The Buhl Planetarium and Institute of Popular Science
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania U.S.A.
Quick History and
Current Use of Building by Children's Museum

Authored By Glenn A. Walsh *** Sponsored By Friends of the Zeiss
Electronic Mail: < quickhistory@planetarium.cc > *** Internet Web Site Cover Page: < http://www.planetarium.cc >
Web Page Created 2006 March; Updated 2013 December

Photo
of Buhl Planetarium in Allegheny 
Square, Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh's original Buhl Planetarium and Institute of Popular Science, as viewed from Allegheny Square Plaza.
(Image Source: Friends of the Zeiss; Photographer: Lynne S. Walsh)

News Articles Regarding the 75th Anniversary of Buhl Planetarium

Beginnings

Facilities, Programs,
and Exhibits

Buhl
Science Center

Carnegie
Science Center

Children's Museum
of Pittsburgh

Directions to
Buhl Planetarium

History of Buhl Planetarium
Master Index

SpaceWatchtower
Blog

NEWS: Planetarium,
Astronomy, Space

Buhl Planetarium
"Firsts" & World Records

Beginnings

The modern-day optical/mechanical planetarium projector was first invented in Germany in August of 1923. The Zeiss I Planetarium Projector was first used at the Zeiss Optical Works in Jena, Germany, before being permanently installed at the Deutsches Museum in Munich in May of 1925.

The first Zeiss planetarium projector installation in the Americas occurred on 1930 May 12 in the new Adler Planetarium and Astronomical Museum (now known as the Adler Planetarium and Astronomy Museum) in Chicago. Five members of the recently formed (1929 June 9) Amateur Astronomers' Association of Pittsburgh (AAAP) drove to Chicago to learn about this new astronomical teaching tool. AAAP co-founder Leo J. Scanlon and other members prepared a glowing report, on the planetarium's great educational potential, for the Academy of Science and Art of Pittsburgh (which had been formed decades earlier by Henry Thaw and John A. Brashear, among others). The report recommended that funds be sought for the construction of a planetarium in Pittsburgh.

With the onset of the Great Depression, funds were scarce for such an endeavor. However, in 1935, Pittsburgh's Buhl Foundation (then the 13th largest charitable foundation in the United States) announced that it would fund such an institution (the final construction cost: $1.07 million), in the memory of Henry Buhl, Jr., who had been the co-owner of the very successful Boggs and Buhl Department Store on Pittsburgh's North Side. On 1937 July 20, the City of Pittsburgh leased property (one block north of the Boggs and Buhl Department Store), which was then occupied by the old Allegheny City Hall (no longer needed, since the City of Pittsburgh had annexed the City of Allegheny in December of 1907) to the Buhl Foundation for the construction of The Buhl Planetarium and Institute of Popular Science; the lease was for 99 years, at a cost of one dollar per year.

With a gala event on the Tuesday evening of 1939 October 24 at 8:30 p.m. (EST), The Buhl Planetarium and Institute of Popular Science was dedicated (the ceremony broadcast on three city radio stations, two of them broadcast the ceremony live!). On that date, the Buhl Foundation also gifted and conveyed the entire facility to the City of Pittsburgh, but agreed to fund any unfunded deficits of the institution for at least six years; the Buhl Foundation actually operated the museum for more than 42 years.

Walsh, Glenn A. "WHEN PITTSBURGH GOT ITS PLANETARIUM
"The 75th anniversary of America's 5th major planetarium."
Planetarian 2014 December: 50.
Click here for a history of Pittsburgh's original Buhl Planetarium and Institute of Popular Science starting on page 50 of the .pdf file
of this article in the Quarterly Journal of the International Planetarium Society.

"In Commemoration of Buhl Planetarium's Twenty-fifth Anniversary Celebration." Anniversary Celebration Program.
The Buhl Planetarium and Institute of Popular Science, Pittsburgh 1964 Dec. 7.
Cover of Program (Copy of Cover of special Buhl Planetarium section of The Pittsburgh Press, 1939 Oct. 29)
Page 1 *** Page 2

Facilities, Programs, and Exhibits of Buhl Planetarium

Buhl Planetarium was built as a 1939 state-of-the-art institution. It was the first publicly-owned building in the City, and possibly the State, to be constructed with air-conditioning, absolutely necessary since none of the public areas had windows.

Constructed in the heart of Buhl Planetarium was the 65-foot diameter inner dome and 425-seat Theater of the Stars (one of the largest planetarium theaters in the country) including the Zeiss Mark II Planetarium Projector, then the fifth such projector in the Americas The Zeiss II Projector was the first planetarium projector mounted on an elevator, custom-built by Pittsburgh's Westinghouse Electric Company, to facilitate other uses for the Theater of the Stars.

When the projector was lowered completely below floor level into the Zeiss Projector Pit, a small stage was created above the projector in the Theater. However, a second, larger stage was included on the north side of the Theater of the Stars, the first permanent theatrical stage in a planetarium (and, using electric motors, this stage actually expanded into the Theater of the Stars, when needed!). The Theater of the Stars was also the first planetarium theater (and, perhaps, the first theater !) to install a sound system specifically for the hearing-impaired; headsets used with this sound system were available for either air-conduction or bone-conduction of sound. With the start of World War II, Buhl Planetarium's Theater of the Stars was used to train military aviators in celestial navigation techniques.

Beginning in the 1980s and continuing until its dismantling in October of 2002, it was the oldest operable major planetarium projector in the world ! On 2010 July 1, the Zeiss II Planetarium Projector was placed on display as an exhibit-only (no display of planets or stars) in the Atrium Gallery of The Carnegie Science Center, located a mile southwest of the original Buhl Planetarium building on the North Shore of the Ohio River across from Downtown Pittsburgh's Golden Triangle.

