Construction of the Civic Arena

If you’ve been downtown lately, you may have noticed that the demolition of the Civic Arena has begun. If the demand for ornaments fashioned from the Civic Arena’s roof is any indication, there are many who feel an emotional attachment to the iconic structure and will be sorry to see it go.  Those interested in seeing the beginnings of the Civic Arena can head over to Historic Pittsburgh, where the Heinz History Center’s William V. Winans, Jr. Photograph Collection has recently been posted online.

Bulldozer working on the construction site of the Civic Arena

Winans was an assistant superintendent for the Dick Company, a firm that was involved in the construction of the arena.  The images document the construction process, from groundbreaking in March 1958 until May 1961, just a few months before the grand opening.

Inspecting the base of the arena's dome

Primarily home to the Pittsburgh Penguins, the arena also served as the venue for events as disparate as Civic Light Opera productions, Harlem Globetrotters games, monster truck races, boxing matches, political rallies, roller derbies, dog shows, and rock concerts.  The construction of the Civic Arena also drastically altered life in the Hill District by displacing 8,000 residents and disrupting the street grid connecting the neighborhood to Downtown.

View the William V. Winans, Jr. Collection images and finding aid.

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About Matthew Strauss

Chief Archivist at the Senator John Heinz History Center in Pittsburgh, Pa.
This entry was posted in Sports, Urban Redevelopment and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

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