Thornton Oakley’s Pittsburgh

Summer 2014 – March 22, 2015

It is man, the workman, the tiny human being upon the street, who has conceived and wrought the giant frames of steel, the furnaces, the towering buildings. It is through his eyes that I have seen Pittsburgh.

– Thornton Oakley

Born in Pittsburgh in 1881, Oakley moved to Philadelphia after the death of his father. But he returned to the place of his birth occasionally, drawn by the city’s vistas – hills and rivers, massive buildings, and fiery furnaces. Oakley’s drawings capture the city as it looked in 1913, including a river boat along the old Mon Wharf and cityscapes of the emerging Golden Triangle amidst the fog of the Smoky City. The drawings, now featured on the History Center’s fourth floor as part of a special display, allow you to see Pittsburgh as it looked a century ago before it became a major industrial hub.

"Jones and Lauglin Mills, Soho.," by Thornton Oakley
"Jones and Lauglin Mills, Soho.," by Thornton Oakley, drawing charcoal and gouache on board, 1913. Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh; Foster Charitable Trust Fund.