An Astronomical Observatory was constructed for public use on the building's third floor, including two outdoor "wings" for the use of portable telescopes. The primary instrument for the Observatory, the rather unique 10-inch Siderostat-type Refractor Telescope, was not completed until 1941 November 19, with a dedication which included a keynote address by well-known twentieth century Astronomer Harlow Shapley (then, Director of the Harvard College Observatory). First light, viewed by guests that evening in the newly dedicated telescope, was the ringed-planet Saturn.

The second largest siderostat-type telescope in use at the time (the largest, a 15-inch in suburban Philadelphia has since been dismantled), and the only such telescope specifically designed for public use, this telescope allowed the public to view celestial objects in the warm Observing Room while the telescope remained in the often cold Telescope Room. As the telescope was permanently mounted on a concrete base, there was also no fear of a child accidentally bumping the telescope during an observing session.

Historic Anecdote: On the same evening of the Observatory dedication, Buhl started a new Planetarium Sky Show and opened a new gallery exhibit. The Sky Show, regarding Celestial Navigation, was titled "Bombers by Starlight." The new exhibit, in Buhl's lower-level Octagon Gallery(which encircles the planetarium projector pit, below the planetarium theater) was titled "Can America Be Bombed?" This exhibit opened two and one-half weeks before the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, Hawaii!

Other facilities built as part of the Buhl Planetarium building included a 250-seat Lecture Hall (a.k.a. Little Science Theater), beautiful wood-paneled 800-volume Library, beautiful brass and marble Pendulum Pit with a Foucault Pendulum, Amateur Astronomers' Workshop, and a Club Room along with classrooms. In the beginning, Buhl Planetarium had several "talking" exhibits, including the Foucault Pendulum (the original speaker, the last remnant of these talking exhibits, can still be seen in the Pendulum Pit). At the push of a button, a visitor could activate a record turntable, remotely located in a special sound room (across the hallway from the Planetarium Sound Room), which would provide an audio explanation of the exhibit.

In addition to these specialized facilities, the Buhl Planetarium building has five exhibit galleries, two on the first floor and three on the lower level. The Main Gallery or Great Hall on the first floor includes the Foucault Pendulum, and had access to the Theater of the Stars and the Little Science Theater. In later years, the Great Hall would include the large Mercator's Projection Map of the World (at the time, world's largest such map), Rand McNally Geo-Physcical Relief Globe, Eva Mirabal's mural of World War II parachutists later replaced by a mural of two 1960s satellites, steel industry mural from the U.S. Steel pavillion at the 1939 World's Fair in New York City later painted over with The Rise of Steel Technology by Washington County artist Nat H. Youngblood, Minerals and Fossils in Our Region Exhibit produced by the Mineral and Lapidary Society of Pittsburgh, BioCorner Embryology Exhibit (chicks, and occasionally ducklings, hatched each weekend), and of course the one-million volt Oudin-Type Tesla Coil.

The second gallery on the first floor was originally known as the Hall of Astronomy, but later was named the Hall of the Universe. The Hall of the Universe included a couple dozen classic push-button exhibits in a dark exhibit hall lit only by black-lights (ultraviolet lights). Several large astronomical murals were hung in the Hall of the Universe.

Three large fragments of the large meteorite that impacted the Barringer Meteor Crater near Winslow, Arizona were displayed in a special display case at the entrance to the Hall of the Universe. In the mid-1980s, the largest of these fragments (fifth largest meteorite fragment from the crater) was displayed on a special movable pedestal, so people could touch it. As this fragment weighs 746 pounds (340 kilograms), there was no concern that a visitor could walk-off with it, although many people did try to move it (with little success), particularly teenagers who patronized the evening rock-and-roll music laser-light concerts shown in Buhl Planetarium's Theater of the Stars. However, as the other two fragments did not weigh as much, and could possibly have been stolen, they were placed in storage.

The three exhibit galleries on Buhl Planetarium's lower level, included the Mezzanine, Bowdish Gallery (originally called South Gallery), and the Octagon Gallery. For many years, the Mezzanine was home to the Bell Telephone Exhibit, which included such popular exhibits as the Cybernetic Tic-Tac-Toe (which used mechanical relays for the "computer" to play the game with the visitor) and the Picture Phone booths (where two visitors could talk to each other via real-time, black-and-white, video telephones).

The Mezzanine also included a bicycle, sponsored by Duquesne Light Company, where a visitor could pedel the bicycle to see how much electricity they could generate, displayed by how high a wattage light bulb would light-up. Along the north wall of the Mezzanine, generally between the men's and women's rest rooms (the rest rooms were built with walls of beautiful Sienna Marble) hung eight astronomical paintings by Pennsylvania artist and architect Daniel Owen Stephens. A photograph of one of thsse paintings, "The Old Astronomer," has been published in Astronomy textbooks, as well as in a 1961 black-and-white filmstrip for schools called "The Race for Space." A portait of Nicholas Copernicus was commissioned by the Polish Arts League of Pittsburgh.

Bowdish Gallery, which was the long-time home of the Miniature Railroad and Village, was named in honor of the Miniature Railroad's creator, Charles Bowdish, at a special dedication ceremony in November of 1983. For many years, the gallery was also used during the annual Pittsburgh Regional School Science and Engineering Fair (as was every gallery in the building) to display children's Science projects. However, by the 1980s, it was decided not to go to all of the trouble to completely tear-down, and then rebuild, the Miniature Railroad platform (as well as move exhibits in other galleries) just for the Science Fair exhibition. From then-on the Science Fair was held in the gymnasium of the nearby Community College of Allegheny County, during the college's Spring break.

"CALLING ALL SCIENCE FAIR ALUMNI - HELP CELEBRATE 75 YEARS OF SCIENCE!
"PITTSBURGH REGIONAL SCIENCE & ENGINEERING FAIR TO HOLD 75TH COMPETITION."
News Release.
Carnegie Science Center 2014 March 4.
More on the history of the Pittsburgh Regional Science and Engineering Fair, which began as the Pittsburgh Regional School Science and Engineering Fair at Pittsburgh's original Buhl Planetarium and Institute of Popular Science in the Spring of 1940, the oldest regional science and engineering fair in the country!

