Monday, March 16, 2015

700 block of Merchant Street mid-1940s

700 block Merchant Street, looking south
circa mid-1940s
National Electric "Nationalist" newsletter?

Original caption: "This is Merchant Street--the Fifth Avenue of Ambridge--along which are located many of the retail establishments."

You can enlarge the photo by clicking on it to see the details better.

Note the trolley tracks.

The above photo was published in what appears to be a newsletter, perhaps National Electric's "Nationalist." It came from the late Louis Vukovcan's collection with no accessible identifying information--other clippings are pasted on top of some areas and the back is glued down.

This is primarily the 700 block of Merchant Street looking south, but you can see some of the 600 block too.

On the left is the Ambridge Theatre, 714 Merchant Street, showing Torrid Zone (1940) and The Great Flamarion (1945) which helps to date the photo. The theater was razed in 1965 to make room for a new Pittsburgh National Bank. The current driveway on the north side of Huntington Bank is approximately where the Ambridge Theatre once stood.

At the corner of Seventh Street, there's a "Drugs" sign, but I am not sure what drug store occupied that building in the 1940s.

On the right, the first building is the State Theatre, 749 Merchant Street, razed in 1959 and replaced by a parking lot. At the time, it was hard to find a parking space on or near Merchant Street. It remains a parking lot.

Next to the State is a building with a "Peter Pan" sign. Does anyone know anything about that building? A Peter Pan Cleaners was once at 431 Merchant Street, but I don't know anything about a Peter Pan in the 700 block.

The next clearly visible sign is the huge vertical Sears sign at 653-655 Merchant Street. Sears closed that store in 1963 a week before it opened its new store in Northern Lights. The last time I was in Ambridge the building was empty.

I don't see any other signs I can identify. But I know one store was there: Romano's market at 703 Merchant Street, opened around 1942. Romano's, which carried a variety imported foods, primarily from Italy and Greece, didn't even need a sign. Shoppers could find it by the smells emanating from it: dried fish, garlic, sausages, cheese, and a host of other tasty, but smelly, foods.

If you know what other businesses were in the 700 block of Merchant Street in the mid-to-late 1940s, please leave a comment.


  1. The drug store on the corner, I recall 'Leos Drug" maybe it was another block.....

  2. Leo's Drugs was on that corner. I moved across the street when those buildings were torn now and the space is not occupied by Huntington Bank. Leo's was located where Heritage Floral is currently.

  3. in btween the prince & ambridge movie houses was a large grocery store, Crogers or ?? not sure, corner across from drug store was a photo studio, a bakery across from that, 2 great ethnic stores on 7th & 6th w/food stuff lined up outside, 1 more thing on 13th st long block was tates garage & cadillac dealer, tates had the home across from 293 14th st a great brick w/huge front wrap around porch & a stagecoach in in the gararge huge one next to where the ward family lived then moving to 14th & merchant over the pool hall, mom farrah always had a garden btween buildings onions & such, always a grape vine at entrance where dad had heart attack in 1948 coming home at night. a block away 15th lived the firichs across from womans hair salon. john domansky

  4. john domansky

    just opened my 1948 AHS yearbook, sophomore year, here are some store addresses, 702 merchant myron-ronaldo studio loius caplan 7th merch wholesaler 3 stories tall, grand restaurant 1231 merchant jim colella prop. ben maura studebaker dealer 817 merchant, wilkins jewerly 605 merchant, laris ford 1196 merchant, hicks flooring 909 merchant, where i once saw a fire w/fireman saving a one armed man on outside of 2nd floor. the 207 14 th st address people upstairs were the Kostas family not karras, sorry, gregory was youngest son. the green aliquippa bus to pittsburgh stopped at 11th st, went up to duss then down on 8th to merchant on to sewickley & pitts. (also glen osborne where mom worked for rich people) 25c to pittsburgh. ambridge beaver valley bus was 5c ride in ambridge, mailman rode free to his delivery spot. stop every block, went down to1st str & turned around back to rochester or beaver falls not sure, remember rochesters babe parillo & beaver falls joe the jets quarterback, won & beat colts for 1st super bowl, i picked joe to win, huge odds, made a few bucks. more to come elsewhere, anyone have any QQQs???

  5. walter panek brings back some eerie memories, was he not the person of interest in the case of a 16 yr old girl, late 1940s, remember him as a one armed man, or am i wrong ??

  6. The drugstore on the corner of 7th and Merchant was Schiff's. Their son's name was Marvin. We were friends.