“Learning is it’s own exceeding great reward.”
If you ever have the chance to visit Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania I would recommend that you stay in one of the hotels on the south bank of the Monongahela River located in a place called “Station Square”. The views of the incredible Pittsburgh skyline rising up above the brown Monongahela river with its bridges and barges is amazing to say the least. There are all kinds of shops, stores and restaurants in Station Square and a clean, convenient subway / trolley (known locally as the “T”) that provides easy access to the bustling downtown area know as the Golden triangle.
Although there are many reasons to visit Pittsburgh as a tourist such as professional baseball and football, the Pirates and Steelers respectively there are also many historical gems you can find if you look for them. Most people know about Fort Pitt, and the Carnegie Museum on the campus of the University of Pittsburgh but my favorite attractions are two relics of an era gone by, across the Monongahela River from the skyscrapers on Mount Washington.
These two anomalies are the Monongahela and Duquesne Inclines. Back in the mid and late 1800s there were scores of German immigrants living on Mount Washington who would make the trek down the bluff each day to work in the mills, rail yards and coal barges of the Steel City. If you look at Mount Washington today from Station Square, you will understand how these immigrants got tired of this daily slog and proposed the construction of several “inclines” like they had back in Germany so that they could easily get up and down the mountain.
Originally there were as many as 17 of these Inclines or “Funiculars” which is their technical name meaning inclined plane or cliff railway. The two remaining inclines are owned and operated by the Port Authority of Allegheny County. The inclines are rustic looking conveyances that look somewhat like a skiing tram on the outside and an old trolley car on the inside. Both of the remaining inclines have their own station buildings at the bottom and top of Mount Washington. Each station has two cars and two sets of tracks which are side by side.
These pairs of trolley like cars are connected by a cable and as one car moves up, the other car on the adjacent track moves down. The ascending and descending cars counter balance each other. Riding these inclines for me was as unique an experience as riding the strange elevator to the top of the Gateway Arch in St. Louis, Missouri.
Of the two inclines, the Monongahela incline is the most accessible as it is an easy walk from Station Square. This incline is the oldest and steepest incline in the USA as it was built in 1870. It is 635 feet long, travels at 6 miles per hour along a 35 degree incline and can hold 23 passengers per car. As this historic piece of engineering climbs the track, the views of the city get better and better with each foot of elevation gained.
While you have to drive a few miles west on East Carson Street, in my opinion, the Duquesne Incline offers the best views of the city. The views of the city from the top of this incline are absolutely stunning.
From the top of the Duquesne incline I recommend a short walk west down Grandview Ave to “Point of View” park. Here there is a bronze statue commemorating the meeting near this place between George Washington and Seneca leader Guyasuta. The real attraction here however is the most amazing view of Pittsburgh’s incredible skyline and the confluence of the Allegheny and Monongahela Rivers where at the “Point” they merge and together become the mighty Ohio.
Standing at this place From left to right you will see the USS Requin submarine at the Carnegie Science Center, Heinz Field – home of the Pittsburgh Steelers, the yellow “Three Sisters” bridges and many others on the Allegheny river, the fountain shooting high in the sky at the very point of the Golden Triangle, gleaming skyscrapers such as PPG Place, BNY Mellon Center and the black US Steel Tower, Coal barges oozing up and down the rivers along with all kinds of other water craft, and the shops of Station Square and the historic old Smithfield Street bridge which connects downtown to station square by spanning the Monongahela river.
Of all the places I have traveled to, few vistas can compare to the one described above. As the lights come on in Pittsburgh and the sun sets, it is that much more incredible.