Westminster Bridge

I mentioned in my post on Battersea Bridge that the traffic on the bridge was low, but that this was probably in part due to the fact that I crossed it on Sunday afternoon.  I was so excited about walking all the bridges in London that I walked half of them first thing that Sunday afternoon when I arrived.  The traffic condition on most of the bridges was similar to the Battersea Bridge–not much.  I did pass several other pedestrians as I walked along the Thames River Path to get between the bridges, but the volume of the pedestrian traffic changed significantly when I reached Westminster Bridge.  Crowds of people were crossing the Westminster Bridge, enough that an ice cream truck parked at one end to attract customers from the passersby.


Going back to the mysterious tower under construction next to the St Georges Wharf Apartments (see Lambeth Bridge post and Battersea Bridge post), my favorite view of these buildings was from the Westminster Bridge.  The way they appear in a cluster with other buildings along the river soothes my sense of harmony, as the tower doesn’t stick out so abruptly in this view.  This is one of my favorite things about walking bridges–seeing how the appearance of a particular location can change drastically when viewed from different locations.  The Thames River is particularly good for this as it twists and turns quite a bit as it passes through London.  This causes the incomplete tower to look like it is right next to the other tall building, when in reality they are separated by a fair distance and are on opposite sides of the river (again refer to the Lambeth Bridge post for a different view of these buildings).

Lambeth Bridge

Lambeth Bridge toned down the color schemes a bit by using only two main colors, compared to the three or more colors found on the Vauxhall and Albert bridges (see June 20 and June 16 posts).  Also, the character of the area surrounding Lambeth Bridge changed from that surrounding the bridges I crossed previously.  There was much more of the older, classic London around Lambeth Bridge.  The southern shore combines the old and new.  On the left, looking from the bridge is the historic Lambeth Palace, the site of the Archbishop of Canterbury’s London residence since the 13th century.  (This accounts for the building’s religious appearance.  I had assumed when seeing it in person that it was some kind of church, so when I looked it up from the comfort of home and saw it was a palace I was initially disappointed at my error.)  To the right across the street from the Palace, is a sleek, modern, glass building housing the Parliament View Apartments.  In retrospect, I regret not taking a picture that includes both the Palace and the apartments in one frame.


The views up- and down-river from the bridge correspond to the sites at the southern end of the bridge.  Downriver, the side corresponding to the old Lambeth Palace, the view is dominated by old London architecture particularly the Houses of Parliament.  At the same time the upriver view is dominated by newer architecture, like the Parliament View Apartments upriver from Lambeth Palace.


I would like to add a correction to my post on the Battersea Bridge where I identified the tower under construction, also visible in the Lambeth Bridge upriver photo above, as the Shard.  In the Battersea Bridge post, I identified the building as the Shard because it was the only tower under construction in London on which I could find any information on.  Also, one of the photos labeled as the Shard looked similar to this building.  However the Shard is closer to central London.  Today I learned that the complex next to the tower is the St Georges Wharf Apartments, which are rented by the night.  Based on the style of architecture of these buildings and the tower and their proximity to each other, I have a suspicion that they are related.  It would probably be a good thing if the tower was an expansion of the apartments because the current apartments are completely booked.  Out of curiosity, I searched multiple dates between now and June 2013; none of them had any availability.

Istanbul Bridges

I decided it was time to add some variety to my bridges post.  Last year I spent two weeks in Istanbul.  While I was not as absorbed in my bridges quest at that time, I found that thinking about the bridges in Pittsburgh and London caused me to reflect on the bridges in Istanbul.  Considering how much water there is in Istanbul, there are very few bridges.  I can only recall seeing three: the Galata Bridge, Ataturk Bridge, and the Bosphorus Bridge.  (Apparently my memory is a little rusty as I just looked up a map of Istanbul which shows there were four bridges that I would have seen, this obviously reflects the fact that I was not in my bridges phase at that time.)  Of these four bridges, I only crossed the Galata Bridge, but I walked under the Bosphorus Bridge and took some pictures of it.

The Galata and Bosphorus bridges are very different in age and use.  There has been a Galata Bridge since the middle of the 19th century and a bridge over the Golden Horn (the body of water the Galata Bridge spans) since at least the 6th century.  The Galata Bridge has many uses.  There are wide sidewalks that accommodate pedestrians, three lanes in each direction for cars, and tracks down the middle of the bridge for the trams.  While I worked very hard not to get any of them in the picture above, the bridge is usually lined with fisherman and street vendors sell freshly caught and cooked fish.  Below the street deck are numerous restaurants.  One day, we had fish sandwiches for lunch at one of these, which were surprisingly good (I’m not much of a fish fan).  The line of one of the fisherman on the street deck above can be seen in my picture from the restaurant.  The Galata Bridge not only provides access between two points, but also provides people access to their livelihoods and to decent meals.  This shows that bridges do not have to be just about funneling traffic from one place to another; they can be a lively and interactive space in the city.


