Walk by the old Post-Gazette building, on the very last block before Boulevard of the Allies terminates at Point State Park, and you’ll likely be the only one on the sidewalk. It’s a surprisingly desolate section of our otherwise healthy and lively downtown. Boxed-in by highways and a complete lack of any retail nearby, this hulking, ugly building sits alone and empty at one corner of downtown.
At street level, there are giant windows that used to look straight into the busy printing floor of the newspaper. Here, for more than 50 years at this location, you could stand on the sidewalk, peer straight in, and watch the incredible synchronicity of massive printing presses spinning at full speed, cranking out the daily news. It was quite an operation.You can still peer through those big windows, but you won’t see any equipment filling the space today. That’s all been removed–sold off, presumably–with the Post-Gazette‘s upgrade to a brand new suburban printing facility a few years back. The subsequent relocation of the news office to the near North Side followed. On the bright side, the P-G‘s current crew of journalists, editors, and the like need only head downstairs for a fill-up on No Joke Mac ‘N Cheese or a flight of shooters at Tequila Cowboy.
If you’re on Boulevard, grab a gander while you still can. What’s left is a fascinating view into a work space once pumping with activity. Floor mounts for all the heavy machinery are still intact; blank walls are scarred with the gouges and pockmarks of a half-century’s hard physical abuse. One visible section of below-street-level wall still contains taped-up news clippings, notes, employee graffiti, and torn photos of women in bikinis. All surfaces appear blackened with a spray of printing ink that one imagines hung in the air like thick fog.
For now (at least), the Post-Gazette is still very much alive–although it continues to try to figure out how many days a week it can actually afford to print and deliver a paper.
The same cannot be said for many of the region’s old news sources. Head out of town in any direction and each Main Street will almost invariably offer up the spent carcass of a former local newspaper.With banks being the notable exception, newspaper offices erected a century-or-so ago seem uniquely confident in their place in society among private businesses. A huge number of papers have the original masthead built right into the brick and granite framework of their headquarters buildings.
You can’t always tell from these photos, but trust that it was the engraved crowns on the Jeannette Dispatch (above) and Leader-Times (below) that gave them away; no pre-research was necessary to find them–we just looked up and read the rooflines.
For this piece, we decided to only include photos of newspaper buildings where the passer-by can still read the original mission of its previous host. If we were to do all the forensics on every old paper in the region … well, we’d never get back to weird pizza and sad toys.
That said, the great all-things-Beaver County blog Ambridge Memories has a terrific post on the various former locations of the Daily Citizen. They’ve done an amazing job of tracking and showing then-and-now pictures of the five different Ambridge buildings the Citizen occupied during its 55-year run (1904-1959). None of the current photos give any hint to their past life in media.
The latest casualty! Yes, even The Green Sheet (aka “Ye Olde Green Sheet”) has fallen victim to cheap/free Internet classifieds announcing their closure over the summer. No longer will you see the once-ubiquitous piles of pale green newsprint stacked by the door at Shur-Save, Kuhn’s, and Shop’n’Save. If you want to swap cemetery plots or trade for guns, that business will have to be conducted elsewhere.
Rest assured, the Butler Eagle is still publishing–but they’ve moved their news office to a more modern, large scale printing operation on the edge of town. That consolidation has vacated the c. 1924 art deco-lite building, just off Main Street, where you’ll now find the unique property listed for sale. For our purposes, we think that counts too.
 As the name implies, the Post-Gazette was created by a merger of two much older newspapers, The Pittsburgh Gazette (first published 1786) and The Pittsburgh Post (neé Daily Morning Post) (first published 1842). The papers were merged in 1927 and moved into the building on Boulevard of the Allies in 1962.
 The Dispatch merged with another local paper in 1918, forming The Jeannette News-Dispatch, which continued publishing through 1981. Sometime in there, the office moved around the corner to Fourth St. We didn’t get a picture so we’re not sure if there is still a visible marker of it’s life as a news office.
 It is extremely common to see government buildings, schools, libraries, etc. with this kind of confidence in its future, but much less so with businesses.
 The Valley Independent has stopped printing, but lives on in the Mon Valley Independent.
7 thoughts on “Failing Media! SAD! The Fourth Estate, Six Feet Under”
Great post, Wills. This is such a sad state of affairs, and I for one can’t wait for another weird pizza or sad toy post!
So interesting–and sad. Ironic to be reading about it all via a digital platform.
I remember an old (’30’s) movie house film feature (I believe a monthly) the title of which was “TIME, MARCHES ON!” A rather appropriate title for this sad item…(There once was a thriving business over a century ago—the buggy whip manufacturing industry..).
Great research. The Mon Valley Independent still is published as a paper.
I worked at the Beaver Falls News Tribune when it closed in April 1979.
Also., the Waynesburg Democrat Messenger was bought by the Observer Reporter in the mid 1980s.
Heartbreaking in a way but cool to see these buildings.
Yes, yet another area where I wish time, selected parts of it anyway, could march backward, to things like street cars, and pre-WWII architecture (sans rapacious developers and complicit politicians), and police on horseback. My favorite is your photo of the Leader-Times—finely evocative with the looming thunderstorm.
Thanks again and here’s hoping you make money on this. If not (and I guess even if so), thanks for sharing your quirky and enlightening hobby.
Glad you like the collection. And no–there’s even less money in blogging than there is in, you know, real journalism–but it’s definitely an enlightening hobby. Thanks for reading!