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Beechwood Blvd Bridge
Pittsburgh (Greenfield - Schenley Park)
USGS 7.5" Topo Quad - UTM Coordinates:
Pittsburgh East - Zone 17; 0590 4475
motor vehicles, Beechwood Blvd
-- Greenfield Rd; Pocusset Dr (Schenley Park)
-- Beechwood Blvd (Greenfield)
-- Penn Lincoln Parkway East [I-376, US22, US30]
TYPE OF CONSTRUCTION / DESIGN:
concrete open spandrel deck arch
LENGTH OF MAIN SPAN:
TOTAL LENGTH (including longest elevated ramp):
HEIGHT OF DECK:
YEAR ERECTED / ENGINEER:
1922, Charles M. Repert, chief engineer
Stanley L. Roush, architect
City of Pittsburgh
If it's possible to be both beautiful and disgraceful, here is a concrete example.
The fourth bridge to enter Schenley Park was completed in 1923 and provided a grand entrance over a branch of Four Mile Run. Stanley Roush, architect for the City of Pittsburgh, once again added a touch of style as he had on the Smithfield St Bridge portals, the Mount Washington Roadway Bridge [gone], the reconstruction of the Courthouse entrance and other projects. Atop the basic arch of engineer Repert, Roush added ornamental bronze and cut Indiana limestone: sculptured lampposts, pedestals, urns and inscribed pylons. The great white arch and its decorations shone bright white above Saline St which once snaked through the tree-filled valley.
Visitors from the nearby areas south of the Park had no easy access. Even today, Pocusset St is narrow and difficult once it leaves the Squirrel Hill neighborhood. Beechwood Blvd was created from a collection of streets widened into a fashionable, upscale carriageway in the early days of the automobile. It traces the ridge line of Squirrel Hill and curls toward Greenfield at the edge of the ravine opposite the Park. An extension of the Boulevard required the construction of this bridge which is alternately referred to by names which reference the road it carries and the neighborhood it links.
The southern portions of Squirrel Hill were well developed and established when the Penn Lincoln Parkway was being planned in the 1930s. And considering the lure of another wooded ravine at Nine Mile Run immediately opposite the Saline St ravine, the valley below the Greenfield Bridge was an enticing choice. By 1953, the Squirrel Hill Tunnel completed the first eight-mile section of the new highway to the East.
The bridge which had most often been viewed from a distant approach or from its ornate deck was now on display to thousands of vehicles daily. Travelling westward into Pittsburgh, it was a sort of Gateway Arch standing just before the final turn which gave the first grand view of the Pittsburgh skyline. Here too, the fiercesome Jones and Laughlin Steel Eliza Furnace reminded visitors that they were in Pittsburgh.
But by the 1970s, the concrete arch was decaying rapidly. Wooden frames, and later nets, were attached to catch chunks which were falling onto Parkway traffic. In 1980, the structure was substantially overhauled and patched. Most of the decorative features of the deck were removed. Some may be viewed on the grounds of Station Square -- in what amounts to a sort of a zoo for old architectural relics. Arcing chainlink fences and jersey barriers now line the bridge deck; only the pylons and a few of the urns remain to hint at what the bridge once was.
Today there are many signs of cracks and leaks all over the main arch and its abutments. Nets wrap the arch and several of the spandrel columns. The abutments are favorite targets for graffitti. What was once a grand statement is now a crumbling wisecrack. Yet even in this state of decay, the bridge is more graceful than most anything which would replace it.
Beechwood Boulevard Bridge|
Erected AD 1922
|William A. Magee, Mayor|
|Charles A. Finley, Director Public Works|
|C. M. Reppert, Chief Engineer - - J. D. Stevenson, Asst. Chief Engineer|
|E. M. Wichert Co., Contractors|
E. M. Wichert is also noted for the Wichert truss featured on the Homestead High Level Bridge over the Monongahela River and the Charles Anderson Bridge carrying the Blvd of the Allies ionto Schenley Park.
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