Pittsburgh Civic Arena update

This is it. The Igloo will soon be entirely demolished. All of the movable roof panels have been pulled down. The east skyboxes, in place during my last visit one month ago, have been torn down. Most of the ring that supported the roof panels has been jack-hammered away. All that remains to be taken down are the two fixed roof panels and the support arm that held up the roof, and that all may come down in a few days.

I have been lax in posting photos from this project but now that it is near its end, I’ve got to decide how to present the better images of the thousands I have taken.

Here is a sample from March 2, 2012, from my last trip out to Pittsburgh.

The Igloo after the exterior stainless steel skin was cut off the roof.

One of the original gate pillars. In recent years the pillars were covered in bright yellow (plastic?) sheaths.

Food concessions along the east concourse looking towards the demolished seating area.

A view of the inner workings of the roof panels. For demolition prep, the panels were moved by hand and they glided around on the ring quite easily.

Demolishing the walkway surrounding the arena. That’s the office tower of Union Station in the background.

Support arms that held the upper deck (north end) (later addition) in place.

The D-Level seats on the east side.

Adjacent panels were moved away from this one in preparation for its pull-down.

I was able to set up a camera inside to record this pull down. Workers used blowtorches to cut part-way into the beams at the top of the panel. Cables were fastened to the beams and then pulled by one of the largest machines used in the demmolition, bringing down the roof panel.

Under the ring after the panel was pulled down.

A long view into the arena where a panel had just been pulled down.

This view of the debris is from near the north tunnel entrance into the arena floor, looking over what had been the outer walkway around the building. The new rink, the Consol Center, is barely visible at upper left.

East skyboxes and D-Level seats.

Looking up the ramp to the C-Level on the east side.

View of the downtown skyline. This was intended to be the backdrop when the roof was opened for performances and events.

I just came across this set of excellent construction photographs, 141 in all. So strange that I have essentially taken some of the same exact photographs 50 years later, but in reverse.

This entry was posted in Hockey / Sports Arenas, Pennsylvania, USA Travel. Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Pittsburgh Civic Arena update

  1. Very cool, but very sad series of photos. The Civic Arena was a special place, unique in its construction, it was far more than a hockey venue, I saw many great concerts and ice shows there as well as the circus, truck pulls, car shows, etc… I even saw Minnesota Fats shoot pool there! One memorable concert I was at was the Allman Brothers concert, when they opened the roof, it was impressive! Unfortunately the wind played havoc with some of the equipment on stage, so they had to close the roof, but it was an experience, the whole opening and closing of the roof only took a short time to do. I always suspected that the Penquins hockey club damaged the roof with their score board and additional seats and their insistence on the demolition of the Arena was a way to cover their tracks. People here in Pittsburgh, seemed to forget that the Penguins were only a tenant, not the owners of the Arena. This was a classic case of the tail wagging the dog and local politicians were complicit in the conspiracy. The city traded a historic landmark for a parking lot. I’m not going to compare this with the loss of Pennsylvania Station in New York City, but it’s close and every bit as sad.

    • HV-Rob says:

      Hi Don,

      thank you for your reply and for sharing your memories. I agree, I wish the building had been saved, but like all other buildings on my website, I was glad to at least take some photographs.

      AS for the roof, I don’t think it was ever damaged, but was rendered inoperable by the scoreboard. Once that was removed, the demo crew had no trouble opening it, even with the skyboxes still in place (they didn’t touch the roof at all).

      I think the arena could have continued is use as a multi-purpose space or exhibition hall, like the Park Avenue Armory in New York City. Even keeping the two fixed roof panels and the trusses would have been neat.


  2. adam says:

    curious how were you able to get inside to take all of the photos? I went down a few months back and sadly i was turned away :(

  3. Christine says:

    May I use your photos for a blog story on my “green” Pittsburgh site? I see your amazing photos as a way to recycle memories. :-) Thanks for taking those! I will sight you as the source.

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