Originally, I thought I would write one post about the Three Sisters Bridges in Pittsburgh as they look identical and are so close together that their views of the city would not vary much. However, after walking them, I decided that the 6th Street Bridge has enough going for it to deserve its own post. (The other two Sisters are the 7th and 9th Street Bridges.)
The 6th Street Bridge is very active (much more so than its two sister bridges) and as such, I have walked over it multiple times. It connects Downtown to the North Shore right next to PNC Park (the Pirates baseball stadium). On game days the bridge is often closed to vehicular traffic, so that people who park, live, or work downtown as well as those who take public transit downtown can walk to the stadium across the bridge without crowding the sidewalks. I believe this is true for baseball games as well as football games, both University of Pittsburgh and Steelers, down river at Heinz Stadium. This bridge is also closed off to vehicles as part of the route for Pittsburgh’s annual Turkey Trot, which I participated in last year with several members of my family.
In my walk across the Three Sisters, I found additional reasons beyond the special closings of the bridge for writing about the 6th Street Bridge separately from the other two.
First, I discovered that the bridges are not completely identical. In 1928, the 6th Street Bridge won the Most Beautiful Steel Bridge Award. After crossing the Three Sisters, I agree that the 6th Street Bridge truly is the most beautiful (at least of the three). This is because of the light fixtures. The 7th and 9th Street Bridges have normal, ordinary street lights painted yellow, whereas the 6th Street Bridge has classic black posted street lamps (see image below). Though all three had hanging flower baskets, the difference in the lamps made the flowers on the 6th Street Bridge look more vibrant and beautiful than those on the other two bridges.
The second reason for discussing the Three Sisters Bridges separately is because they each have alternate names. The 6th Street Bridge is also called the Roberto Clemente Bridge. The bridge was renamed in the late 1990s. Roberto was a former Pirates player, who I remember learning about in elementary school as being an important force in combating racism in sports. There is a plaque honoring Roberto on the bridge.
Another piece of interest about the 6th Street Bridge is that Kayak Pittsburgh is located underneath the bridge on the north side. Ever since I moved to Pittsburgh, I’ve heard of Kayak Pittsburgh and its location, but I could never truly understand where it was. The hut on the water near the bridge that I thought was Kayak Pittsburgh for years is actually the shed for river emergency services. When I walked over the 6th Street Bridge this time, I approached it from the Three Rivers Trail on the north side, and finally saw Kayak Pittsburgh. The last time and perhaps only time I was on that part of the trail was the middle of winter, so there weren’t any kayaks or kayakers to see.