Here’s a really fascinating mapping website to check out: Pittsburgh Historic Maps is based on city maps of Pittsburgh, going back to 1833. (For more recent years, there are aerial photos.) You can zoom in on any neighborhood, or part of a neighborhood. There’s a timeline with a little slider (visible in the top of the map image), which you can move to watch as the selected area changes over the decades. Street names change, houses and buildings appear, or disappear. And as the view fades from one map from the other, you can see both at once (as in the image below).
You can look at any section of the city, but of course we wanted to look at our neighborhood. We zoomed in on the area that is now the central streets of Polish Hill. Below is a series of screen shots of the same section, from the mid 19th century to last year.
Here’s the view between the 1840s and 1870s, when this area was called Springfield Farms and Minersville. There wasn’t much there yet — West Penn Hospital, the railroad. Just for comparison, there are some more familiar landmarks — like the s-curve of Herron Avenue — visible in the shadow of the 1870s map coming into view:
Here is the same area around 1870 — lots of areas plotted out, but not many buildings. Notice West Penn Hospital on the lower left — that area is now West Penn Park:
And again around 1880, with a lot more houses and buildings (the little yellow boxes):
Around 1890. There’s a brick factory where the church is now, and Brereton Avenue is now Jones Avenue:
Sometime after 1905 — the church and the school are now there. What was 33rd Street 10 years earlier is now Herron Avenue. Millwood Avenue has become Melwood Avenue, and a bigger thoroughfare, Grant Boulevard, has been created:
At this point, the maps have specific dates on them. Here’s the same area, in 1910:
By 1923, West Penn Hospital is gone, and the area is now a park and playground. Dickson Street has been renamed Dobson Street. Grant Boulevard has become Bigelow Boulevard:
The view switches to an aerial photograph in 1939:
Then there’s a jump to 1957:
And a much bigger jump, almost 50 years, to 2005. Not as many railroad tracks as before:
And then a Google Maps image from 2012:
Again, the website is Pittsburgh Historic Maps. Check it out when you have some time to spare, because you’re likely to get absorbed looking at how the city has changed over time.