Updates: Buhl Planetarium and Carnegie Library – 2004 December
Buhl Planetarium: Last month the expanded Children’s
reported in last year’s Update, the historic Zeiss II Planetarium Projector,
10-inch Siderostat-type Refractor Telescope, and large Mercator’s Projection
Map of the World continue to be dismantled and in storage in The Carnegie
Science Center warehouse. Although there was some run-off flooding along this
warehouse’s north wall, from the remnants of Hurricane Ivan on September 18
(Ohio River flooding did not reach the warehouse this time, as it did in 1972
June, after passage of the remnants of Hurricane Agnes), at the request of Friends of the Zeiss, City Councilman
Bill Peduto was able to confirm that there had been no damage to these three
historic artifacts. Although information from the City or the
proposed $90 million
In the Planetarium Theater, the 65-foot diameter inner-dome and the historic Westinghouse Worm-Gear Elevator (Buhl was the world’s first planetarium to be placed on an elevator!) are all that remain (elevator kept in Zeiss Pit below Theater). Wires from new exhibits do now connect directly to the dome; however the dome seems undamaged. A large window, overlooking Buhl’s staff parking lot (now also used by the public), has replaced the world’s first permanent theatrical stage in a planetarium (as shown on the cover of the Christmas card). Although the loss of the rest of the planetarium infrastructure is deplorable, retention of the dome and elevator means it would be quite possible to return the Zeiss II to the Theater of the Stars, sometime in the future, without a huge expense.
the Children’s Museum now plans to convert the original Buhl Astronomical
Observatory into a Board Room for the Museum’s Board of Directors, using part
of a new $1 million grant from the
KQV-AM 1410 news report, it seems that the large “The Rise of Steel Technology”
mural (commissioned by the U.S. Steel Corp. and painted by local artist Nat
Youngblood) is now in the possession of the Steel Industry Heritage Corp. in
June 8, Friends of the Zeiss and The Duquesne Incline co-sponsored a
telescope observing session so the public could see the historic Transit of the
Planet Venus across the image of the Sun—the first time this has occurred since
1882! Located on the observation deck of The
Duquesne Incline, it was the only such public observing session in
An alumnus of The Buhl Planetarium and
his visits to the original Buhl Planetarium inspired him to become an astronaut.
gaw ( Update: Carnegie Library on page two )
Updates: Carnegie Library and Buhl Planetarium – 2004 December
Library: The historic 103-year-old Hazelwood Branch
building, of The Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, closed its doors as a public
library building on
at This occurred despite a 2003 September 9 public meeting and 2003 November 5 public hearing before Pittsburgh City Council which made it quite clear that moving the Library
out of the historic building was opposed by the majority of Hazelwood residents. A few weeks later, the library branch reopened three blocks away in a second-floor rental unit (above
a laundromat and a deli which sells beer) on
for reuse of this building, which the Young Preservationists Association of Pittsburgh designated number four in their annual “Top Ten Best Preservation Opportunities for 2004” on
In the early Spring of 2004, there were rumors that the Lawrenceville Branch Library would be the next historic building to be abandoned by Carnegie Library. The Lawrenceville Branch
was the very first neighborhood branch library built by Andrew Carnegie in the nation and is considered the prototype of all other neighborhood branch Carnegie libraries throughout
the world! The Library staff told Glenn A. Walsh that a public meeting, to announce a move of the library branch, would occur in the late Spring or Summer. Mr. Walsh, then, publicized
these plans in statements before Pittsburgh City Council and the Board of Directors of the Allegheny Regional Asset District. No public meeting occurred in 2004, but rumors indicate a
public meeting may occur in early 2005, perhaps as early as January. A grass-roots neighborhood group, the Lawrenceville Library Association, has been formed to support a thriving
library in the
After a public process lasting more than six months, on July 13 Pittsburgh City Council unanimously voted to designate five original Carnegie Library branch buildings as City Designated
Historic Structures: Hazelwood (opened 1900 August
Community Development Corporation, was particularly active in pushing for historic designation of the Mt. Washington Branch and strongly opposes any move of this Library
to an alternate site, as proposed by Carnegie Library.
Along with three library buildings which already received historic designation (Allegheny Regional Branch, South Side Branch, and Main Branch), all Andrew Carnegie-built library
buildings in the City, which have served as libraries this year, are now protected by the Historic Review Commission of Pittsburgh (the original East Liberty Branch was razed in the
1960s, and the original Wylie Avenue Branch was sold in the 1980s and is now used as a mosque). However, such protection only extends to the exterior of the building (demolition,
or exterior changes, cannot occur without approval of the Historic Review Commission); no present law exists to protect the historic interior, equipment, or furnishings, or that would
require the buildings to remain as libraries.
Although rehabbed prior to the Library’s 1995 centennial celebration, the Carnegie Library Main Branch went through another $4 million rehab in September, including expansion into
a courtyard. Carnegie Library also closed the
library will open early next year.
announced his impending retirement, shortly after the Main Branch completely reopened; Carnegie Library President Ellsworth Brown resigned in the Spring. In May, Carnegie Library’s
Three Rivers Free-Net, which provided area non-profit organizations with free Internet web sites, was phased-out. To meet the need of these non-profits, long-time Carnegie Library
advocate David Tessitor started the new Pittsburgh Free.Net: < http://www.pghfree.net >.
This year, the Oakmont, Pa. Carnegie Library started their
own expansion project, and the Andrew Carnegie Free Library in
construction of a new elevator. Last year, the historic Carnegie Library building in Downtown Washington, D.C. became the home of the City Museum of Washington; next Spring,
this museum will close to the public, due to low attendance.
In October, Mr. Tessitor and Mr. Walsh, along with Mt.
Washington Library advocate Armand Panson, attended a meeting in
work on national and international Carnegie Library
preservation issues. This meeting was held in
conference of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.
Joanne Weeter of
around the nation attended. Now in the formative stages, this new network has established a web site: < http://www.carnegielibraries.net >.
gaw ( Update: Buhl Planetarium on page one )
Glenn A. Walsh Internet Web Sites - Friends of the Zeiss: < http://www.friendsofthezeiss.org >
Telephone: 412-561-7876 Preserving Carnegie Libraries: < http://www.carnegielibraries.net >