Downtown Flood Markers

Close-up of a marker for the St. Patrick's Day flood of 1936 on the former Joseph Horne department store, downtown Pittsburgh, PA

Waaaaaaay back (O.K., it was just at the beginning of the year) this only notional blog kicked itself off with a story on one set of cryptic runes reading H.W. 46 ft. 3-18-1936. That (Spoiler alert!) ended up being about the St. Patrick’s Day Flood of 1936 and a couple extant markers we had located in the industrial section of Manchester/Chateau on the North Side.

This blogger wondered aloud (in print) that there must be more where this came from, but that we weren’t actually aware of any. Informed readers responded (thanks Pauline!) to tip us off and we finally followed-up over Labor Day weekend with a cruise downtown to spot a couple more flood markers.

The first of these sits high on a wall (maybe twelve or so feet above street level) at the corner of Penn Ave. and Stanwix Street, on the old Horne’s department store. [The current tenant is the appropriately-named Highmark Insurance company.] It’s a simple brass marker, and like the others, it’s got the date of the flood (actually the day after St. Patrick’s Day, when the water crested) and height (46 ft.).

Marker for the St. Patrick's Day flood of 1936 on the former Joseph Horne department store, downtown Pittsburgh, PA

In context: flood marker on the former Horne’s, Penn & Stanwix, Downtown

We let our fingers do the walking and came up with a tip for one more downtown marker. This one on the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette building on The Boulevard of the Allies. Then, of course, we let our legs do the bicycling, our pours do the sweating (it was really hot that day!), and our fingers do the shutter-clicking to snap this pic.

I realized that I’d never actually walked right up to the Post-Gazette building before, although I’d ridden/driven by plenty of times. I was first impressed by their nice row of thriving potted plants, but then even more so by the big windows that let you look right into the giant rows of printing equipment that fill the first floor. Those huge, old machines are now idle as the paper has recently moved all its printing operations to a brand new facility somewhere outside of town. Sigh. I cursed myself for never stopping to see them all spinning and cranking when they were still in use. That must have been quite a sight. Just like the flood.

Marker for the St. Patrick's Day flood of 1936 on the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette building, Downtown Pittsburgh, PA

Flood marker on the Post-Gazette building, Boulevard of the Allies, Downtown

Any more flood marker tips for The Orbit? Please let us know.

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