Architecture Around Us: The Merchants Savings & Trust Company: At the Intersection of Commerce and Jewish Identity in the Hill


Most Pittsburghers know that, before its destruction in the 1950s, the Lower Hill District bustled with community and commerce. African American migrants from the South, as well as Irish, Italian, Greek, Syrian, and Eastern European Jewish immigrants, established themselves as entrepreneurs with businesses along Wylie, Centre, Fifth, and Forbes Avenues. In 1902, the Pittsburgh Gazette reported there was more business transacted in the Hill District between downtown and Oakland than in all of East Liberty, yet the Hill was home to only one financial institution compared with four banks and four trust companies in East Liberty. The Merchants Savings & Trust Company was organized later that year to fulfill this need for financial services in the Hill. Its building still stands at 1410 Fifth Avenue, one of the few survivors to tell a piece of this story.

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