On the other hand, the Bosphorus Bridge, built in the 1970s as the first bridge to span the Bosphorus strait, is purely a funnel (as far as I observed).  It looks like it could be in New York or almost any other US city.  The purpose of the Bosphorus Bridge is like that of most of Pittsburgh’s river bridges–to provide vehicular access across a body of water.


Veterans Bridge

The Veterans Bridge is one of the bridges I will not be walking in Pittsburgh because it doesn’t have pedestrian access.  It carries another one of the freeways over the Allegheny River.  As discussed in the Fort Duquesne Bridge post, freeways and pedestrians usually don’t mix.

The reason that I am including a post on this bridge, as my focus is on the bridges that I walk, is that it adds to the discussion of how many bridges are there in Pittsburgh.  As the Veterans Bridge, I consider it a single bridge entity.  However, the image above shows that there are three separate entities that make up the bridge, at least as it crosses over the parking lots in The Strip (I believe at least two of these merge before the bridge crosses the river).  So the question is, do these three elevated roadways get counted as three separate bridges in addition to the bridge over the river?  If that is the case, then it is easy to see how Pittsburgh can outrank Venice in the number of bridges each city has.  Though I have yet to go to Venice, I image its bridges are more like London’s bridges where there is only one roadway and few or no elevated ramps/roadways to approach the bridge.

Three Sisters: 7th Street Bridge

The final of the Three Sisters is the 7th Street Bridge.  This one is named after Andy Warhol, which makes since as the Andy Warhol Museum is located about two blocks from the northern end of the bridge.  Another attraction on the northern end is the “new” Alcoa building.  Alcoa, an aluminum company, moved from their skyscraper downtown to this blue glass, wavy building in 1998 (the building on the right in the picture above).  The former Alcoa Building downtown (which people still call the Alcoa Building) is unusual with its aluminum walls and pod-like windows.  It was turned over to a consortium of non-profit groups, but has lately been plagued with high vacancy rates.  A recent newspaper article announced a plan to convert the upper portion to apartments and retain the lower portion for the existing tenants.  I haven’t been inside the old building, but the new one is quite swanky.  It reminds me a bit of a building used in the first Jason Bourne film for the headquarters of a firm that sells giant yachts to billionaires.

The 7th Street Bridge was the first of the Three Sisters to be built in 1926.  The 6th Street Bridge, aka Roberto Clemente Bridge, was built downriver (see June 14th post) and the 9th Street  Bridge, aka Rachel Carson Bridge, was built upriver (see June 21st post) a few years later.  Its location in-between the other two bridges means that the views from it are not much different.  The view upstream is almost identical to that from the 9th Street Bridge, except that the 9th Street Bridge is added to the mass of bridges, making the view more cluttered.  Downstream, there is still a nice view of Mt. Washington and a good view of Kayak Pittsburgh under the 6th Street Bridge.


Three Sisters: 9th Street Bridge

I decided to address each of the Three Sisters separately after all and for some reason to do it out of order (which is quite unusual for me as I am generally very methodical).  The 9th Street Bridge is also called the Rachel Carson Bridge.  Rachel Carson was an environmentalist who grew up near Pittsburgh and attended college at the forerunner of Chatham University (one of Pittsburgh’s many universities).  The bridge was named in her honor on Earth Day in 2006.  Unlike the other Three Sisters Bridges, there is no specific reason why this bridge should have been named for Rachel Carson.  The 6th Street Bridge (see June 14th post) renamed for Roberto Clemente, a former Pirates player, connects to PNC Park, the current home of the Pittsburgh Pirates, while the 7th Street Bridge renamed for Andy Warhol connects to the Andy Warhol Museum (see June 22 post).  As far as I am aware, there is no similar connection between the location of the 9th Street Bridge and its namesake.

As far as my observations go, this bridge is the least used of the Three Sisters.  The south end of the bridge is near CAPA High School (for performing arts) and the Convention Center, but the north end does not connect to any buildings or sights that seem like they attract much traffic, while the north end of the other two connect to a museum and a ballpark.  In addition to the surroundings, the condition of the bridge suggested that it is not as well cared for (perhaps because there is less traffic) than the others.  There are two stone pillars at each end of each of the three bridges.  One of these on the Rachel Carson Bridge was almost completely covered in vines and weeds.  The side facing into the bridge holds the plaque identifying the bridge and was the only side not covered in growth.  On second thought, perhaps this is not due to a lack of maintenance but rather in recognition of the fact that Rachel Carson was an environmentalist.

