Pittsburgh Art Places


Retaining wall along Route 28 below Troy Hill

Related Links


Route 28, sandblasting, photography, Northside, PennDOT, transportation, highway, historic

Artwork Type

Integrated, Other 3D Work, Permanent, Mural

Behind Every Wall


Laurie Lundquist


Owner PennDOT
ADA Services The work can be seen from the Route 28 highway, by car, or by walking along the pedestrian and bike path along the road.

Artist Laurie Lundquist was commissioned by PennDOT in 2013 for an artwork to be part of the newly constructed retaining wall lining Route 28. The wall, of almost 1,000 feet, features six panels that include historic imagery from Northside neighborhoods along the highway.

Lundquist describes the project as such:

"State Route 28 is a well-traveled thoroughfare that follows the Allegheny River into the City of Pittsburgh. The last stretch of the corridor flanks Troy Hill and traverses an area so saturated in history that I was compelled to find a way to incorporate images from the past into the new roadway construction. The large scale historic images that you will see sandblasted into the 13’ tall retaining wall are all quite specific to this area.

In the process of researching Troy Hill and East Ohio Street I was surprised to find out that 175 years ago this roadway was a state of the art canal with horses and mules pulling flat-bottomed pack boats up and down the rock lined waterway. The canals only lasted twenty five years before they were filled in to make way rail roads when trains took over as the most efficient way to transport goods. By the turn of the century this railroad corridor was bustling with all types of commerce from breweries to book stores to meatpacking plants. From the Croatian Church and the canal boat to Carlin’s Machine, Reverend Pettus and the Troy Hill Street car all of these historic icons are rooted on this site.

I started working with Penn DOT, the Office of Public Art, and the design team at Michael Baker Jr. to integrate art into the project in April 2013.  The engineers, landscape architects and cultural resource team at Michael Baker were wonderfully helpful in locating a range of historic images of our site, and managing the technical side of the project. Elitza Mladenova and Marie Jones also collaborated on the imagery and graphics. We wanted the artwork to blend with the city walls in this area and throughout Pittsburgh; to suggest that there are memorable stories Behind Every Wall in this historic city."  


The images to be incorporated into the wall and the history about them are as follows:

1.St. Nicholas Roman Catholic Church, North Side, Croatian National Parish, 1326 E. Ohio Street

In use 1901-2004; razed 2013

Allegheny City’s East Ohio Street corridor was one of the earliest Croatian enclaves in the country.  Established in 1894, St. Nicholas Roman Catholic Parish was the first Croatian national parish in the United States; the East Ohio Street church building, dates to 1901 and was designed by prominent local architect Frederick Sauer.  The windows and bells were purchased with donations from Croatian societies and lodges throughout the United States and Canada.  At the time of the construction of the East Ohio Street edifice, St. Nicholas Parish split between the North Side (Allegheny) and Millvale locations, and the newly-formed St. Nicholas, Millvale Parish contemporaneously erected a new house of worship in Millvale.  The North Side and Millvale parishes were merged in 1994, though the East Ohio Street building continued to be used for worship until 2004.  After closure in 2004, the East Ohio Street building remained vacant until it was razed in January 2013.

2.Josip Marohnić Bookstore, 1420 E. Ohio Street   

Operated circa 1898-1914

The Marohnić Bookstore image is being appropriately placed adjacent to the church image, as Josip Marohnić was a leader in the Pittsburgh Croatian community and instrumental in the formation of the St. Nicholas Parish.  By 1898, Lorenz Roessler, a German carpet weaver, was renting both commercial and dwelling space at 1420 East Ohio Street to Marohnić, a Croatian printer and bookseller.  Marohnić (1866-1921) immigrated from Hreljin, Croatia to Chicago in 1893 and subsequently settled in Allegheny City in 1897.  In the 1890s and early 1900s, the part of East Ohio Street near the subject property transitioned from a predominantly German to a predominantly Croatian neighborhood.  It is believed that Marohnić’s bookstore may have been the first Croatian bookstore in the United States.  Marohnić imported and published Croatian books, a humor magazine, an English-Croat dictionary, and a weekly newspaper, Hrvatski Glasnik, and collections of his own poems -- 1420 East Ohio Street is the earliest documented location of Marohnić’s bookstore and one that the local community most associates with Marohnić’s business.  Marohnić facilitated bringing a Croatian-speaking priest to St. Nicholas Parish and also solicited national Croatian organizations for donations to purchase stained glass windows and bells for the 1901 church building constructed by the parish on East Ohio Street.