The Octagon Gallery, the lowest gallery in the building (as it completely encircled the Zeiss II Projector Pit), was primarily used as a traveling exhibits gallery for many years. In June of 1983, the Computer Learning Lab (which replaced a smaller area with five Texas Instruments educational computers) was constructed in the east portion of the gallery, with more than a dozen Apple IIe personal computers, set-up in an early "LAN" network by Buhl Planetarium computer technician and planetarium lecturer John Fairman. Just outside of the Computer Learning Lab, an early touch-screen computer called "Pixel Paint Pots" allowed the public to use their fingers to make colorful images on the computer screen. In the mid-1980s, another learning lab, called the Discovery Lab (formerly Lab 1 classroom, just off of the Mezzanine Gallery) was created to present physics demonstrations to the public each day.

Later on, the west portion of the Octagon Gallery was home to "The Right Moves," an exhibit on motion which included a popular pitching cage where the speed of a visitor pitching a baseball could be measured by a radar gun. Also, the front of the gallery included a recycling exhibit, sponsored by the ALCOA Corporation. In the center of the Octagon Gallery (named for the eight sides of the hall), away from public view, is the Zeiss Projector Pit where the planetarium projector is stored when not in use in the Theater of the Stars.

In addition to daily demonstrations (usually immediately following the afternoon planetarium show) of the one-million volt Oudin-Type Tesla Coil, there were static electricity presentations utilizing the Van de Graaff electrostatic generator. Each year, school students from Western Pennsylvania and some West Virginia counties competed in the annual Pittsburgh Regional School Science and Engineering Fair, begun in the Spring of 1940, just a few months after Buhl Planetarium opened in October of 1939, the third oldest Science Fair in the United States (the oldest regional Science Fair in a major metropolitan area; the two older fairs are state-wide fairs).

Traveling and other major temporary exhibitions also drew people to Buhl Planetarium, such as the U.S. Army Air Force Air Power Show in October of 1944, which was used to help sell War Bonds. A major robotics weekend in the mid-1980s filled Buhl's Great Hall with wall-to-wall people. The annual Summer "Solstice Day" event, which included several special activities, was Buhl's annual free admission day.

During the Christmas season of 1954, Buhl Planetarium started a very popular holiday tradition in the city, as well as provide a major revenue stream for the institution's "bottom-line." Up until that point, the planetarium shows were the main draw for Buhl, along with occasional special exhibitions and programs. The annual showing of "The Star of Bethlehem" was always one of the most popular planetarium shows.

However, in 1954 when Buhl started the annual Christmas display of the Miniature Railroad and Village, the exhibition quickly drew long lines of people, both inside and outside the building, wanting to see the exhibition. During the very busiest times, such as on "Black Friday" (the day after Thanksgiving Day) or some days during Christmas week, two-hour-long waiting lines inside the building, for people to view the Miniature Railroad and Village, were often seen. Although at first it was only displayed during the month of December, Buhl quickly expanded the exhibition to four months (November through February) to meet popular demand. The revenue Buhl Planetarium derived, from the four months that the staff now called "Railroad Season," pretty-much paid for the rest of the year's operation of Buhl Planetarium !!!

Another revenue source for Buhl Planetarium came on 1977 July 14 when musical laser-light concerts came to Buhl's Theater of the Stars. Although rock-and-roll themed shows several evenings a week were best known, family-oriented and holiday-themed shows were also shown on weekends and during holiday periods.

Although Buhl Planetarium was best known for Astronomy, Space, and other Physical Sciences, there were also some Life Sciences programs and exhibitions. Two Life Sciences programs were performed in the Little Science Theater. A special instrument called an epideoscope projected life in a drop of water onto the Lecture Hall screen in a program called the Micro Zoo. In later years, Transpara the Talking Glass Lady used a life-size transparent plastic model of a woman to show the organs of the body and how they worked, during a 15-minute, pre-recorded presentation; one presentation was for children and another for adults.

"Wonder of Wonders," a sex-education program taught by a licensed nurse, was offered to school groups in the Wherrett Memorial Classroom (formerly the Club Room) adjacent to the Miniature Railroad's Bowdish Gallery. A "Tropical Fish Show", put on by the Greater Pittsburgh Aquarium Society (at the time, the longest such collaboration between a museum and a fish enthusiasts club), was scheduled for two weeks each year in the early Autumn, at the time of year (between the busy Summer months and the always busy "Railroad Season") when Buhl's daily attendance was the lowest. In the 1980s, the BioCorner Embryology Exhibit, where chicks (and occasionally ducklings) were hatched before visitors' eyes every weekend (and during some holiday periods) was particularly a great hit with young children.

In addition to the Greater Pittsburgh Aquarium Society, several other amateur science groups met regularly at Buhl Planetarium including the Amateur Astronomers Association of Pittsburgh (which originally lobbied to have a planetarium built in Pittsburgh), Amateur Transmitters Association of Western Pennsylvania (ham radio enthusiasts), and the Mineral and Lapidary Society of Pittsburgh (which sponsored a permanent exhibit of rocks and minerals found in the quad-state region at Buhl Planetarium), as well as some computer user groups in later years.

From astronomically-related paintings and murals inside the building, to the reliefs which adorn the building's exterior, art also had a place at the original Buhl Planetarium and Institute of Popular Science. Growing from a mathematics traveling exhibit called "Millions," a huge Great Pittsburgh Friendship Quilt was created in 1987 and 1988, using quilted squares signed by Buhl staff, friends, and visitors, as well as Pittsburgh-area dignitaries. Further, Buhl opened their doors allowing local organizations to put on annual shows in the building including the Allegheny Artists League Show, News Pix Salon (a show of news photographs), Kodak Salon, and the Pittsburgh Shell Club.

