Konigsburg is for wimps
June 12, 2003 6:42 AM   Subscribe

Bridges and Tunnels of Allegheny County. They hold bridge conventions here in Pittsburgh because there are around 2000 bridges in and around the city. Take the tours to see some of them. My favorites: Westinghouse, Smithfield St., East St., Panther Hollow.
posted by tss (14 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Nice post, tss. Communities all too frequently forget that their infrastructure can also become, over time, something greater - not art, necessarily, but rather a kind of time-capsule of excellence (or flat our failure) of design. Too many towns and cities in America (my own included) only realize how much they loved the elegant lines of a certain bridge too late, when its being torn down and parts sold off as souvenirs.

Also, I love saying the word Monongahela.
posted by anastasiav at 7:10 AM on June 12, 2003

Great post, tss !
posted by plep at 7:12 AM on June 12, 2003

Cheers, tss, glad plep inspired you to post this. I got into the tunnels section, checked out the converted railway tunnel on the Montour Trail system ... hope I find myself in Pittsburgh sometime with access to a bike!
posted by carter at 7:39 AM on June 12, 2003


Great post, nice site.
posted by tomplus2 at 7:41 AM on June 12, 2003

In Philadelphia, I've been dreaming of Pittsburgh as a magical place.
posted by creamed corn at 7:44 AM on June 12, 2003

The Smithfield Street bridge is one of the first things I see in the morning and last things I see at night, when I'm in the city. It's a glorious piece of architecture to behold late at night, when there's little traffic and the span is gently lit and seems to almost float above the water, giving off a softly reflected golden glow. The Ft. Pitt/Ft. Duquesne are massive, but not nearly so impressive.

But I do love the Hulton Bridge -- the picture doesn't do it justice. The bridge is vibrant lavender purple. It shimmers like a prom dress. Perhaps its because I don't traverse it frequently, but it's almost a transcendant experience to drive across a shiny purple bridge.

Also, I love saying the word Monongahela.

Ah, but how do you say it? I've found that someone's pronunciation of Monongahela (and Carnegie) is one of the greatest indicators of whether or not they're a native of the Pittsburgh area.
posted by Dreama at 7:46 AM on June 12, 2003

Mah-nahn-guh-hElla. Car-nAy-gee.

Carter, if you're traveling to Pittsburgh from the east, you wanna loop around to the west and come in via the Fort Pitt Tunnel, "the best way to enter an American city." (Oh, and give yourself plenty of travel time -- the tunnel is closed for construction until about August or so.)

But can you ever truly enter an American city? Truly?
posted by eatitlive at 8:05 AM on June 12, 2003

Thanks for the post, tss....I was in Pittsburgh recently, for the first time, and I was struck by the beauty of the place in its spring glory, bridges and all. And, yes, I learned to say Carnegie the right way!
posted by poorhouse at 8:11 AM on June 12, 2003

Thanks everyone, esp. plep!

creamed corn: I did my undergrad in Philly and I can say that Pittsburgh is a different city indeed! For starters, the same hilly topography that gives rise to these wonderful bridges also makes it much more difficult (IMHO) for the sprawl you see in other cities to grow. You should come out and visit--if you know where the speed traps are, you can do the turnpike in a little over five hours :-)
posted by tss at 8:56 AM on June 12, 2003

Hey, tss, is the danged construction on the Smithfield Street bridge done yet? Or, for that matter, construction on the Fort Pitt Tunnel?
posted by kgasmart at 10:23 AM on June 12, 2003

Pgh is a GREAT and magical place to visit. Living there is (was) a different story, but if you can tolerate many of the idiosyncracies (and if you're not young and single) it's wonderful.

As for the Carnegie/Monongahela thing, I've resigned myself to pronouncing both of those differently each time I say them. For starters, I'm from West Virginia, where there's a Monongalia County (pronounced Mon-un-GAY-lee-yuh, with slight variations for your accent), which is close enough to Monongahela to mess me up. (Plus, the Monongahela River flows through Monongalia County.)

Then, I moved to Pittsburgh and started working for the Carnegie Library, which required me to say "Carnegie" many times each day. When I said "Carnegie Library" I pronounced it the way everyone from Pittsburgh does (see above), but when I said "Andrew Carnegie" I pronounced it the way everyone else does. Once, during a telephone reference question with someone calling from out of town, I gave both pronounciations in the same sentence and didn't realize it until the caller laughed at me.

Now that I'm in DC, I think I've started pronouncing it the "correct" (non-Pittsburghese) way each time I say it, but I try to avoid it as much as possible.

Thanks for the links! Also be sure to read about the Bridge to Nowhere (screwy link, sorry).
posted by arco at 10:31 AM on June 12, 2003

I grew up a stone's throw from the Washington Crossing bridge myself. Thanks for reminding me of this lovely site.
posted by jhiggy at 12:51 PM on June 12, 2003

On my last visit to downtown Pittsburgh I was at a certain street level location, looked up and remember being astounded at the many bridges and ramps soaring every which way above me.

come in via the Fort Pitt Tunnel, "the best way to enter an American city."

Thanks for the reminder. I seem to remember that it's especially stunning when the sun is low, close to sunset.
posted by SteveL669 at 4:24 PM on June 12, 2003

is the danged construction on the Smithfield Street bridge done yet? Or, for that matter, construction on the Fort Pitt Tunnel?

Smithfield Street is open without restrictions if you can get to it. Fort Pitt construction is slated to end in September, I think, but the contractors are trying to get the "done early" bonus on this phase too, so maybe August. Or at least one can hope.
posted by Dreama at 8:30 PM on June 12, 2003

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