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March 22, 2004

Union Orthotics and Prosthetics

the mosaic
the building

Companies come and go, but buildings tend to stick around. On the section of Liberty Ave., between Bloomfield and the Strip District (two Pittsburgh neighborhoods, for those of you not from the area), there are two particularly random examples and one mural (actually, a mosaic).

On the front of Union Orthotics and Prosthetics' main office (almost directly across the street from the excellent Church Brew Works), there's a mosaic about electricity. It's got a kite and key, a couple pictures of electric plants (coal and hydro, I guess), a tower for high voltage lines, and, in the background, an outlet. Really, it's rather tastefully done for what it is. But then, why's it on the front of an orthotics and prosthetics company? Seems like maybe once upon a time, perhaps an electric utility owned the building. (I'm assuming it was a utility and not a contractor because only a public utility would spend its money on a mural instead of, say, paying the CEO or shareholders.)

A little further up the street, a building that is currently a Quizno's Sub was, as recently as September 2003, Hangar Prosthetic (apparently the 3500-4000 block of Liberty Ave. is prosthetic city). The usual queasiness in associating medical stuff and food kept me from trying that Quizno's for a while, but I finally managed to do it. Better than Subway, sure, but I prefer Uncle Sam's.

So what have we learned? The life cycle of buildings is apparently: electric utility, then prosthetics specialist, then sub shop. Only time will tell what a sub shop turns into.

The top picture is the mosaic, of course. And the bottom picture is the building itself. Click on either for larger versions.

Update: Searches on the Allegheny County Real Estate Property Values site reveal that Sargent Electric owns a lot of property in that neighborhood. I'm thinking Sargent's probably the company that built the building and put up the mosaic.

March 06, 2004

VFW Post 278

Continuing the patriotic murals theme from a few weeks ago, the Veterans of Foreign Wars building in Pittsburgh's Bloomfield neighborhood (on Liberty, opposite the Bloomfield Bridge) is painted with all manner of military scenes, from a sailor coming home to the flag raising at Iwo Jima.

One of the most arresting parts of the mural is the picture of the three soldiers staring into the distance.  It's probably based on the Three Soldiers Statue that stands near the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, but unlike the statue, the men in the mural appear much more haunted by the things they've seen.

Sorry there's so much extra stuff (cars, posts, poles) in the pictures.  This building borders a busy supermarket parking lot.  And as always, click on the pics for larger versions.

side front
sailor three men stealth tank