Each Saturday morning in the Winter and Spring months, students from schools throughout Western Pennsylvania would compete in preliminary rounds of the Western Pennsylvania Spelling Bee, then sponsored by The Pittsburgh Press (now sponsored by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette), in the Little Science Theater at Buhl Planetarium.

In the Theater of the Stars, an annual Foreign Language Festival, which had evolved from a Latin Festival, brought students in to perform skits and other presentations in a foreign language on the Planetarium's theatrical stage. These students then would watch a planetarium show, narrated in the foreign language they were studying.

Earned revenue was very important to Buhl Planetarium. After the first year of free admission to the building (with only a small charge for admission to the planetarium shows), Buhl Planetarium started charging a small fee for admission to the building. Actually, this new building admission charge was started primarily to prevent the homeless from spending the whole day in the building, to get away from the Summer heat (Buhl Planetarium was the first publicly-owned building in the City, and possibly the State, to be built with air-conditioning) or the Winter cold (public libraries continue to have a similar homeless problem).

Buhl Planetarium was always open to the public every day of the year except one. In the beginning, Buhl was only closed on New Year's Day, being open on Christmas Day apparently so people could see the annual "The Star of Bethlehem" planetarium sky show on that holy day. However, by the 1960s, Buhl closed on Christmas Day and opened on New Year's Day.

At all times the building was closed to the public, there would always be at least one person in the building for security reasons. Usually that person was the custodian; often two or three custodians (during the Christmas and New Year's holidays in 1982, when no custodians were scheduled, the author, Glenn A. Walsh, stayed in the building.) This changed in 1983 when a Sonitrol security system was installed. From then on, custodians were not usually scheduled during the overnight hours.

The Buhl Science Center

The Buhl Foundation, at the dedication of Buhl Planetarium, had agreed with the City of Pittsburgh to subsidize any unfunded deficits for the new institution for a minimum of six years. However, as the Great Depression moved into the World War II years, and then the post-war years, the Buhl Foundation continued funding Buhl's operational deficits. In fact, for more than 42 years, the Board of Directors of the Buhl Foundation directly operated The Buhl Planetarium and Institute of Popular Science; the Buhl Planetarium Executive Director reported directly to the Buhl Foundation. During this time, the Buhl Foundation Board of Directors included a member of Pittsburgh City Council, as the Buhl Planetarium building, and many of the pieces of equipment and artifacts, are legally owned by the City of Pittsburgh.

It was unusual for the Buhl Foundation to directly operate Buhl Planetarium, as most charitable foundations prefer funding capital and special projects of charitable institutions, not day-to-day operations. While the Buhl Foundation completely funded Buhl Planetarium for many years, in later years sporadic funding also came from the City, County of Allegheny, Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and the Federal Government's Institute of Museum and Library Services.

By the late 1970s, community leaders and the Buhl Foundation officials were considering the future of Buhl Planetarium. Similar to some older exhibits in The Carnegie Museum of Natural History, some people thought that some of Buhl's exhibits were outdated, and Buhl was not keeping up with the times. At the same time, the Buhl Foundation was reevaluating their decades-long commitment to the ongoing operations of Buhl Planetarium. Some Buhl Foundation officials thought that money used to subsidize Buhl Planetarium operating expenses might be better used to help serve other community needs.

Consequently, in February of 1982, the Buhl Foundation officially ceased subsidizing day-to-day operations of Buhl Planetarium. This occurred after a long process of preparing Buhl Planetarium to operate on its own; the Buhl Foundation continued assisting with special projects and capital needs.

The long Buhl Planetarium and Institute of Popular Science name was shortened to Buhl Science Center, to mark a change in direction for the institution. While Buhl Planetarium had always been a museum of many different sciences, most people still thought of Buhl Planetarium as primarily a place for Astronomy and the Space Sciences. It was hoped that the new name may show the public that Buhl was expanding into other sciences, similar to other popular science museums such as the Exploratorium in San Francisco, Ontario Science Center in Toronto, and the Center of Science and Industry in Columbus.

At the same time that a new Buhl Science Center Board of Directors was appointed, they hired a new President. Joshua C. Whetzel, Jr., who was Chairman of the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy, was asked to take charge of the Buhl Science Center and help update the Institute's exhibits and image.

The Carnegie Science Center

In the mid-1980s, serious consideration was given to expansion of Buhl Planetarium (possibly including new underground galleries under the existing Allegheny Square Plaza, with a new Omnimax Theater built in the center of the plaza) or construction of an entire new Science Center building. Partly due to the fact that space to expand the original building was limited, it was finally decided to build an entirely new facility on the North Shore of the Ohio River, about a mile southwest of the original building.

In the meantime, Buhl Planetarium (a.k.a. Buhl Science Center in the 1980s) merged with Carnegie Institute (a.k.a. Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh or simply "The Carnegie") on 1987 January 1 after a previous merger attempt had been rejected by Carnegie Institute. The second time, Carnegie Institute was interested in the proposal to build a new science center building, with an Omnimax Theater.

Carnegie Institute is a huge museum complex, which includes the Museum of Natural History, Museum of Art, Music Hall, and the main branch of The Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh (which includes a Lecture Hall), located in Oakland, Pittsburgh's educational/medical civic center, about four miles from the North Side. Industrialist Andrew Carnegie built Carnegie Library and Carnegie Institute in 1895 as the beginning of his effort to use the wealth he had amassed in the steel industry for the benefit of the general public.

