Smithfield Street Bridge

Coordinates: 40°26′5″N 80°0′8″W / 40.43472°N 80.00222°W / 40.43472; -80.00222
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Smithfield Street Bridge
Smithfield Street Bridge
Coordinates40°26′5″N 80°0′8″W / 40.43472°N 80.00222°W / 40.43472; -80.00222
Carries4 lanes of roadway
2 pedestrian walkways
CrossesMonongahela River
LocalePittsburgh, Pennsylvania
DesignLenticular truss bridge
Total length1,184 feet (361 m)
Longest span2 spans, 360 feet (110 m) each
Clearance below42.5 feet (13.0 m)
OpenedMarch 19, 1883
Smithfield Street Bridge
Area1 acre (0.40 ha)
ArchitectGustav Lindenthal
Architectural styleRomanesque, Pauli truss
NRHP reference No.74001745[1]
Significant dates
Added to NRHPMarch 21, 1974
Designated NHLMay 11, 1976[4]
Designated CPHSFebruary 22, 1977[2]
Designated PHLF1970[3]

The Smithfield Street Bridge is a lenticular truss bridge crossing the Monongahela River in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA.

The bridge was designed by Gustav Lindenthal, the engineer who later designed the Hell Gate Bridge in New York City. The Smithfield Street Bridge was built between 1881 and 1883, opening for traffic on March 19, 1883.[citation needed] It was widened in 1889 and widened again in 1911. The bridge has been designated a National Historic Civil Engineering Landmark, a National Historic Landmark, and has a Historic Landmark Plaque from the Pittsburgh History and Landmarks Foundation.


The present bridge is the third bridge at the site. It remains the second oldest steel bridge in the United States.[citation needed] In 1818, a wooden bridge was built across the Monongahela by Louis Wernwag at the cost of $102,000. This bridge was destroyed in Pittsburgh's Great Fire of 1845. The second bridge on the site was a wire rope suspension bridge built by John A. Roebling. Increases in bridge traffic and river traffic eventually made the lightly built bridge with eight short spans inadequate. The Lindenthal bridge was built in its place, using the Roebling bridge's stone masonry piers.

The Smithfield Street Bridge is the penultimate of the many bridges which span the Monongahela before the river joins with the Allegheny River to form the Ohio River at Downtown Pittsburgh. Only the Fort Pitt Bridge is farther downstream.

The bridge also served the Pittsburgh Railways streetcar system with lines coming from the Mt. Washington Transit Tunnel and from Carson Street, crossing the bridge and continuing into downtown along Grant Street and Smithfield Street, returning to the bridge via Wood Street or Grant Street. The tracks occupied the eastern half of the bridge. The streetcar line was abandoned in July 1985, when the streetcars were diverted to the Panhandle Bridge and the new light rail subway, on July 7.[5] The last day of streetcar service on downtown Pittsburgh streets and over the Smithfield Street Bridge was July 6, 1985, although the final crossing of the bridge by a streetcar did not take place until 1:40 a.m. on July 7.[6] The former streetcar right-of-way was converted into a paved roadway for northbound traffic.

The bridge was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on March 21, 1974. Two years later, on May 11, 1976, it was designated a National Historic Landmark.[4]

The bridge's short clearance from the river and its deteriorated condition convinced PennDOT officials to demolish and replace it with a modern bridge. Officials considered lobbying by the Pittsburgh History and Landmarks Foundation on preserving the bridge. In 1994–1995 the bridge was rehabilitated with a new deck, a colorful paint scheme, and architectural lighting. The abandoned rail lines became an extra traffic lane, and a light-controlled bus lane was added during peak traffic hours.[7] The bridge also has the distinction of being the bridge most heavily walked by pedestrians, mostly commuters who park at Station Square.

The bridge connects Smithfield Street in Downtown Pittsburgh with Station Square.


Popular culture[edit]

The bridge is featured in the 1993 Bruce Willis film Striking Distance, the opening scene of the 1983 film Flashdance and the 2010 rap video Black and Yellow.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. July 9, 2010.
  2. ^ "Local Historic Designations". Pittsburgh: Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation. Retrieved August 9, 2011.
  3. ^ Historic Landmark Plaques 1968-2009 (PDF). Pittsburgh, PA: Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation. 2010. Retrieved July 2, 2010.
  4. ^ a b "Listing of National Historic Landmarks by State: Pennsylvania" (PDF). National Park Service. p. 5. Retrieved June 29, 2014.
  5. ^ Grata, Joe (July 7, 1985). "PennDot ponders future use of Smithfield Street Bridge". The Pittsburgh Press. p. A9.
  6. ^ Sellin, M.V. and Morgan, S.J. (May 1986). "Pittsburgh light rail progress". Modern Tramway and Light Rail Transit, p. 164. UK: Ian Allan Publishing.
  7. ^ Carquinez Associates, U.S. Urban Rail Transit Lines Opened From 1980 Archived 2005-11-11 at the Wayback Machine
  8. ^ "Smithfield Street Bridge | Historic Pittsburgh". Retrieved October 30, 2017.

External links[edit]