Douty, Kristin. "Buhl Planetarium celebrates 75th birthday."
The Northside Chronicle, Pittsburgh 2014 February: 12.

Buhl Planetarium celebrates 75th birthday

of Buhl Planetarium in Allegheny 
Square, Pittsburgh

The Buhl Planetarium had 200,000 visitors in 1954 for the early twentieth-century Miniature Railroad and Village.

By Kristin Douty
This year, the Buhl Planetarium -- Northside's astronomical observatory and historic landmark -- turns 75 years old.

The landmark has accumulated an impressive history since it opened in 1939, when it was one of the earliest museums of the physical sciences in the country and the first institute in the country to design a sound system to accommodate hearing impaired visitors.

Although the original building currently houses the Children's Museum of Pittsburgh, 10 Children's Way, Buhl Planetarium was once a standalone organization and beloved by the local community.

The planetarium's Octagon Hall originally displayed now-famous exhibits, including daily, public demonstrations of the one million volt Tesla Coil, a machine that produced man-made lightning.

In 1954, Buhl Planetarium attracted over 200,000 visitors for the enormous early twentieth-century Miniature Railroad and Village. Glenn Walsh, a local preservationist and historian of the planetarium, notes that this exhibit alone could "fund the entire planetarium for a whole year."

Pittsburgh native Walsh has documented the history of Buhl Planetarium since his childhood.

"I used to go to the planetarium quite often to see the exhibits," Walsh said. "In 1982, I was hired as a tour guide."

After several years of designing and managing tours, Walsh became the manager of the astronomical observatory, where he conducted daytime public viewings of the surface of the sun using a telescope and projection screen.

Located only four blocks from the Allegheny River, in what used to be the central business district of Northside, the planetarium was convenient and accessible for visiting scientists as well as neighborhood residents.

Walsh recalls the early days of the Buhl Planetarium, when "it was not just an astronomy observatory. The planetarium was also used by the community for popular events like the Star of Bethlehem show every Christmas."

The Buhl Planetarium has experienced substantial changes since its initial opening. After years of financial troubles, the organization merged with Carnegie Science Center on Pittsburgh's North Side, one mile from the original planetarium site.

The planetarium became affiliated with the Children's Museum of Pittsburgh, where some of the original memorabilia can be seen free of charge on the first floor, including the Foucault Pendulum and Grand Clock.

Despite efforts to preserve all of the original memorabilia from Buhl Planetarium, exhibits like the Tesla Coil and Miniature Railroad and Village have been permanently moved to the Carnegie Science Center for continuous display.

Substantial funding is required to preserve these artifacts as well as the buildings that house the heritage of Northside a venture that Walsh hopes will occur in the near future.

"Funding is always a major problem for historical centers, but maybe it is possible if we pull together as a community," Walsh said.

Return to History of The Buhl Planetarium and Institute of Popular Science, Pittsburgh

Northside Chronicle: "Buhl Planetarium celebrates 75th birthday"

Authored by Kristin Douty
Web Page Edited By Glenn A. Walsh *** Sponsored By Friends of the Zeiss
Electronic Mail: < > *** Internet Web Site Cover Page: < >
This Internet Web Page: < >
News: Astronomy, Space, Science: SpaceWatchtower Blog
2015 July

NEWS: Planetarium, Astronomy, Space, and Other Sciences

See an Unexplained Object in the Sky ?
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

Other Internet Web Sites of Interest

History of The Buhl Planetarium and Institute of Popular Science, Pittsburgh

History of Adler Planetarium and Astronomy Museum, Chicago

Astronomer, Educator, and Telescope Maker John A. Brashear

History of Andrew Carnegie and Carnegie Libraries

Historic Duquesne Incline cable-car railway, 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 2015, Glenn A. Walsh, All Rights Reserved.
Contact Web Site Administrator: < >.

This Internet World Wide Web page created on 2015 July 3.
Last modified : Saturday, 04-Jul-2015 00:24:12 EDT.

You are visitor number , to this web page, since 2015 July 3.