Posts Tagged ‘Automobile Row’

Autocar comes to the Lincoln Hwy in Pittsburgh

August 15, 2018

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The old Guffey residence, looking stately in this 1920 photo, would make way a few years later for a new Autocar branch. This corner of Baum Boulevard, at Liberty Avenue, was in the middle of the city’s burgeoning Automobile Row. [University of Pittsburgh, Archives Service Center, Pittsburgh City Photographer Collection, 715.2032.CP.]

The Lincoln Highway entered Pittsburgh from the east via Baum Boulevard, the city’s Automobile Row. This neighborhood of large estates near Bloomfield and East Liberty spawned businesses to serve the horse-and-carriage trade between the city and the even-more-upscale suburb to the east. By the early 1900s, these businesses developed into auto repair shops and dealerships. In the above photo, you can see that the Autocar Company was about to demolish one more of the area’s stately homes for its local branch.

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1923 map showing that Autocar owned land at Baum and Liberty but had yet to build its dealership. [Historic Pittsburgh Maps.]

Autocar, at first a maker of autos, was founded in Pittsburgh in 1897 as the Pittsburgh Motor Vehicle Company. It got its new (and still current!) name in 1899 when it moved to Ardmore, Pa, on the Main Line west of Philadelphia, later to be along the Lincoln Highway. One of its offerings was the Pittsburgher car, but in 1912 the company switched to making only heavy-duty trucks.

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Ads for Pittsburgh’s new Autocar Factory Branch ran in all local papers on January 18, 1925.

Pittsburgh had its own Autocar factory branch near downtown. It would take till 1925 for the new dealership to be built; till then, Autocar Sales & Service filled the 1800 block of Forbes, a few blocks past Mercy Hospital. The new sales and service branch, seen below in 1932, filled an entire triangular corner at Baum Blvd. and Liberty Avenue.

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The same intersection in 1932 with the new Autocar dealership filling a corner of Baum Boulevard and Liberty Avenue. This view, looking northwest, also shows the Garden Tea Room. [University of Pittsburgh, Archives Service Center, Pittsburgh City Photographer Collection, 715.3217002.CP.]

Autocar was later absorbed by the White Motor Company, which was later taken over by Volvo Trucks, then acquired by GVW Group, which revived Autocar as an independent company. Autocar, now based in Indiana, continues to produce three models of custom-engineered trucks and holds the distinction of being the oldest surviving vehicle manufacturer in the Western Hemisphere.

Last of Cedar Rapids "auto row" to be razed

October 27, 2010


Eastern Iowa Life reports that the last intact block of “automobile row” in Cedar Rapids will be razed as early as Monday:

Lagniappe Investments plans to raze 706 and 712 Second Ave. SE, buildings that in recent years served as the Home Appliance Center and a hall for the Emerald Knights Drum & Bugle Corps…. Tom Slattery, authorized representative for Lagniappe, would not say why the site is being cleared.

Mark Stoffer Hunter, an expert in Cedar Rapids history, said architecturally, the buildings are not significant, but the block is important to Cedar Rapids history. “It’s the one block of downtown Cedar Rapids that hasn’t changed in 50 years,” he said…. As the Lincoln Highway was routed onto Second Avenue around 1920, businesses replaced homes along the route.

In the above photo, supplied to the paper by historian Mark Stoffer Hunter, Barron Motor Supply is shown at 706 Second Ave. SE in this 1935 photo. The store was one of several that lined Cedar Rapids’ “automobile row” along the Lincoln Highway.

Pgh Automobile Row dealership to be demolished

January 15, 2008

Don Allen Auto City, a well-known car dealership on Pittsburgh’s East End, is set to be replaced by a $230 million development. The c. 1920 showoom and related areas cover seven acres where Baum Boulevard intersects Liberty Avenue, and at the confluence of three communities: Shadyside, Bloomfield and East Liberty. All buildings will be demolished and over the next four years, the site will fill with townhouses, condominiums, a 9-story hotel, 1,200 parking spaces, and 700,000 square feet of office and related space. A triangular park bordered by Liberty, Baum and South Aiken Avenue will also be built. Numerous publications and sites are covering the story including Hotels, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, and Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.


Don Allen opened 52 years ago and has been owned by the Voelker family for 50 years. The building long had a 1960s metallic facade, but it was removed in recent years, exposing the brick underneath. A mural from that period remains in the parts department, its fate unknown. The business stretches a few blocks along Baum Boulevard, once the city’s Automobile Row. It was a main road into Pittsburgh’s wealthy eastern suburbs, and so became a leading retail, repair, and manufacturing center for bicycles, and then for cars by the 1910s. Scattered remnants survive, including a former Ford assembly plant a couple block west, a 1933 Modernist Chrysler showroom designed by Albert Kahn a few blocks east, and a showroom turned drug store across from that. A few blocks farther eastward is a marker for the first drive-in filling station, which is more correctly the first architect designed drive-in station, built by Gulf in 1913

This video report below includes a woman who says “they need something that’s more affordable…. It’s just outrageous trying to find a place that people can afford.” Another questions whether more housing and hotels are needed. Click on the image to open the video’s web page:


Inventory liquidation is ongoing, and site preparation should start this summer, pending city approval and funding; according to the Post-Gazette, “The project partners acknowledge that they hope to secure public financing to assist with the project, although they were not willing today to specify what type or how much.”