Side has perhaps the most interesting history of any of the many geographical
entities that comprise the City of Pittsburgh and its environs.
It all started
in 1820 when the first bridge was built connecting Allegheny City (Now
the North Side) with Pittsburgh. From that point on, Allegheny City
grew at a rapid pace. By 1880, beautiful mansions lined Ridge Avenue,
while down on General Robinson Street a few so-called "sporting houses"
were in evidence. From local conversations it appeared that nobody ever
visited these houses, but they did seem to survive quite well.
By 1884 Allegheny
City was inhabited by a mixture of ethnic cultures. The Scotch and Irish
settled to the west towards Manchester while the English gathered within
the Commons in the center of Allegheny City. The Germans chose to settle
in the east of Allegheny City in what became known as Dutchtown.
It was in
this atmosphere that George Rahn decided to strike out on his own and
leave the employ of his uncle, who operated a broom factory on Spring
Garden Avenue, to become the proprietor of a saloon at 900 East Ohio
City continued to grow and prosper, so did George Rahn's business. By
the turn of the century, George was able to sell his saloon business
and purchase the Farmers and Drovers Hotel at 539 Second Street (now
Suisomn Street) in the most fashionable section of Dutchtown. The Farmers
and Drovers Hotel (now the Allegheny Room at Max's) was a popular overnight
stop for the drivers of the wagons coming in from the north with produce
and wares for sale in the busy market houses of Allegheny City and Pittsburgh.
business proved good to George and in 1903 the Hotel Rahn was erected
on a vacant lot on the corner of Middle and Second Streets. This building
now houses the main bar and dining room at Max's. From the elegant hand
carved back bar with the beveled glass mirrors that was brought to Allegheny
City from the St. Louis Exposition to the white ceramic tile walls and
five colored patterned tile floors, no cost was spared. Brass chandeliers
that featured a combination of both gas and electric lamps provided
the illumination for the bar and dining rooms. Solid oak ice boxes stocked
the many beers produced by Allegheny City breweries. As popular then
as it still is today is the Dutch Club Beer brewed by the Eberhardt
and Ober Brewing Company on Troy Hill Road.
Katherine's good food became well known throughout all of Allegheny
City. The smell of fresh baked apple pies coming from the second floor
kitchen greeted the early riser at the Hotel Rahn. A dumbwaiter from
the second floor kitchen carried the popular "Dutch" influenced meals
to the dining rooms on the first floor of the hotel.
In 1907, after
a bitter fight, the City of Pittsburgh annexed Allegheny City and the
grandeur of Allegheny began to diminish. Seven years later, on New Years
Eve in 1914, tragedy struck the Rahn Family. A guest at the hotel, having
too much to drink, became rowdy and George Rahn was forced to expel
this inebriated patron from the bar. In the process of doing so, one
of the swinging doors at the entrance hit George on the head, causing
a severe concussion. George died New Years Day at Allegheny General
Hospital at the age of 61. A cousin, Harry Rahn, helped Katherine operate
the hotel until her death in 1920. The Rahn estate was liquidated and
the hotel sold.
the former Rahn Hotel was a well known speakeasy. An outside visitor
to the North Side during prohibition would have been surprised because
beer, wine and bootleg liquor flowed so well here. After prohibition
the bar and hotel were operated by Joe Miller whose grandon, Gene Miller,
operates an insurancy agency on East Ohio Street. In 1944, the business
was sold to Charley Niederst, who operated the bar and hotel until 1970
when the business was purchased by Jennie and Lou Lardo. In 1977, the
business and real estate was purchased by the present owners who changed
the name to Max and Erma's Allegheny Tavern. A dispute with the large
food chain from Columbus, Ohio, over the name caused the name Erma to
be dropped several years ago.
work was done on the physical plant to restore it to the grandeur of
earlier years. We invite you to browse through the dining rooms and
Ratskeller. In the Allegheny Room is a color lithograph of the Eberhardt
and Ober Brewery. The framed opening in the ceiling of Erma's Dining
Room is all that remains of the dumbwaiter that carried the food from
the second floor kitchens to the first floor dining rooms. The ice box
in the bar has been keeping beer cold since 1903 and the wooden beer
cooler in the basement has stored the draft beer that flows from the
taps at the main bar for over eighty years. The wine cooler in the Allegheny
Room and the cast iron stove in the Ratskeller once graced the second
floor kitchen at the Hotel Rahn. A picture of the bar taken shortly
after the hotel opened in 1903 is displayed in our main dining area.
We thank Eddie and Doe Rahn for presenting Max's with this picture.
We hope that
your experience at Max's reflects the same hospitality that has been
a part of this "Neighborhood gathering place" since the turn of the