Beechview Bridges

Beechview is a neighborhood built on the crest of a hill and spilling down all the sides of the ravines and runs. It claims the steepest paved car “accessible” street in the US, if not the world. Traveling in almost any direction around or through the neighborhood includes an uphill portion. It is a place where anyone driving without chains ought to call in sick or request to work from home after a snow or ice storm to avoid sliding back down the hill when attempting to leave the neighborhood.

Bridges are used to create more level routes, spanning hillsides, runs, and dips. However, none of the two and a half bridges in the neighborhood are for cars. (The half bridge crosses the city boundary into the neighboring borough of Dormont.) The bridges are for the “T”, the local light rail system. Cars are left to manage the ups and downs as best they can. Pedestrians have access to one of the bridges, but otherwise, they are also left to manage the slopes as best they can.

The bridge with pedestrian access was constructed in the era of cages (see post). I am noticing a theme of completely enclosed pedestrian walkways found in association with major transit lines (ex. Beechview’s bridge, Graham Street Bridge, and the former pedestrian bridges over the East Liberty busway) while partially enclosed cages are found in association with roads and rivers (ex. Highland Park Bridge and the pedestrian bridge over Bigelow Blvd).

New Bethlehem Memorial Bridge

The New Bethlehem, PA, Memorial Bridge holds a special place in my heart. After going through the woods for hours on the way to grandmother’s house, New Bethlehem was a landmark that we were getting close. A few more wooded hills and a few more river crossings and we’d be there.

I wonder if in addition to the answer to “are we there yet?” changing from “no” to “almost,” I also enjoyed the intimacy of New Bethlehem after hours on the impersonal and distant freeway. In the previous five hours of diving, we crossed many bridges over many waterways including both the eastern and western branches of the Susquehanna River. But what little I remember of the bridges on Rt 80, they are distant from the water and between the speed and concrete barriers, there is not much to see. At New Bethlehem, the water is right there, almost within reach. Plus there’s a mini waterfall to enjoy.

In my new habit of taking “Sunday drives” (though usually on Saturday), I recently wended my way through the hills to drive across this bridge again for the first time since I was 12 (and first time across as the driver). Of course, I stopped the car to be able to get out and walk across. There is a nice riverfront park on the eastern side, which is either “new” or just not as noticeable when driving.