Postcard Clues 100 Years On - Clues to Olof !


We came into several old Pittsburgh postcards, and it's amazing how curious you can get about people in no way related to you. I've written before about Olof Harrison, a Swede who moved to the Pittsburgh area in the early 1900s.

One 1909 postcard caught my eye in particular. The address c/o Mrs. Hallock then names the apartment building and the street corners - St. Regis Apt cor Maryland and Howe - E.E. Pittsburg (no "h" in those in-between years), PA. Personally, knowing this area, I see that E.E. is for East End (in the Shadyside neighborhood), and I was on the hunt!

Aha - the building still stands!

And the plaque at the left actually says, St. Regis! How fun. Seeing the building with the name still on it instantly bridges the time between the postcard and today. It seems likely that this building is the same one from when my dear, but non-family Olof lived there.

So I did some more digging. I found the 1910 Pittsburgh Directory listed the St. Regis Apartments at 5806 Howe St, just one year after the postcard was written. I did look for Olof in the directories, but I didn't find him. Perhaps as someone just renting he didn't get included. I'm not sure.

Then I checked out the fire maps - one of my favorite tools. Again, I found the St. Regis. The owner is an unfamiliar name, but the map clearly lists St. Regis, and the outline of the building looks pretty similar to what I can see today.

Perhaps my next steps will be to go down to the Allegheny Courthouse to check out the deeds when I'm digging into some other family research.

In the meantime, it's pretty fascinating to make these connections, and I also love that this fun exercise got me looking more carefully at the building. Near the top interesting sculpted faces grace the building.

Here's the full postcard with translation - it's just a short note, apparently between two friends - amazing what you can still discover from the few words scribbled on the back!

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