Vintage Photos of Pittsburgh Life in the ’40s

As a staff photographer for the Pittsburgh Courier, Charles “Teenie” Harris amassed one of the biggest visual documents of 20th century African American experience. With equal passion, he snapped candid shots of celebrities like Lena Horne and JFK and documented everyday occurrences in the thriving communities of the industrial city, at the time when a civil rights boycott as much part of life as a boxing match. The Pittsburgh Carnegie Museum of Art is currently exhibiting 1,000 of Teenie’s photographs as projections accompanied by an original jazz soundtrack from 73,000 cataloged and digitized artifacts in their library, through April 7, 2012. Teenie Harris, Photographer: An American Story is the first major retrospective of the city legend, spanning from the ’30s through the ’70s. See a few of his mid-century shots in our gallery, featuring glamorous gals framed by steel mill smokestacks and Eartha Kitt leaping through a community event poster.

Photo credit: Charles “Teenie” Harris. Boxers, possibly Golden Gloves contenders, lined up in boxing ring, c. 1955. Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh