Daniel Burnham’s reputation was on the rise in the wake of the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition. Pittsburgh’s rail depot had burned down in 1877, a casualty of worker protests over layoffs in the city’s rail industry. Burnham and his beaux-arts style were an appealing choice when the Pennsylvania Railroad decided in the late 1890s to construct a permanent replacement. Burnham’s idea, strongly present in the Plan of Chicago a few years later, of curating the visible cityscape found expression in his design for the station’s rotunda in front of the main structure. Just as his design for multi-level streets sought to conceal the unglamorous activities of freight and industry from the public eye, this design hid carriages and streetcars under covered structures, allowing pedestrians and automobiles to approach the station via a wide promenade and drive. The street level itself concealed a lower baggage level and loading dock. Using similar principles, Burnham also went on to construct the Union Station in Washington, D.C., in 1908. He made drastic changes to the transport layout of the city by moving the track off the National Mall and situating the new station at the center of important sight lines in accordance with the tenets of City Beautiful planning.
Halberstadt, Hans, and April Halberstadt. Great American Train Stations: Classic Terminals and Depots. New York: Barnes & Noble Books, 1997.
Great American Stations. “Pittsburgh, PA (PGH).” http://www.greatamericanstations.com/Stations/PGH
Great American Stations. “Washington - Union Station, DC (WAS).” http://www.greatamericanstations.com/Stations/WAS
“Union Station, P.R.R., Pittsburgh, Pa.” Postcard. The Newberry Library