed as a staple in the collection of anyone who loves history.


The intersection of South Craig Street and Forbes Avenue, Oakland, in 1910. The spires of St. Paul Cathedral are on the left.