Marker Logo HMdb.org THE HISTORICAL
MARKER DATABASE
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Pittsburgh in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)
 

Smithfield Street Bridge

 
 
Smithfield Street Bridge Marker image. Click for full size.
By Mike Wintermantel, November 8, 2016
1. Smithfield Street Bridge Marker
Inscription. The Smithfield Street Bridge is America's oldest steel truss bridge and an International Engineering Landmark, as well as on the National Register as a Historic Landmark.

Gustav Lindenthal, the "Dean of Bridge Engineers," designed the bridge in 1881. Recognizing the importance of the span to Pittsburgh's urban landscape, Lindenthal selected the elegant lens-shaped or lenticular truss design for its graceful symmetry. The innovative use of structural steel-instead of iron-symbolized Pittsburgh's emerging new steel technology.

The existing bridge has seen many changes during a century of service. First built as a single-road span with Victorian portals at both ends, it was widened on the upstream side in 1891 and again in 1911 to accommodate two trolley tracks. Four years later the bridge was beautified with new portals and small sculptures of Pittsburgh industrial workers. To lighten the weight of the structure in 1934, new aluminum decking and railings were installed. This was the first structural use of aluminum in bridge construction.

The first "Monongahela Bridge" crossed the river at this site in 1818, but was washed away by a flood in 1832. Its replacement, another wooden covered bridge, was destroyed by the great Pittsburgh fire of 1845. The brilliant engineer John Roebling next built a flexible
Smithfield Street Bridge Marker image. Click for full size.
By Mike Wintermantel, November 8, 2016
2. Smithfield Street Bridge Marker
Smithfield Street Bridge in background
wire-suspension bridge to carry the heavy traffic, until the current Smithfield Street Bridge replacement it. Over the early bridges crossed covered wagons heading west to the frontier, and countless wagons full of coal mined from Mt. Washington-coal needed to heat the homes and fire the furnaces of industrial Pittsburgh.

In 1994, this bridge was restored and painted with the original colors used in 1915. Today it symbolizes Pittsburgh's historic creativity in bridge design and steel construction.
 
Erected by Steel Heritage Industry Corporation, Pennsylvania DCNR, City of Pittsburgh, Allegheny Health Network.
 
Location. 40° 26.184′ N, 80° 0.05′ W. Marker is in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, in Allegheny County. Marker can be reached from the intersection of Fort Pitt Boulevard and Smithfield Street. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Pittsburgh PA 15219, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Bethel A.M.E. Church (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); University of Pittsburgh Log Schoolhouse (about 600 feet away); Founding of the Ironworkers Union (about 600 feet away); Monongahela Wharf Commercial Buildings
Smithfield Street Bridge Marker image. Click for full size.
By Mike Wintermantel, November 8, 2016
3. Smithfield Street Bridge Marker
lower left photos
photo 1

In 1832 Russell Smith painted "Monongahela Bridge after it had been damaged by a freshet". The Toll House privately operated bridge stood on the Pittsburgh side.

photo 2
(about 700 feet away); Union Trust Company-Lawyers Title Building (approx. 0.2 miles away); United Steelworkers of America (approx. 0.2 miles away); Arrott Building (approx. 0.2 miles away); John Scull (approx. mile away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Pittsburgh.
 
Also see . . .  Smithfield Street Bridge. Brookline Connection (Submitted on November 8, 2016, by Mike Wintermantel of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.) 
 
Categories. Bridges & ViaductsIndustry & Commerce
 
Smithfield Street Bridge Marker image. Click for full size.
By Mike Wintermantel, November 8, 2016
4. Smithfield Street Bridge Marker
lower right photos
A Victorian portal at each end of the structure graced the single-road span when it opened in 1883.

Sculptures of a coal miner and a machinist were added to beautify the bridge in 1915. Two sets of castings can be found on the entrance portals at each end of the bridge.
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on November 8, 2016. This page originally submitted on November 8, 2016, by Mike Wintermantel of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. This page has been viewed 114 times since then and 29 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4. submitted on November 8, 2016, by Mike Wintermantel of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
Paid Advertisement