Monongahela Incline

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Monongahela Incline
the sign on the terminal showing Monongahela Incline 1870
The lower terminal and a car descending
Lower station of the Monongahela Incline
OwnerPittsburgh Regional Transit
LocalePittsburgh, Pennsylvania, U.S.
  • West Carson Street
  • Grandview Avenue
OpenedMay 28, 1870 (1870-05-28)
Line length635 feet (194 m)
Track gauge5 ft (1,524 mm)
Operating speed6 mph (9.7 km/h)
Monongahela Incline
Monongahela Incline is located in Pittsburgh
Monongahela Incline
Monongahela Incline is located in Pennsylvania
Monongahela Incline
Monongahela Incline is located in the United States
Monongahela Incline
LocationGrandview Avenue at Wyoming Avenue,
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Coordinates40°25′55″N 80°0′20″W / 40.43194°N 80.00556°W / 40.43194; -80.00556Coordinates: 40°25′55″N 80°0′20″W / 40.43194°N 80.00556°W / 40.43194; -80.00556
Area1 acre (0.40 ha)
ArchitectJohn Endres and Caroline Endres
Architectural styleLate 19th and 20th Century Revivals, Second Renaissance Revival
NRHP reference No.74001742[1]
Significant dates
Added to NRHPJune 25, 1974
Designated CPHSMarch 15, 1974[2]
Designated PHLF1970[3]

The Monongahela Incline is a funicular located near the Smithfield Street Bridge in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Designed and built by Prussian-born engineer John Endres in 1870, it is the oldest continuously operating funicular in the United States.

It is one of two surviving inclines in Pittsburgh (the other is the nearby Duquesne Incline) from the original 17 passenger-carrying inclines built there starting in the late 19th century. Its lower station is across the street from what is now the Station Square shopping complex. It is easily accessible from the light rail system at the Station Square station.

It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1974. In 1977 both inclines were designated as Historic Mechanical Engineering Landmarks by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME).[4]


Monongahela Incline (right) and the Monongahela Freight Incline (left) in 1905. The latter has been demolished.

Pittsburgh's expanding industrial base in 1860 created a huge demand for labor, attracting mainly German immigrants to the region. This created a serious housing shortage as industry occupied most of the flat lands adjacent to the South Side of the Monongahela River, leaving only the steep, surrounding hillsides of Mt. Washington, or "Coal Hill", for housing. However, travel between the "hill" and other areas was hindered by the steep terrain and a lack of public transport or good roads.

The predominantly German immigrants who settled on Mt. Washington, remembering the seilbahns (cable cars) of their former country, proposed construction of inclines along the face of Coal Hill.

Prussian-born engineer John Endres of Cincinnati, Ohio was commissioned to design the Monongahela Incline, which opened on May 28, 1870, as the first for passenger use. On the first day, some 944 fares were collected. But the second day, 4,174 people rode the incline and it became a success.[5] He was assisted by his American-born daughter, Caroline Endres, who was educated in Europe and became one of the first women engineers in this country.[6][7][8][9]

Earlier inclines were used to transport coal in the Pittsburgh area, including the Kirk Lewis incline on Mt. Washington, and the Ormsby mine gravity plane in nearby Birmingham, which was later annexed to the city of Pittsburgh.

The Monongahela Incline was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1974. Both it and the Duquesne Incline were recognized in 1977 as Historic Mechanical Engineering Landmarks by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME).[5] That year the two inclines served a total of more than one million commuters and tourists annually.[5]

In the 21st century, the Monongahela Incline is operated by the Pittsburgh Regional Transit, which operates the rest of Allegheny County's transit system. Transfers can be made between the incline, light rail, and buses free of additional charge.[10] It serves both commuters and visitors, and is a popular tourist attraction.

On February 2, 2019, flooding caused by a broken city water main forced the incline to close.[11] The extensive repairs took time to complete, but the incline reopened 13 weeks later on May 10, 2019.[12]


  • Length: 635 feet (194 m)
  • Elevation: 369.39 feet (112.59 m)
  • Grade: 35 degrees, 35 minutes
  • Gauge: 5 ft (1,524 mm) broad gauge
  • Speed: 6 mph (9.7 km/h)
  • Passenger Capacity: 23 per car
  • Opened: May 28, 1870
  • Renovated: 1882 (with steel structure)
  • Original steam power replaced with electricity: 1935
  • Renovated: 1982-83 new track structure, cars and stations
  • Renovated: 1994 upper, lower stations, restored cars, replaced electric motors and controls[4]
  • Renovated: 2022-23 upper, lower stations, mechanical controls, electrical system, exterior track lighting[13]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ "National Register Information System – (#74001742)". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. July 9, 2010.
  2. ^ "Local Historic Designations". Pittsburgh: Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation. Retrieved 2011-08-09.
  3. ^ "Historic Landmark Plaques 1968-2009" (PDF). Pittsburgh History and Landmarks Foundation. 2010. Retrieved 2011-08-05.
  4. ^ a b "Monongahela and Duquesne Inclines" (PDF). ASME. 11 May 1977.
  5. ^ a b c Leherr, Dave (7 May 1977). "Inclines Rise to National Landmarks". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. p. 9.
  6. ^ "Monongahela and Duquesne Inclines" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2009-08-16. Retrieved 2009-05-21.
  7. ^ "Legendary Ladies" (PDF). Pennsylvania Commission for Women. Retrieved 21 March 2006.
  8. ^ Fox, Arthur B. "The incline builders: Forgotten engineers of Pittsburgh." Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania: Tribune Review, retrieved online at " Bridges and Tunnels of Allegheny County and Pittsburgh, PA," May 17, 2019.
  9. ^ Caroline Enders and John Enders (biographical sketch with photos), in The Pittsburgh Press, December 4, 1955, p. 167. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania: The Pittsburgh Press (available via; subscription required).
  10. ^ " - Inclines". Retrieved 2019-10-07.
  11. ^ "Port Authority making progress to repair flooded Monongahela Incline station". Retrieved April 16, 2019.
  12. ^ "Monongahela Incline Closed Briefly Friday Morning". Retrieved May 21, 2019.
  13. ^ "StackPath". Retrieved 2023-03-06.

External links[edit]