Photo Antiquities opens Pittsburgh Bicentennial exhibit


Photo courtesy of Photo Antiquities

The Ferris Wheel, which was invented by Allegheny City’s George Washington Gale Ferris, Jr. Part of the Frederick Thomas Gretton photography collection.

By Justin Criado

Photo Antiquities Museum of Photographic History in Historic Deutschtown opened a new exhibit in observance of Pittsburgh’s Bicentennial Celebration. Historic Pittsburgh – Happy 200! will be open for a whole year, until March 18, 2017.

The exhibit features photos of the city in its infancy, including Northside attractions like Exposition Park (the original home of the Pittsburgh Pirates), Union Bridge (later replaced by the Manchester Bridge) and the Soldiers Monument on Monument Hill (Monument Hill is now occupied by the CCAC campus.)

Thirty five photographs, some never before seen by the public, printed from the museum’s carefully preserved glass plate negatives collection of Pittsburgh photographer Frederick Thomas Gretton, will be displayed.

Gretton was the first chief chemist at Jones & Laughlin Steel on South Side and an avid photographer in his spare time, capturing many pictures of Pittsburgh in its industrial heyday of the mid-to-late 1800s.

Other images in the collection include those of George Washington Gale Ferris, Jr. who worked on bridges and railroads, but become most famous for his invention the Ferris Wheel. Originally from Illinois, Ferris moved to 204 Arch St. (now 1318 Arch St.) in present day Central Northside before debuting his circular marvel during the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition. The Ferris house is a registered historic landmark.

Pittsburgh was incorporated as a city on March 18, 1816; 23 years before photography was introduced to the world so no photographs of Pittsburgh’s incorporation ceremony exist.

Allegheny City, which later became known as Pittsburgh’s Northside, was incorporated in 1788 and didn’t officially become part of the city of Pittsburgh until Dec. 7, 1907 when it was annexed.

Tours are encouraged. To schedule one call 412-231-7881.

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