While Buhl Planetarium / Buhl Science Center kept the "Buhl" name, the Board of Trustees of Carnegie Institute decided that the new facility would be named "The Carnegie Science Center." Inside The Carnegie Science Center would be a second Buhl Planetarium, officially named the "Henry Buhl, Jr. Planetarium and Observatory." This new facility included a smaller planetarium theater (50-foot diameter dome with 156 seats; the original Buhl Planetarium has a 65-foot diameter dome with seating for 425) and utilized a Digistar Projector (later replaced by a Digistar II Projector). The Henry Buhl, Jr. Planetarium and Observatory included a more traditional domed observatory (Buhl Planetarium's original "People's Observatory" used a flat, roll-away roof, due to the unique nature of the 10-inch Siderostat-type Refractor Telescope) on the roof of The Carnegie Science Center (originally on the top of a stair-tower to eliminate building vibrations with images trsnsmitted into the planetarium via a CCD camera system; later, the observatory was moved to an observation deck to allow public access), with a 16-inch reflector telescope.

With the closing of the original Buhl Planetarium as a public museum on 1991 August 31 (The Carnegie Science Center opened ro the public on 1991 October 5), the original Buhl Planetarium building became a tutorial center (known as "The Carnegie Science Center, Allegheny Square Annex") where Science Center Astronomy, Science, and Computer classes continued to be taught, as well as professional development programs for teachers. It had been decided to use the original building for these classes, thus allowing more space in the new building for exhibits; originally, no classroom space was built in the new building.

Due to financial problems, it was decided to consolidate the classes into the new building, effective February of 1994. At that time, the Buhl Planetarium building was completely closed. In the following years, there were several plans for reuse of the Buhl Planetarium building (expansion of the National Aviary, Italian-American cultural center, and Pittsburgh Public Schools School for Gifted Children). None of these plans came to fruition, for both financial and political reasons.

Children's Museum of Pittsburgh

At the beginning of the new millenium, the Children's Museum of Pittsburgh offered to expand their museum to include the Buhl Planetarium building. Beginning in June of 1983, the Children's Museum had been housed in the Old Allegheny Post Office, just across the street from Buhl Planetarium.

Regrettably, the Children's Museum management refused to retain most of the historic pieces of equipment and artifacts (including the Zeiss II Planetarium Projector, 10-inch Siderostat-type Refractor Telescope, large Mercator's Projection Map of the World, and The Rise of Steel Technology mural), as well as a historic building inscription (astronomical quote from the Bible on the east exterior wall of the Buhl Planetarium building), despite efforts of local preservationists (particularly a new group called Friends of the Zeiss) to convince them otherwise; the Pittsburgh History and Landmarks Foundation was particularly concerned with the removal of the building inscription on the historic facade. These are all now dismantled and in storage, with the exception of the Zeiss II Planetarium Projector which is on exhibit-only at The Carnegie Science Center. Friends of the Zeiss continues efforts to have these historic pieces of equipment and artifacts returned to the Buhl Planetarium building, to be used to educate children visiting the Children's Museum.

The Children's Museum constructed a modern "nightlight building" to physically connect the 1897 Old Allegheny Post Office with the 1939 Buhl Planetarium. The Children's Museum did retain and reuse the Foucault Pendulum and Grand Clock in the Buhl Planetarium's historic, marble-walled Great Hall on the first floor, as well as the beautiful wood-paneled Library and a separate office area wooden bookcase (page 31), both on the second floor (Library is now used for Children's Museum classes), and 40 of the original seats from the 250-seat Lecture Hall (a.k.a. Little Science Theater). In November of 2013, Buhl Planetarium's historic flag pole was restored and, once again, started displaying the American flag.

Buhl Planetarium was constructed along the original town square (Diamond Square) for the City of Allegheny, which was Pittsburgh's sister city until Pittsburgh and Allegheny City merged in 1907. During Buhl Planetarium's construction (1937 to 1939), the City of Pittsburgh simultaneously rebuilt the town square into Ober Park, named for one of the owners of the then-North Side's Eberhardt and Ober Brewery who endowed the Park. With the construction of an Urban Renewal Project, by the ALCOA Corporation in the 1960s, known as Allegheny Center (which included a major shopping mall, two major office buildings, and four apartment buildings, while also closing city streets within the complex in favor of pedestrian plazas), Ober Park was transformed into a lower-level Allegheny Square Plaza. After years of neglect, the Children's Museum spearheaded a project which resulted in the 2012 opening of Buhl Community Park at Allegheny Square.

The Children's Museum is now using the Buhl Planetarium Great Hall as a cafe, and as such the cafe is free-of-charge to the public (you now need to enter the new entrance, in the "nightlight building," to access the cafe in Buhl Planetarium's Great Hall). The expanded Children's Museum, including the Buhl Planetarium building, opened to the general public in November of 2004.

Directions to Original Buhl Planetarium Building

Presently, the original (City-owned) building of The Buhl Planetarium and Institute of Popular Science (1939) (located on the site of the former Allegheny City Hall) is being used as part of the Children's Museum of Pittsburgh. There is no admission charge to the first floor Great Hall of the original Buhl Planetarium building, as the Children's Museum uses the Great Hall as a cafe. Thus, for no charge you can see Buhl Planetarium's historic Foucault Pendulum and Grand Clock in the Sienna Marble-walled Great Hall.

The original Buhl Planetarium building is located four blocks north of the Allegheny River, across the river from Downtown Pittsburgh's "Golden Triangle." Originally located at the intersection of West Ohio Street at Federal Street on Pittsburgh's Lower North Side, the original Buhl Planetarium can now be found near the center of a pedestrian complex known as Allegheny Center. Allegheny Center, which now exists in what was the core of the central business district of the City of Allegheny (which merged with the City of Pittsburgh in 1907), is a multi-building office-retail-apartment complex constructed as part of a large 1960s-era Urban Renewal Project by the ALCOA Corporation. The original Allegheny City/Lower North Side street grid was significantly altered by the Urban Renewal Project, with several blocks of Federal Street and Ohio Street becoming pedestrian malls.

