PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – It took months of painstaking work, but the last panel of the Civic Arena’s iconic domed roof came crashing down Saturday.
It was a day of history in Pittsburgh as the famous building disappeared completely from the city’s skyline.
But the nearly-demolished Civic Arena’s final act would prove one of her best as no one expected a surprise ending.
“This is the last hurrah for the arena,” said George Boehm, of Noralco Demolition. “If all goes well, probably 12:30ish.”
KDKA’s Ross Guidotti reports:
The final part of demolition was to be uneventful – a slow lowering of the famous cantilever arm as well as the remaining roof section softly onto the arena floor.
Workers methodically sliced with cutting torches through the steel.
“It’s interesting, watching piece by piece come down,” said Marianne Defibaugh, a Pittsburgher who stopped to watch the demolition. “Just seeing history in the making and seeing it go.”
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“Normal logic on a demolition job doesn’t really pertain to this particular job. So you have to un-build the way they built it,” said Boehm. “It’s a good challenge, good adrenaline challenge for me.”
But the adrenaline began to flow for everyone when at 11:35 a.m., to everyone’s shock, the final portion of the arena came crashing down earlier than expected.
Shay Kochian’s husband, Chris, was one of the men cutting the steel when gravity decided it was time for the last of the arena to come down.
“It caught me real off guard,” she said. “He’s fine.”
In the aftermath, Chris Kochain’s cherry picker wound up off-kilter.
When the massive steel structure came down, it struck the cherry picker, nearly knocking it over. It was a close call, but no one was hurt.
Years of memories for Pittsburghers, now a pile of metal.
“My grandfather, Bill Quinn, Sr. worked on that arch,” said Denny Quinn, of Scott Township. “It’s just a symbol of everything they do in this town. It’s well done.”
Once all the dust settles from the demolition and the debris is removed, they’ll put parking lots in and eventually begin the redevelopment of the Lower Hill District.
The arena may be best known for being the former home of the Pittsburgh Penguins. It opened its doors in 1961.