Our next stop on the 10-year anniversary series looking at the changes to and around Pittsburgh’s bridges is the Herron Avenue Bridge. This is another bridge that passes over the MLK Jr or East busway. Traveling down the busway toward downtown from the Baum and Centre Bridges we looked at last month, this bridge is three bridges closer to downtown. It connects the Polish Hill and Lawrenceville neighborhoods in Pittsburgh.
On the northeastern side of the bridge is the former Iron City Brewery. When I walked this bridge in 2012, there were plans in the works to redevelop this complex of 20 or so buildings. Ten years later, not much has changed on this site – other than the clearing away a large pile of dirt and debris near the loading docks (visible in the second photo pair below). According to new articles about the site published in 2019 and 2021, some exterior stabilization has occurred and there are still plans in the works to renovate the site (WPXI, CBS, City Paper, Pittsburgh Business Times).
One the other side of the bridge, a major transformation is underway changing from a warehouse with large parking lots to a dense mixed-use development. The new buildings are visible from many angles of and from the bridge (see all but the second photo pair below). Construction started last summer and the project website says that pre-leasing was to begin in spring of this year, but based on the information on the website it doesn’t look like this has begun yet. One of the amenities listed is the views, which include the views of downtown stolen from the bridge.
Polish Hill, the neighborhood which is home to the Immaculate Heart of Mary’s Church I’ve pointed out in some posts (see 31st Street Bridge and A Sidewalk to Nowhere), has only two points of access to the lower ground along the Allegheny River. These are the Herron Avenue Bridge (above) and the 28th Street Bridge (see post) which cross over the busway and parallel railroad tracks to reach Lawrenceville and The Strip District, respectively.
There are a few sites of interest from the Herron Avenue Bridge. The first of which is the former Iron City Brewery site, which up until a few years ago was the oldest (and only remaining) brewery within the city limits. It closed and the site has been vacant ever since. This summer, it became a site of contention. The property was purchased earlier in the year by a development company, who this summer demolished some of the buildings on the site. The site is a designated historic landmark, but the company received permission to demolish one building that was structurally unsound. As I read it in articles in the Post-Gazette and elsewhere, the company said that when this building was demolished others became unstable requiring immediate demolition. The Lawrenceville Stakeholders Historic Preservation Committee petitioned the city to site the company for unauthorized demolitions. At the end of August, the development company was fined $20,000 for the demolitions (see article). Despite the argument over the demolitions, the company and the neighborhood are supposedly working together to come up with a plan to (re)develop the site.
Also visible from the bridge are two of Pittsburgh’s repurposed churches. The one in the first picture is the Church Brew Works, the city’s most infamous adaptive reuse of a church building. The one in the second picture is the Choir Loft Condominiums which have been visible from other bridges as well (see Bloomfield Bridge and 31st Street Bridge posts).
Other views from this bridge show downtown and the busway.