From Downtown Pittsburgh, the most direct route to Buhl Planetarium is by the new subway extension to the North Side. SPECIAL NOTE: Subway travel between Downtown subway stations and the North Side Subway Station is free-of-charge at all times! Board any subway train at any major Downtown rail station (First Avenue, Steel Plaza, Wood Street, Gateway); disembark at the North Side Subway Station. When leaving the subway station, turn left and walk a block and a half east, along West General Robinson Street, until you reach Federal Street. Turn left again and walk north along Federal Street until it ends at the Allegheny Center Mall (now an office mall building). During weekdays (when the office mall is open to the public), continue walking straight through the office mall and continue walking north along the pedestrian plaza (formerly Federal Street) and past the One Allegheny Center office building. At this point you will have reached Buhl Community Park at Allegheny Square, and you should be able to see a building with a large dome on the left (Buhl Planetarium) and a building with a clock tower on the right (original Carnegie Free Library of Allegheny). On weekends and holidays, walk around the large mall building to reach Allegheny Square, where the Buhl Planetarium and Carnegie Library buildings can be found. To reach Buhl Planetarium's Great Hall, enter the Children's Museum through the new entrance in the new "nightlight building," located between the original Buhl Planetarium building and a second historic building with a dome, the Old Allegheny Post Office.

Map to Buhl Planetarium Building

Detailed Directions to Buhl Planetarium by:
Walking *** Driving

Two other historic buildings, and a historic park, are adjacent to Buhl Planetarium:

1) Old Allegheny Post Office (1897) - also being used as part of the Children's Museum of Pittsburgh. This building, rehabilitated by the Pittsburgh History and Landmarks Foundation, is owned by the Children's Museum of Pittsburgh.

2) Carnegie Free Library of Allegheny / Carnegie Hall (1890) - The Carnegie Free Library of Allegheny, now known as the Allegheny Regional Branch of The Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, was the first Carnegie Library constructed in the Americas, which used public tax funds for day-to-day operations. Carnegie Hall, which now includes the Hazlett Theatre, was the world's first Carnegie Hall; New York City's famous Carnegie Hall opened a year later. This building, including both the Library and Music Hall, is owned by the City of Pittsburgh. After lightning struck and damaged the clocktower in 2006, The Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh abandoned the building (even though the City of Pittsburgh repaired all damages) and built a new library building three blocks north on Federal Street. Carnegie Hall is now utilized by the New Hazlett Theater. The library basement is now a Senior Citizens Center. The Children;s Museum of Pittsburgh is now considering possible reuses for the library section of the building.

3) Buhl Community Park at Allegheny Square - Originally known as the Allegheny Diamond, and later as Ober Park and then Allegheny Square Plaza, is a city-owned pedestrian park directly in front of the main Buhl Planetarium entrance.

News Articles Regarding the 75th Anniversary of Buhl Planetarium

2016: 75th Year of Pittsburgh's Buhl Planetarium Observatory Historic 10-inch Siderostat-type Refractor Telescope at Pittsburgh's original Buhl Planetarium and Institute of Popular Science.

The People's Observatory of The Buhl Planetarium and Institute of Popular Science / Buhl Science Center:
10-inch Siderostat-type Refractor Telescope - 1941 November 19 to 1991 August 31

Henry Buhl, Jr. Planetarium and Observatory at The Carnegie Science Center:
16-inch Meade LX200 Schmidt-Cassegrain Reflector Telescope - 1991 October 5 to Present

2014: 75th Year of Pittsburgh's Buhl Planetarium Historic Zeiss II Planetarium Projector at Pittsburgh's original Buhl Planetarium and Institute of Popular Science.

The Buhl Planetarium and Institute of Popular Science / Buhl Science Center - 1939 October 24 to 1991 August 31
Henry Buhl, Jr. Planetarium and Observatory at The Carnegie Science Center - 1991 October 5 to Present

Walsh, Glenn A. "Celestial Navigation Classes Return to Naval Academy After Absence of Nearly a Decade." Blog-Post.
SpaceWatchtower 2016 Dec. 7.
During World War II several planetaria, including Pittsburgh's original Buhl Planetarium and Institute of Popular Science,
taught Celestial Navigation classes to military servicemen bound for service in the War. In fact, Buhl Planetarium
premiered a public planetarium program on Celestial Navigation, titled “Bombers By Starlight,” just two and
one-half weeks before the surprise Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii on 1941 December 7 – 75 years ago, today.
This new “sky show” premiered on 1941 November 19, the same evening when famous astronomer Harlow Shapley
(then Director of the Harvard College Observatory) gave the keynote address at the dedication of Buhl Planetarium's
new, and rather unique, 10-inch Siderostat-Type Refractor Telescope. And after the sky show, a new Buhl Planetarium
gallery exhibit opened, with the-then intriguing title, “Can America Be Bombed?”
Special Note: This article was reprinted in the 2017 March issue (Volume 46, Number 1, Pages 56 to 58, of the .pdf file) of the
Quarterly Journal of the International Planetarium Society, Planetarian.

Friends of the Zeiss. "Astronomical Calendar: 2016 December." Blog-Post.
SpaceWatchtower 2016 Dec. 1.
Cover photograph: rare color photograph of the 1941 December 7 Japanese surprise attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.
Caption also mentions opening of exhibit, "Can America Be Bombed?", at Pittsburgh's original Buhl Planetarium and Institute
of Popular Science
two and one-half weeks earlier, along with dedication of the rather unique 10-inch Siderostat-Type Refractor Telescope.

Walsh, Glenn A. "Science Center Addition Omits Historic Telescope."
Public Statement Before Allegheny County Council.
Friends of the Zeiss 2016 Nov. 22.

