On the corner of Smithfield and Fifth Ave., resides a 15-story building that houses McDonald’s Verizon and T-Mobile. The building stretches 200 feet into the sky and is capped off with depictions of Atlas holding the world on his shoulders. This is the historic Park Building.
For the last 25 years E.V. Bishoff Company has owned and operated the historic parcel and now has begun a major renovation. The plans will help maintain and modernize one of Pittsburgh’s earliest skyscrapers for generations to come. E.V. Bishoff Company’s plan includes upgrades such as LED lights, glass enclosed private offices, glass-enclosed conference rooms and the restoration of the original hardwood floors. The completion of the project will be late 2019 into early 2020.
A Location With History
The Park building was finished in 1896 and owned by David Park. Park, a former steel tycoon of the late-19th century oversaw construction of the building. When the building was completed it rose one story larger than the Carnegie Building which was home to Andrew Carnegie’s Carnegie Steel Co., (the Carnegie building was torn down in 1952 and replaced by the Kaufman Building).
David Post designed the architecture of the 200-foot building. Centering the skyscraper on the corner of Fifth and Smithfield St. Post, gained notoriety as the famous architect of Manufactures and Liberal Arts Building at the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair.
Construction of the building was daunting and cost the lives of several people due to the lack of safety measure in place. According to some locals you can hear the footsteps of the ghosts who perished during construction.
Upon completion the Park Building served as the first multi-use building in downtown Pittsburgh. While multi-use or mixed use is a common term on most new high rises the term was revolutionary in the 1890’s. When it opened, the Park Building hosted office space for the Park family company, Black Diamond Steel Work.
One the most iconic pieces of Architecture gracing the outside of the Park Building are the “Atlas Statues” that line the very top of the building. These detailed statues depict the mythological deity Atlas who is holding the world on his shoulders.
Black Diamond Steel Works was a crucible steel company that used large steam hammers often weighing 10-tons or more to create many household items including silverware and piano wire. In addition, Danzinger’s Millinery, who made custom designed milliner hats, became the first department store located in what is now the McDonald’s space.
Black Diamond Steel Works, continued operating inside the Park Building until 1958. Then after 36 years of multiple owners and management company E.V. Bishoff and son David purchased the building in 1994.
Preserving For Future Generations
As the Bishoff family celebrates 25 years of ownership of this iconic building, the goal of the renovation is to secure the Park Building as the cornerstone of Fifth and Smithfield. This will ensure other generations can view and appreciate David Park’s masterpiece.