The views up and downriver from the Rachel Carson Bridge encompass mostly the other bridges around it.  Upriver are a railroad bridge, the Veteran’s Bridge (see June 24 post), and the 16th Street Bridge (see July 13 and July 14 posts).  However, rising above these bridges is the Children’s Hospital in Lawrenceville, another iconic Pittsburgh building visible from multiple points around the city and displaying a color scheme as intriguing as any of the London bridges.

Vauxhall Bridge

I must say that London has the most interesting and varied color schemes for its bridges of any city I have yet visited.  In Pittsburgh, for instance, the bridges that have color use only one (and that tends to be yellow).  All the examples I can think of for bridges in other US cities follow a similar color design as Pittsburgh, though not in yellow.  On the other hand, London’s Vauxhall Bridge presents yet another tri-color design scheme different from the three bridges I’ve already posted about and from the nine more to come.

Upriver from the bridge, the smoke stacks of the Battersea Power Station (see June 18 post) are still in view.  In the other direction, classic, old London architecture appears, after the views from the bridges upriver were dominated by modern architecture (when I say modern architecture I include anything from the Modern Movement beginning roughly in the 1920s through contemporary architecture).


More interesting than the color scheme of this bridge was the sculpture.  Vauxhall Bridge has five arches; there are four statues on each side of the bridge, one in-between each arch.  Each statue obviously represented what I guessed to be some form of art or industry.  The one holding the model of St. Paul’s Cathedral and the one with the scythe were easy to identify as Architecture and Agriculture respectively.  I could not immediately determine the symbolism of several of the others including the one holding the urn.  Fortunately, we have the internet, which has given me the official representation for each statue.  In order they are: Government, Education, Fine Art, Science/Astronomy, Agriculture, Architecture, Engineering, and Pottery.



For more information about Vauxhall Bridge including pictures and quotes about the previous bridge on this site, I found this website interesting.

A Sidewalk to Nowhere

For those who may not want to walk the 6th Street Bridge (click to view June 14th’s post) to get from downtown Pittsburgh to a Steelers or Pitt football game, the Fort Duquesne Bridge provides a pleasant alternative.  As the picture above indicates, the sidewalk is not directly connected to the bridge for most of the way.  The walkway starts from a pleasant path through Point State Park (which means crossing the Bridge Under a Bridge, June 15th’s post) and ends on the North Side about halfway between PNC Park and Heinz Field.

I was surprised by how new and clean this bridge appeared.  Before crossing, I had my doubts as to whether there was a pedestrian path across the Allegheny at this point as Fort Duquesne Bridge carries one of the interstates and pedestrians and interstates do not usually go together.  At first I thought the newness of this pedestrian bridge accounted for the presence of the pedestrian access, but then I saw the sidewalk to nowhere on the Fort Duquesne Bridge itself.

This suggested that at the time the bridge was built in the late 1950s and early 1960s, people were not quite as adverse to having pedestrians and interstates share infrastructure.  However, this is evidence of the violence of the feelings against such an arrangement today.  PGHbridges.com has a picture of this severely truncated sidewalk that includes a remnant of the staircase that used to lead to it.  I do not believe that the staircase remnant exists any longer.  When I saw the sidewalk to nowhere I looked around for some sign of where it used to go and did not find any, but I cannot remember if I looked down.  I have walked around the part of Point State Park near where the staircase would have been several times and never noticed any steps.  I will look carefully the next time I am there to make sure they have been completely removed.

While I have been referring to the Fort Duquesne Pedestrian Bridge as new, it is actually over 10 years old.  Though I have not been able to find an exact date for its construction and/or opening, it was in use before the demolition of Three Rivers Stadium in 2001.  (Here are two YouTube videos of the demolition: one and two.  I find it fascinating that the demolition was celebrated with fireworks.)  A website with directions between North Side, Point State Park, and the Duquesne Incline refers to the “new pedestrian bridge” that provides access to Three Rivers Stadium accompanied by a photo of the stadium taken before the start of the construction of Heinz Field in 1999.  This website has no dates, but based on this information the pedestrian bridge must be over 13 years old, which I suppose is still fairly new for a bridge, but it is older than I had imagined.