Berger, Larry. Radio Interview Regarding 75th Anniversary of Buhl Planetarium Observatory. Audio: Radio Interview.
Saturday Light Brigade Radio Program: NeighborhoodVoices.org 2016 November 19.
Larry Berger, host of the Saturday Light Brigade children's / family radio program, interviewed Glenn A. Walsh on the
75th anniversary of the Astronomical Observatory of Pittsburgh's original Buhl Planetarium and Institute of
Popular Science, which was dedicated on 1941 November 19.

Walsh, Glenn A. "75th Anniversary: America's 5th Public Observatory." Blog-Post.
SpaceWatchtower 2016 Nov. 19.
75th anniversary of The People's Observatory of Pittsburgh's original Buhl Planetarium and
Institute of Popular Science, including the rather unique 10-inch Siderostat-Type Refractor Telescope.

Walsh, Glenn A. "Science Center Addition Omits Historic Telescope."
Public Statement Before Pittsburgh City Council.
Friends of the Zeiss 2016 Nov. 14.

Walsh, Glenn A. "Science Center Addition Omits Historic Telescope."
Public Statement Before Special Board Meeting of the Allegheny Regional Asset District Board of Directors.
Friends of the Zeiss 2016 Nov. 9.

Walsh, Glenn A. "Proposed Carnegie Science Center Addition Omits Historic Telescope." Blog-Post.
SpaceWatchtower 2016 Oct. 6.

Behrman, Elizabeth. "Buhl Planetarium telescope excluded from science center's expansion plans."
Tribune-Review, Pittsburgh 2016 Oct. 6.

Nelson Jones, Diana. "Planning Commission OKs plan to expand Carnegie Science Center."
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette 2016 October 5.
The end of the article discusses Mr. Walsh's public statement before the City Planning Commission.

Walsh, Glenn A. "Science Center Master Plan: Siderostat Observatory Missing."
Public Statement Before the Pittsburgh City Planning Commission.
Friends of the Zeiss 2016 Oct. 4.

Walsh, Glenn A. "WHEN PITTSBURGH GOT ITS PLANETARIUM
"The 75th anniversary of America's 5th major planetarium."
Planetarian 2014 December: 50.
Click here for a history of Pittsburgh's original Buhl Planetarium and Institute of Popular Science starting on page 50 of the .pdf file
of this article in the Quarterly Journal of the International Planetarium Society.

Skirtich, Ed. "Science Center train exhibit reaches milestone."
The Northside Chronicle On-Line, Pittsburgh 2014 Dec. 11.
The 60th anniversary of the Miniature Railroad and Village in Pittsburgh includes a scale-model of the original
Buhl Planetarium and Institute of Popular Science building.

"SCIENCE CENTER TO HOST WEEKEND OF TRAIN-THEMED FUN." News Release.
Carnegie Science Center 2014 Dec. 3.
All of this is in addition to the beloved Miniature Railroad & Village® with its newest feature, the Buhl Planetarium;
a mini-railroad and village around the holiday tree in the main lobby; and dozens of historic model train artifacts from
Lionel’s private collection.

Walsh, Glenn A. "Buhl Planetarium Scale-Model Joins Miniature Railroad and Village." Blog Post.
SpaceWatchtower 2014 Nov. 27.
For the 75th anniversary of Buhl Planetarium, the 2014 opening of the Miniature Railroad and Village at The Carnegie Science Center includes a scale model of Pittsburgh's original Buhl Planetarium and Institute of Popular Science building.

"DEC. 4 – PUBLIC VIEWING, VIA WEB-CAST, OF 1st NASA TEST LAUNCH
OF NEW ORION DEEP-SPACE VEHICLE AT MT. LEBANON PUBLIC LIBRARY."
News Release.
Friends of the Zeiss 2014 Nov. 24.

Gormly, Kellie B. "Carnegie Science Center adds legendary Buhl Planetarium to railroad village."
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review On-Line 2014 Nov. 20.

Carnegie Science Center added 3 new photos on Facebook Facebook Micro-Blog Post.
Carnegie Science Center 2014 Nov. 19.
A scale model of the original building of Pittsburgh's original Buhl Planetarium and Institute of Popular Science
is added to other scale models of Pittsburgh historic structures on the platform of the Miniature Railroad and Village,
which started display at Pittsburgh's original Buhl Planetarium in 1954 and now is displayed at Pittsburgh's Carnegie
Science Center.

"BUHL PLANETARIUM BUILDING TO BE UNVEILED IN MINIATURE RAILROAD ." News Release.
Carnegie Science Center 2014 Nov. 17.

Radio Interviews (2) of Glenn A. Walsh Regarding the 75th Anniversary of Buhl Planetarium -
* "Preview: Buhl Planetarium 75th Anniversary." The Saturday Light Brigade / Neighborhood Voices.
WRCT-FM 88.3 Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh (and network of 5 Western Pennsylvania and
Eastern Ohio college radio stations) 2014 Oct. 25.
Radio interview occurred in the studios of The Saturday Light Brigade, located in Bowdish Gallery of
Pittsburgh's original Buhl Planetarium and Institute of Popular Science building.
* "Wednesday Rundown: Celebrating the Birthday of the Original Buhl Projector." Essential Pittsburgh.
WESA-FM 90.5 Pittsburgh 2014 Oct. 22.

Walsh, Glenn A. "75th Anniversary of America's 5th Major Planetarium." Blog Post.
SpaceWatchtower 2014 Oct. 24.

Walsh, Glenn A. "Solar Eclipse on Eve of Buhl Planetarium's 75th Anniversary." Blog Post.
SpaceWatchtower 2014 Oct. 21.

"Buhl Planetarium observes 75th with space events."
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette 2014 Oct. 7.

Karlovits, Bob. "Buhl Planetarium at 75: Still state-of-the-art science."
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review On-Line 2014 Oct. 4.

"SCIENCE CENTER TO COMMEMORATE 75 YEARS OF BUHL PLANETARIUM
ASTRONOMY-THEMED EVENTS, EDUCATION ACADEMY TO FETE PITTSBURGH ICON.

