SLB Photography
Smithfield Street Bridge

Smithfield Street Bridge

Pittsburgh is known as the city of bridges; and for good reason! As of 2006, it’s said that Pittsburgh has 446 bridges, and those are just ones with piers and stands. My favorite bridge is the Smithfield Street Bridge. It’s the most intricate bridge in the city. I’ve always loved the architecture of this bridge. It is a fascinating structure. The bridge itself is very detailed and ornately designed. The portal of the bridge shows the Pittsburgh city seal. The portal is also surrounded by 4 posts with spiked balls on top. I’m thinking these are either to keep the birds off, or are lightning posts. Also on the portal posts are men holding pick axes and a gear. Mostly likely this represents the “Steel” city. At night the bridge is lit along the top creating an eye please leading line between Downtown Pittsburgh proper and Station Square. It’s a sight that every Pittsburgher surely knows. A little history of the Smithfield Street Bridge. As it stands now, it is the third rendition of the bridge. Originally, there was a covered wooden bridge that burned in the Pittsburgh great fire of 1845. In 1846 a wire rope suspension bridge was built as a replacement. It was officially named the Smithfield Street Bridge. The name stuck. That particular version of the bridge did not, as vehicular traffic became to much for the bridge to handle. That is when Gustav Lindenthal designed and built the bridge in 1881-83. Lindenthal is the Civil Engineer who is best known for Hell Gate Bridge in NY. The Smithfield Street Bridge opened for traffic in March of 1883. It has been widened twice, once in 1889 and again in 1911. The bridge was preserved and rehabbed in 1994-95. The Smithfield Street Bridge has been designated a National Historic Civic Engineering Landmark, a National Historic Landmark, and has a Historic Landmark Plaque from the Pittsburgh History and Landmarks Foundation.

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