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photo of bridge

View toward downtown

photo of bridge

Elevation drawing looking downstream

More detail photos of present day

More historical pictures

OFFICIAL NAME:
Smithfield Street Bridge

OTHER DESIGNATION:


LOCATION:
Pittsburgh

USGS 7.5" Topo Quad - UTM Coordinates:
Pittsburgh West - Zone 17; 0584 4476
CARRIES:
Smithfield Street, SR3027

Pedestrian walkways on outside of both upstream and downstream trusses

BETWEEN:
-- Fort Pitt Blvd on right descending bank of Monongahela River
-- Carson St (West Carson and East Carson split is marked at this intersection.) on left descending bank of Monongahela River

CROSSES:
-- (RDB to LDB) Penn Lincoln Parkway [I-376]; Monongahela Wharf; Monongahela River at mile 0.7; CSX railroad; Station Square access roads
TYPE OF CONSTRUCTION / DESIGN:
main spans: steel lenticular truss (with some wrought iron members)

pins and eyebars, riveted plates and lattice members
piers are rusticated stone

LENGTH OF MAIN SPAN:
2 main spans, 360 ft each (344 ft clear)

TOTAL LENGTH (including longest elevated ramp):
1,184 ft

HEIGHT OF DECK:
42.5 ft
Emsworth Dam normal pool level 710 ft

YEAR ERECTED / ENGINEER:
1881-83; Gustav Lindenthal, engineer
upstream side added 1889; widened to match downstream span 1911
ADDITIONAL INFO:
The current structure is the third bridge on this site. Lewis Wernwag built the covered wooden Monongahela Bridge in 1818, the first river crossing bridge in Pittsburgh. It replaced a ferry and cost $102,000. It was destroyed in the Great Fire of 1845 and replaced the following year.
Drawing of 1818 bridge

John Roebling, creator of the Brooklyn Bridge, designed a wire rope suspension bridge which used the 6 piers and abutments from the earlier bridge (8 spans, 188 ft each). Roebling's first highway bridge operated as a toll bridge. Increasing live loads from added traffic resulted in excessive deflections and swaying, leading to its closure and replacement with current structure.
Drawing of 1845 bridge : Detail of pier of 1845 bridge

The current bridge included double-tracked rails for horse-drawn streetcar on its downstream deck. The City of Pittsburgh purchased the bridge in 1896 for $1,152,583 and removed the tolls. The original cast-iron portals (originally on the downstream side only) were replaced with the present steel design by City Architect, Stanley L. Roush, 1915. These portals include ornaments in the form of a miner holding a pick and a man holding a gear. They also include the City of Pittsburgh coat of arms. The entire superstructure was painted aluminum grey for most of its life.

The downstream deck was reconstructed using aluminum in 1933 (reducing the dead load by 675 metric tons) and again in 1967 (reducing the dead load a further 97 metric tons). Ownership was transferred to the Highway Department of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania in 1958. The top arcs of downstream trusses were outlined with lights in 1984 as part of the Station Square project.

The upstream side was used for double-tracked trolley lines exclusively until July 1985 when this traffic was moved to the Panhandle Bridge upstream as part of the Subway "T" light rail system.

As part of a complete refurbishment in 1994-95, the tracks were removed. Mackin Engineering (designer) and Dick Enterprises (contractor) restored and upgraded the structure. The entire deck was replaced and motor traffic was given two lanes southbound (downstream side) and a new single lane northbound (upstream). The original 3-color paint scheme specified by Lindenthal was restored and the six copper finials which had been removed due to decay were replaced atop the portals.

Approaches include several riveted plate girder simple spans plus a short camelback Warren truss near Station Square.

Gustav Lindenthal also designed Pittsburgh's Allegheny Bridge at Seventh Street (1884-1925) and Hell Gate Bridge in New York City among others.

Oldest river bridge in Allegheny County; Oldest through-truss bridge in U.S.; Longest of its type in U.S.; National Historic Civil Engineering Landmark; Pittsburgh History and Landmarks registry; National Register of Historic Places; Federal Highway Department, U.S. Department of Transportation 1996 Excellence in Highway Design Award for Historic Preservation.

view page -- Historic American Engineering Record (PA-2) article.



Plaques mounted on the left side of the south portal:

PITTSBURGH
OUTSTANDING ACHIEVEMENT AWARD
1994

American Society of Civil Engineers logo

SMITHFIELD STREET BRIDGE
REHABILITATION PROJECT

PENNSYLVANIA DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION
DISTRICT 11-0

PRESENTED BY THE PITTSBURGH SECTION, ASCE

CENTENNIAL
SMITHFIELD STREET BRIDGE
American Society of Civil Engineers logo

1883-1983

PRESENTED BY THE PITTSBURGH SECTION, ASCE

SMITHFIELD STREET BRIDGE
HAS BEEN DESIGNATED A
-------------------------------------------
NATIONAL
HISTORIC LANDMARK
-------------------------------------------
THIS SITE POSSESSES NATIONAL SIGNIFIGANCE
IN COMMEMORATING THE HISTORY OF THE
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

1980

HERITAGE CONSERVATION AND RECREATION SERVICE
UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR

NATIONAL HISTORIC
CIVIL ENGINEERING LANDMARK

American Society of Civil Engineers logo

SMITHFIELD STREET BRIDGE

ASCE 1976

HISTORIC
LANDMARK

SMITHFIELD STREET BRIDGE
1881-1889
GUSTAV LINDENTHAL, ENGINEER

PITTSBURGH HISTORY &
LANDMARKS FOUNDATION



FIELD CHECKED:
30-Oct-2000

INFO SOURCES:
USACE Monongahela River Nav. Charts, Lorant: "Pittsburgh: The Story of an American City," Kidney: "Pittsburgh's Landmark Architecture," Gay and Evert: "Discovering Pittsburgh's Sculpture," FHWA USDOT website.


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Introduction -- Nearby Structures


Page created:
Last modified: 05-Dec-2000

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