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Pittsburgh 1951: The Hubbub of the City at Sixth and Grant

This photo should look familiar to our eagle-eyed readers because we recently visited this neighborhood in the City of Pittsburgh and viewed it from another angle on the same day. The image, dated 1951 shows a busy scene at the intersection of Grant Street and Sixth Avenue.

In the center of the photograph is a fairly busy parking lot containing a cross-section of the cars in use at the time. Sixth Avenue is to the right-hand side of the lot and a number of cars, trucks, and buses, are visible on it. The last building on the left-hand side of Sixth housed a Gulf station and possibly an open fronted garage. Meanwhile out on Grant Street in the forefront of the photo is a mix of traffic containing both pre and post-war automobiles.

For our regular readers, if you have not identified the scene yet, at the top of the ten-story building is a sign for “Midtown Motors,” a Ford dealership we visited a short time ago at Pittsburgh: Central Lincoln Mercury and Midtown Motors Ford.

Tell us what you find of interest in this photograph courtesy of the University of Pittsburgh Library.

28 responses to “Pittsburgh 1951: The Hubbub of the City at Sixth and Grant

  1. We love these pictures. Great cars. The center left taxi cab is peculiar. It almost looks to be a Tucker. Maybe somebody knows. In the center the 1949 Buick Roadmaster sedanette(?) was one of the beautiful GM cars of the era. The center fourdoor sedan with a side tire mount looks to be 1935/36 Dodge, by the hood ornament. Good memories.

  2. The hardest cars for me to identify are the three oldest in the foreground on Main Street. my best guesses: a little Ford coupe, a relatively modest Plymouth sedan ahead of it, and a more impessive Buick going in the opposite direction. Look how stubby the Mopar parked diagonally in the parking lot appears next to the Mercury

  3. The dark car in front line behind the Polen in the first photo is a 1937 Plymouth Business Coupe, diagonally in front of it in the next file a 1947-48 Chevrolet Fleetline Aerosedan. In front of the Chevy two Buicks, 1949 Roadmaster Sedanet and a 1950 Special or Super Tourback.

  4. I have looked and looked, but I don’t see any catenary. There is a late model PCC car sticking out of a side street, and an old style trolley car way up the street. There is no sign they run on electricity. Are they self propelled? Gas engine running a generator for tractive power? Just wondering.

    • Good morning Hugh; I believe if you look at Grant street in the foreground, you can see the wire. The other two in the distance on sixth appear to be regular buses.

    • Hugh
      The wire is there, it is not a catenary just a single wire. If you look over the hood of the first old plymouth? you can see the connection to the cross wire. The trolly wire goes through the rear window of the car, Plymouth? with the side mount spare. You can clearly see the cross wire just behind the stake bed truck.

  5. That is a ’49 Buick Roadmaster. The 4 port holes on the fender is a tell-tale sign that it is a Roadmaster; all other model have 3. There are 2 other Buicks that have 3 port holes; though they are not Roadmasters I could not tell the years. The 49’s are my favorite. I had a ’48 Super fastback and they are big cars.

  6. Aside from the stake bed truck, the only other truck appears to be an Advance Design Chevy, maybe a flatbed just to the left of the Armour sign, and the only 2 ragtops under the Armour sign, and appear to be the same kind of cars parked near each other.

  7. The question of the streetcar makes me wonder if they operate with the same rules as cars or if there are different rules?

  8. That is an “A2” Checker cab and it looks very tired. When Finland held the Olympics in the middle ’40s, the government determined that surface transportation was lacking (to handle all of those guests and visitors} A call to Checker for help led to Chicago dumping all their worn-out Checkers, sending them to Finland. There are one or two individuals over there that own whats leftof these cars, and sell of parts.

  9. In the lot third row from the driveway three cars from the Armour sign I enjoy seeing the ‘49 or ‘50 Nash Airflyte 600.

  10. NO problem about those older Checkers going to Finland! Powered by Continental Red Seal Flatheads Sixes and an in- destructable Drive- Train, Many of them saw way over 1/4 million miles of city service! The oldest vehicle “appears to be”: A Pre -war AA or BB Ford 1-1/2 Ton Stake-bed Truck (or similar) As to the Streetcars: They are about 1937 Vintage , powered by overhead: 600 Volt D.C. Trolley Wires . Note : Also, are the very thick High Current Carrying 600 Volt D. C. Buss Cables , — typically 4/0 Gauge, running parallel to the tracks, (over the sidewalks ) on their own poles. Many “Rotary Converter Stations” ( A. C. to D.C.) are required in any city that maintains Electric Streetcars. Example: New Orleans. Edwin W.

  11. This is definitely Pittsburgh, but the intersection isn’t Grant and Sixth, it’s Sixth and Bigelow Boulevard, looking southeast. Grant is actually behind the photographer, and the two crossing streets with PCC and “Jones Car” streetcars are Wylie and then Fifth Avenue (Sixth Avenue turned sharply right at Grant Street in those days.

    You can also tell it’s not Grant Street, because Grant Street was paved with “Ligonier blocks” – a local form of Belgian block – and had dual streetcar tracks until the late 1980s. The building under construction is the Carlton House Hotel, which was demolished in the early 1980s for the construction of what’s now the BMY Mellon Center office tower.

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