Thursday, October 30, 2014

400 block of Merchant Street: vintage views

The 400 block of Merchant Street may be the most photographed block in Ambridge. Here are some vintage views showing the changes over the years.

I'm not sure of the year the photo on the postcard below was taken, but I think it's the oldest photo that I have of the 400 block of Merchant since it looks like it shows the trolley tracks being laid. They were completed in January, 1906. Although it's hard to tell in the photo, there are two sets of rails being laid.

The caption on the card says this is Merchant Street looking west, but most of us would say it was looking north, although both are sort of right; it's a northwest view; that part of Merchant Street does not run straight north and south.

I believe the three buildings with the awnings on the right may have been 454, 458 and 462 Merchant and have been razed. The building above those is the old Ambridge Savings and Trust building built in 1905 at the corner of Fifth and Merchant. It was later replaced by the large gray stone Economy Bank of Ambridge building, which was later occupied by Equibank, then used by a variety of short-lived tenants including The Bank Restaurant, then finally demolished to build a parking lot and drive-up windows for Economy Savings and Loan, now Wesbanco bank.

"View of Merchant Street, Looking West, Ambridge, Pa."
postcard showing building of trolley tracks,
400 block of Merchant Street, looking north
1905?

By the time of the suffragette march in May 1906, the trolley tracks had been completed, and the buildings with the awnings in the first photo now have neighbors: the Ambridge Laundry building to the left and and several brick buildings to the right.

Postcard
Temperance March, May 1906
400 block of Merchant Street, looking south

In the postcard below, the painted sign advertises Coca-Cola and Tingley's Pharmacy.

"Merchant St.--Ambridge, Pa."
postcard
1908
400 block of Merchant Street, looking north

In the next postcard, the building at the bottom of the left side is Tingley's Pharmacy. There appears to still be empty lots on both sides of the street. The building on the left side with lighter bricks on the upper stories has a sign for a "Hardware & Supply Co., but I can't read the first word. Can anyone make it out? There are still two sets of trolley rails.

"Merchant Street, Ambridge, Pa."
postcard
1909
400 block of Merchant Street looking north

I'm guessing the date of the next postcard is in the 1920s. I don't see any vacant lots on either side of the street. Already, parking looks tight on the increasingly busy street. Now, there's only one set of trolley tracks.

"Merchant Street, Looking West--Ambridge, Pa."
postcard
1920s?
400 block of Merchant Street, looking north

The photo below is not a postcard. It shows a bustling street with businesses many of us still remember. On the left. mid-block, you can see the sign for Ross Plumbing.

On the right, there's Economy Furniture, Iron City Beer, then a restaurant and bar whose name I can't make out (is it City Restaurant and Bar?). At the end of the block, you can see the Penn Theatre's marquee.

Merchant Street now has electric street lights.

400 block of Merchant Street, looking north
1939?

The photo below is still of the 400 block, but the photographer shot from further south.

On the left is Nicholas Grill, 401 Merchant (later the location of The Red Bull Inn); Kristufek Agency, 405 Merchant; Vince's Pizzeria, 427 Merchant; and Villella's Barber Shop, 443 Merchant. Although there's a large painted sign for the Ambridge Army-Navy Store, it had already moved to 517 Merchant Street.

On the right: New Rainbow Room Hotel and Bar, 412 Merchant; Modern Furniture, 432-434; and the Princess Shoppe, 454 Merchant.

The trolley tracks have been paved over.

400 block of Merchant Street, looking north
Bridger yearbook, 1965

Here are some recent photos of the same block for comparison. A number of the buildings appear to be vacant.

Villella's Barber Shop is still at 443 Merchant. Vocelli Pizza at 447 Merchant was once the Pfeifer funeral home.

400 block of Merchant, west (odd) side
March 30, 2014

400 block of Merchant Street, west (odd) side
June 23, 2013


400 block of Merchant Street, west (odd) side
March 30, 2014

459 Merchant Street
March 30, 2014

465 Merchant Street
March 30, 2014

400 block of Merchant Street, west (odd) side
June 23, 2013

418 Merchant Street
March 30, 2014

Tim Cassidy Remodeling
424 Merchant Street
March 30, 2014

430-434 Merchant Street
March 30, 2014

There is an empty lot between 434 and 448 Merchant where I think Economy Furniture's parking lot once was.

448 Merchant Street
March 30, 2014

The Chapel on Merchant Street
452 Merchant Street
March 30, 2014

PNC Bank
498 Merchant Street
March 30, 2014

2 comments:

  1. The empty lot next to 434 is where the laundry was. The first photo could be my building as it was the first built in that block according to Mrs Briola who's father built it as a grocery store. . It also underwent a major remodeling in 1926 that I have the drawings from.

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  2. jd aka john domansky

    is not the 498 address merchant st , where the penn theater sat for many years, next to it towards 3rd st was some kind of restaurant, i think there were animal heads on a few walls, the penn was across from the corner drug store that was also on 13th & merchant, same owners, a short jewish pharmacist abe & a big guy called dutch, drove a 1940s chrysler convert woodie & parked it in front of domansky tailor shop 293 14th st, along side of drug store. a maroon or red color, a really sharp car, classy. dutch was a big guy, smoked a big cigar, & took no sass from kids. there was a big cellar under the drug store that was a hangout for the guys, very dark & scary down there. the 14th st drugstore had phone booths in the side entrance, 2 or 3. if you stuck a big hankie up in the coin return slot, made a call, hung up, pulled out the hankie & your call money came back, sometimes you left hankie there & came back in 2 days, bonanza couple a bucks in nickels. also ice cream was stored in cases by booths, oh oh free ice cream. pharmacy was in back too so be careful you guys.

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