I walked the 40th Street Bridge last fall after having taken a tour of the Maxo Vanka murals at the St. Nicholas Croatian Catholic Church (pictured above). Two years after having come up with the idea of walking all the bridges in Pittsburgh, this one was the first that I documented (side note: the camera I had at that time produced pictures of significantly less quality than my current camera). While the bridge itself was fine for walking across, the approach to it was quite intimidating, so much so that if there was a bus easily accessible and going in the direction I wanted, I would have chickened out and taken it instead. Between the church and bridge I had to cross through an active road construction zone, cross more than one fast past road, and then walk up a small strip of a highway exit ramp covered in debris and just barely wide enough for passing the people coming the other direction.
The other end of the bridge connects to Lawrenceville and is much more pleasant as it immediately connects to a residential area and there is a little parklet that is designed to encourage pedestrians at one corner. The large building in the middle of the frame above is Arsenal school, behind which is Arsenal Park. Both sites were named after the Allegheny Arsenal located on this site during the Civil War, which played a significant role in the war and where there was a major explosion that killed many of the female workers.
On the bridge itself are seals. I did not look closely at them as on this, my first official walk across a bridge, I was mostly concerned with the views from the bridge and not the bridge itself. According to PGHbridges.com these seals are the seals of Allegheny County and the thirteen original colonies repeated up and down the bridge.
The downstream view above looks out over the forested northern end of Herr’s Island toward downtown. As I mention in the Converted Railroad Bridge post, Herr’s Island has been renamed Washington’s Landing, in honor of George Washington’s crossing of the Allegheny River. Apparently the official name of the 40th Street Bridge is Washington’s Crossing Bridge, which I was not aware of until looking it up online. In the cases of the other bridges with double names such as each of the Three Sisters Bridges (see June 14, June 21, and June 22 posts) and the R.D. Fleming/62nd Street Bridge (see July 24 post) both names are used interchangeably, but I have only ever heard this bridge called the 40th Street Bridge. As the person who commented on the Converted Railroad Bridge pointed out, the island renamed Washington’s Landing wasn’t actually where Washington landed. PGHbridges.com has a somewhat detailed account of what might have happened when Washington crossed the Allegheny according to which the island he and Christopher Gist landed on after Washington fell into the river was actually on the southern side of the river (Herr’s Island/Washington’s Landing is on the northern side).
Up until this point on the Allegheny River, both sides of the river are part of the City of Pittsburgh. Now the right-hand side of the river in the upstream view above is Pittsburgh while the left-hand side belongs to other municipalities.
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