There is a nice view downriver from this bridge.  Several famous Pittsburgh sites are included in the view: the Point, the Duquesne Incline, and Heinz Field.  Other sites of interest in this view are the Carnegie Science Center, the West End Bridge, and the remnant of a former bridge across the Allegheny.  The view upriver is partially obstructed by the wire mesh fence along the interstate bridge.  I did get a couple of shots that you can mostly make out what is there.  One shows downtown Pittsburgh and the other shows the bridges upriver including the Three Sisters (see June 14th, June 21, and June 22 post) and a railroad bridge.  There is an item of interest I want to point out in this second view: just about in the middle of the frame, the domes of the Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic Church on Polish Hill.  This is one of my favorite buildings in Pittsburgh, because of its unique green domes that are a significant landmark visible for miles up and down the Allegheny River.


I have to add that I chose the name for this post (A Sidewalk to Nowhere) before I was aware that the Fort Duquesne Bridge’s nickname is “The Bridge to Nowhere.”  While the pedestrian bridge attachment connects two points, the Bridge itself does not directly connect any points of interest.  Instead it ferries cars from one interstate to another.  The north end of the bridge continues onto elevated ramps in between various highways and freeways.  The south end connects seamlessly to the Fort Pitt Bridge and Tunnels by way of the Portal Bridge (mentioned in June 15th’s post) and though there is also some access to downtown it is directed to the roadways along the rivers that permit cars to bypass downtown.

A power station and Sherlock Holmes

The Battersea Power Station intrigued me from the first glimpse I got of it.  The smoke stacks first entered my frame of view at the Battersea Bridge (see June 15th post).  I kept my eyes on the building as I got closer to it and was thrilled to get such a close view.  I couldn’t tell from the early views of it that it was on the river.  It was obviously empty as I could see sky through some of the windows.  However I did not know what it was.  While large, empty, industrial buildings intrigue me, I don’t know enough about them to identify their previous purposes.  This one used to be a power station built in the 1930s and closed over the 1970s and 1980s.  The National Heritage website indicates that building was to be adapted to new uses starting in 2005 and a BBC article said the building was to open as a new shopping and etc. complex in 2009.  I did not see any signs of any use of the building when I passed, so I’m assuming these projects have yet to come to fruition.

After returning home from my trip to the UK, I received Sherlock Season 2 on DVD.  One of the best parts of the season was in the first episode “A Scandal in Belgravia” where a sequence took place at the Battersea Power Station, which I instantly recognized, from having spent so much time staring at it while walking past it along the River Thames.  This has been one of my favorite parts about my trip to the UK, now when I watch my British TV or read my British literature I recognize and understand the locations more from having seen them in person.

I did have a false call with this over the weekend.  I was reading “For all the Tea in China” by Sarah Rose which talked about the Chelsea Physic Garden.  I immediately said, “I know that place, I remember walking past it.”  However, when looking at pictures of it online, I realized that I passed by the Physic Garden completely oblivious to its presence.  What I remembered walking past was the Chelsea Flower Show grounds, which were being set up for a big show, that the gardeners were a little concerned about due to the excess rain the UK experienced this spring.

Chelsea Bridge, London


The part I most enjoyed about the Chelsea Bridge was the four golden ships, two at each end of the bridge.  I only took two pictures of these ships.  I originally was only going to take one as I assumed that they were all different, but I took a second when I noticed the coat of arms below the ships were different on each side.  The first one is the coat of arms of London and the other one is the coat of arms of one or some of the boroughs.  Like the Albert Bridge, the 19th century Chelsea Bridge had structural issues.  Unlike the Albert Bridge, the Chelsea Bridge was demolished and rebuilt in the 1930s.  The red and white color scheme, while not as striking as the Albert Bridge’s pink, green, and blue scheme, does also catch the eye.  I suppose this may serve a similar purpose of making the bridge visible under challenging visual conditions.

Similar to the Albert Bridge, the view from the Chelsea Bridge encompassed mostly modern buildings among the trees lining the river embankments.  The Battersea Power Station, now vacant, was one of the oldest buildings visible from the bridge.  (Watch for an up-coming post with more on the power station and Sherlock Holmes.)


An interesting tidbit I discovered while looking up the Chelsea Bridge online is that Billy Strayhorn composed a song entitled Chelsea Bridge.  Apparently the piece is misnamed as Strayhorn was inspired by the image of the Battersea Bridge, which he identified at the Chelsea Bridge.  While I am not familiar with Strayhorn’s work, I am intrigued by this connection as Strayhorn went to high school in Pittsburgh and started his career here.  A local theater, the Kelly-Strayhorn Theater, is named in his and Gene Kelly’s honor.  (Gene Kelly also went to high school and college in Pittsburgh.)