3.Thomas Carlin’s Sons Foundry,  1600-1646 River Avenue

Operated 1892-1916

The Thomas Carlin’s Sons Foundry began operation in the 4th Ward of Allegheny City (near Sandusky and General Robinson streets) around 1860 under Thomas A. Carlin, Sr.  After Carlin’s death in 1884, the foundry was operated by his three sons, and the business was reorganized as Thomas Carlin’s Sons Foundry.  The foundry’s production grew steadily in decades following the Civil War, and by 1892 a second and larger foundry building was constructed on River Avenue.  The firm was well known, both nationally and internationally, for its production of engines, boilers, industrial shears, and grinding equipment.  Locally, the foundry produced a great number of cast iron street furnishings, such as sewer inlets, manhole covers, curb and building protectors, fire hydrants, and street lights.  The foundry ceased production in 1916, but a number of its sewer inlets and manhole covers survive on Pittsburgh-area streets.

4.Silhouette of Troy Hill with Canal Boat in Tow

Pennsylvania Canal Operated 1829-1864

The Pennsylvania Canal was part of the “Main Line of Public Works” constructed by the State of Pennsylvania in the late 1820s to provide a coordinated system of transport between Philadelphia and Pittsburgh.  The system utilized a railroad between Philadelphia and Columbia (on the Susquehanna River) and a network of canals and inclined planes between the Susquehanna River and Pittsburgh.  The Main Line of Public Works reduced the travel time between Philadelphia  and Pittsburgh from 23 days to 4 days, and it was heavily used for both freight and passenger transport.  In 1857, the Main Line of Public Works was purchased by the Pennsylvania Railroad for $7,500,000.  The section of canal near Pittsburgh operated until 1864.  The Pennsylvania railroad then filled the canal and constructed a subsidiary line, the Western Pennsylvania Railroad, along the former canal alignment linking Allegheny City (Pittsburgh’s North Side) with Butler and Blairsville. 

5.Allegheny Institute and Mission Church, "Avery College,” built 1849; razed 1969, Nash and Avery Streets, Rev. Elijah Pettus (1905-1987) in foreground

The Allegheny Institute and Mission Church was constructed in 1849 by wealthy Methodist lay preacher and abolitionist, Charles Avery (1784-1858).  Avery intended the institute, known colloquially as Avery College, to provide a classical education for African Americans of both sexes.  The three story building contained a sanctuary and classrooms on separate floors, and its basement is said to be a stop on the Underground Railroad.  The college ceased operations in 1873, but the building continued to be used as a house of worship by African Americans until it was demolished in 1969, in anticipation of the construction of I-279.  The congregation of the Avery Memorial AME Zion Church relocated to the Brighton Heights section of Pittsburgh’s North Side, where it remains active to the present day.

6.Pittsburgh, Allegheny, and Manchester Traction Co., Streetcar at 916 East Ohio Street

Circa 1889-1891

The Pittsburgh, Allegheny, and Manchester Traction Company, ran streetcars along East Ohio Street in the late nineteenth century.  The PA&M Traction Company was later consolidated with the Pittsburgh Railways Company.  The streetcar line was the principal means of transportation along the East Ohio Street corridor from the 1890s until the 1920s, when it began to be superseded by the automobile.  In response to increasing automobile traffic, the City of Pittsburgh widened East Ohio Street from two to four lanes in 1921;  thus, the Ascension of St. Nicholas Church, N.S.  The Church was moved 10 feet away from the original foundation and eight feet up.

Laurie Lundquist is an environmental artist with deep interests in both the natural and engineered systems at work in the landscape. She has more than 20 years of experience working in the public realm, and has desgined award winning bridges, streetscapes, and transit stations.  Lundquist received a certificate in Landscape Management from Penn State University, a BFA from the Maine College of Art and an MFA in Sculpture from ASU in 1990. She attended Skowhegan School on the Langlais award in 1985, won the Nathan Cummings travel award from ASU, taught at Kansas City Art Institute as a fellow in the sculpture department.