News Release. Carnegie Science Center 2014 Sept. 29.

"OCT. 23 – SAFE PUBLIC VIEWING OF SOLAR ECLIPSE AT MT. LEBANON PUBLIC LIBRARY,
ON EVE OF 75TH ANNIV. OF BUHL PLANETARIUM."
News Release.
Friends of the Zeiss 2014 Sept. 15.

"CALLING ALL SCIENCE FAIR ALUMNI - HELP CELEBRATE 75 YEARS OF SCIENCE!
"PITTSBURGH REGIONAL SCIENCE & ENGINEERING FAIR TO HOLD 75TH COMPETITION."
News Release.
Carnegie Science Center 2014 March 4.
More on the history of the Pittsburgh Regional Science and Engineering Fair, which began as the Pittsburgh Regional School Science and Engineering Fair at Pittsburgh's original Buhl Planetarium and Institute of Popular Science in the Spring of 1940, the oldest regional science and engineering fair in the country!

Walsh, Glenn A. "100 Years Ago: Planetarium Concept Born ." Blog Post.
SpaceWatchtower 2014 Feb. 24.

Walsh, Glenn A. "Northside Chronicle: Buhl Planetarium Turns 75." Blog Post.
SpaceWatchtower 2014 Feb. 8.
The 2014 February edition of North Side Pittsburgh's monthly newspaper, The Northside Chronicle,
includes a feature article on the 75th year of Pittsburgh's Buhl Planetarium.

Douty, Kristin. "Buhl Planetarium turns 75."
The Northside Chronicle On-Line, Pittsburgh 2014 Jan. 30.

Walsh, Glenn. '2014: 75th Year of Pittsburgh's Buhl Planetarium." Blog Post / Web Page.
SpaceWatchtower / History of The Buhl Planetarium and Institute of Popular Science, Pittsburgh 2014 Jan. 1.
With the beginning of 2014, it is well into the 75th year of operation of Pittsburgh's Buhl Planetarium. The 75th anniversary of The Buhl Planetarium and Institute of Popular Science will be October 24.
The Buhl Planetarium and Institute of Popular Science / Buhl Science Center --- 1939 October 24 to 1991 August 31
Henry Buhl, Jr. Planetarium and Observatory at The Carnegie Science Center --- 1991 October 5 to Present

"In Commemoration of Buhl Planetarium's Twenty-fifth Anniversary Celebration." Anniversary Celebration Program.
The Buhl Planetarium and Institute of Popular Science, Pittsburgh 1964 Dec. 7.
Cover of Program (Copy of Cover of special Buhl Planetarium section of The Pittsburgh Press, 1939 Oct. 29)
Page 1 *** Page 2

Master Index - History of The Buhl Planetarium and Institute of Popular Science, Pittsburgh

General
History

Planetarium &
Observatory

Institute &
Exhibits

Building
Physical Plant

Related
Biographies

Bios: Building
Inscriptions

Other
History Links

SpaceWatchtower
Blog

NEWS: Planetarium,
Astronomy, Space

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) -
Astronomy and Other Sciences

Eclipse of the Sun / Solar Eclipse:
Tips For Safe Viewing

Astronomical Calendar:

Current
Month

Archives

Quick-Reference Page - Science Including

Health &
Medical Info

Current Weather
Info & Maps

Precise Time
& Calendars

Have a Question About Astronomy or Other Sciences? Ask an Expert from Friends of the Zeiss!


Other Internet Web Sites of Interest

History of The Buhl Planetarium and Institute of Popular Science, Pittsburgh -
Which Housed the Oldest Operable Major Planetarium Projector in the World !

History of The Adler Planetarium and Astronomy Museum, Chicago -
America's First Major Planetarium !

History of Astronomer, Educator, and Optician John A. Brashear

History of Andrew Carnegie and Carnegie Libraries

The Duquesne Incline, Pittsburgh -
Historic Cable Car Railway Serving Commuters and Tourists since 1877 !

Other History Links


The Buhl Planetarium and Institute of Popular Science
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania U.S.A.
Quick History and
Current Use of Building by Children's Museum

Beginnings

Facilities, Programs,
and Exhibits

Carnegie Science Center

Children's Museum
of Pittsburgh

Directions to
Buhl Planetarium

HIstory of Buhl Planetarium
Master Index

SpaceWatchtower
Blog

NEWS: Planetarium,
Astronomy, Space

Buhl Planetarium
"Firsts" & World Records

Authored By Glenn A. Walsh *** Sponsored By Friends of the Zeiss
Electronic Mail: < quickhistory@planetarium.cc > *** Internet Web Site Cover Page: < http://www.planetarium.cc >
This Internet Web Page: < http://buhlplanetarium.tripod.com/75years/quickhistory.html >
Web Page Created 2006 March; Updated 2013 December

NEWS: Planetarium, Astronomy, Space, and Other Sciences

Have a Question About Astronomy or Other Sciences? Ask an Expert from Friends of the Zeiss!

Internet Web Site Master Index for the History of
The Buhl Planetarium and Institute of Popular Science, Pittsburgh

Disclaimer Statement: This Internet Web Site is not affiliated with the Andrew Carnegie Free Library,
Ninth Pennsylvania Reserves Civil War Reenactment Group, Henry Buhl, Jr. Planetarium and Observatory,
The Carnegie Science Center, The Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh/Carnegie Institute, or The Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh.

This Internet, World Wide Web Site administered by Glenn A. Walsh.
Unless otherwise indicated, all pages in this web site are --
© Copyright 2006-2014, Glenn A. Walsh, All Rights Reserved.
Contact Web Site Administrator: < quickhistory@planetarium.cc >.

This Internet World Wide Web page created in March of 2006; updated 2013 December 28.
Last modified : Wednesday, 29-Mar-2017 00:27:53 EDT.

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