The Skinny Building
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member Kordite
N 40° 26.418 W 080° 00.054
17T E 584733 N 4477107
Quick Description: The shallowest commercial building in the world. Located in downtown Pittsburgh, PA.
Location: Pennsylvania, United States
Date Posted: 12/5/2005 4:57:36 PM
Waymark Code: WM4JQ
Published By: Groundspeak Premium Member Kordite
Views: 196

Long Description:
In 1903, the City of Pittsburgh confiscated 30 feet of throughway to widen Diamond Way into what is now Forbes Avenue. Given that the standard parcel was 36 feet wide, there wasn't much left and most property owners sold off the remaining fragments to the city to become wider sidewalks.

In 1907, banking magnate Andrew Mellon purchased the 6 foot wide parcel of land, hoping the city would widen the street further and offer him a profit on his investment. In any case, the City wasn't buying and in 1918 he sold the parcel to Louis Hendel who built a three story building on the parcel. He may have been trying to take advantage of a quirk in the tax structure that assessed undeveloped property at a higher rate, but most people think he built to spite the city.

Nearly a century later, the city changed its mind. Wanting to redevelop the Fifth-Forbes corridor, Mayor Tom Murphy threatened to seize the property using eminent domain and hand it over to developers. That plan collapsed (as did the one after that) so the building lives on. These days, there are two vendors on the Skinny Building's first floor, selling shirts, hats, purses, belts and a variety of other items. The second and third floors (accessed through a narrow spiral staircase) are being turned into a public art display by Pittsburgh’s Ground Zero Action Network. Each month the 24 windows show off innovative projects by Pittsburgh artists.

At 5'2" wide, the so called "Skinny Building" is the narrowest in the world. It must, however, fight for that title as the Sam Key Building in Vancouver, British Columbia is currently listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the shallowest commercial building in the world. ( The Sam Key Building is 6' wide, a full 10 inches wider than Pittsburgh's claimant. Visit their website and compare it to the pictures here and I believe you can actually see the difference.

Or better yet, visit Vancouver yourself and take a tape measure to it. (The Sam Key Building is at 8 West Pender St, Vancouver, BC V6B1R5 Canada - N49 16.836 W123 06.300)

The Skinny Building
Building stands at corner of past and future, Pgh Post-Gazette, 7 Nov 2002
Pittsburgh wants title as city with skinniest building, Pgh Business Times, 17 Oct 2003
Here: In Downtown, Pgh Post Gazette, 30 May 2004

Building Address:
Forbes Ave. & Wood St.
Pittsburgh, PA United States

Is it open to the general public?: no

When was it built? (Approximate if you must.): 12/31/1918

What is the name of this building?: Skinny Building

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