JUMP TO PAGE   100  >  200  >  300  >  400  >  500  >  600

An Uphill Climb: 1941

An Uphill Climb: 1941

January 1941. "Street in the mill district in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania." Medium format acetate negative by Jack Delano for the Farm Security Administration. View full size.


On Shorpy:
Today’s Top 5


In my copy of Dickens's "American Notes" the section on Pittsburgh is titled "Hell with the Lid off." I suppose an editor must have liked Mr. Parton's phrase enough to borrow it. This would account for a false attribution. I'll need to consult my edition but IIRC, the editor also added the "h" to Pittsburgh.

"Hell with the lid off"

That quote is often attributed to Charles Dickens (he visited Pittsburg, no "h" yet, in 1842), but it actually came from Boston area biographer James Parton in 1868.

"Hell with the Lid Off" is also the title of a book about the intense rivalry between the Steelers and the Oakland Raiders in the 1970s.

Old places

It is interesting that in photos like these and in so many others from even earlier times, things look old and worn - the buildings, the walls. It's almost like they were built old, that they were never new or nice.

Important safety tip.

Do NOT miss that sharp, sudden right hand turn at the bottom. Today, we would spin that as an "infinity street".

About a century before this picture

Charles Dickens recorded his impression of Pittsburgh in his "American Notes" as "Hell with the lid off".

In an industrial city, smoke was a sign of prosperity and therefore good; but even in olden times, smoke could be too much of a good thing.


I don't see a handrail. Wood wouldn't last three winters and a metal one would be rendered useless in the freezing cold. Tough place to eke out life.

[Au contraire. - Dave]

Forget Buying that Workout Machine!

Could you imagine walking up that hill every day? I'll bet she's got calves you could bust concrete on! And she probably has asthma to boot, because of all that smog!

A Bit of Class

In what looks like an otherwise dreary, polluted, hardscrable existence.
Kudos to the hard-working people who lived and toiled in Company and Factory Towns.

Syndicate content is a vintage photography site featuring thousands of high-definition images from the 1850s to 1950s. The site is named after Shorpy Higginbotham, a teenage coal miner who lived 100 years ago. Contact us | Privacy policy | Site © 2023 Shorpy Inc.