The results are in for the Monongahela River Bridges half of the Sweet Sixteen in 2023’s Bridge Madness Tournament. The tournament features bridges or groups of bridges that are accessible to vehicles and pedestrians. From east to west, these bridges on the Monongahela River are the Homestead Greys Bridge, the Glenwood Bridge, the Hot Metal Bridges, the Birmingham Bridge, the South 10th Street Bridge, the Liberty Bridge, the Smithfield Bridge, and the Fort Pitt Bridge.
Bracket 1 was Fort Pitt Bridge (55%) vs. Homestead Grays Bridge (45%).
Bracket 2 was Smithfield Bridge (95%) vs. Glenwood Bridge (5%).
Bracket 3 was the Hot Metal Bridges (70%) vs. Liberty Bridge (30%).
Bracket 4 was South 10th Street Bridge (53%) vs. the Birmingham Bridge (47%).
The winners in these brackets are matched up below for the Monongahela River Bridges half of the Elite Eight. Vote for your favorite bridges below by noon on March 23, then check back on March 24 for the Final Four match-ups featuring all rivers.
The 2023 Bridge Madness Tournament continues with the Monongahela Bridges half of the Sweet Sixteen. The tournament features bridges or groups of bridges that are accessible to vehicles and pedestrians. From east to west, these bridges on the Monongahela River are the Homestead Greys Bridge, the Glenwood Bridge, the Hot Metal Bridges, the Birmingham Bridge, the South 10th Street Bridge, the Liberty Bridge, the Smithfield Bridge, and the Fort Pitt Bridge. Vote for your favorite bridges below by noon on March 17, then check back on March 18 for the Allegheny and Ohio match-ups in the Elite Eight.
In the 2023 Bridge Madness Tournament, 16 bridges across Pittsburgh’s rivers go pier-to-pier in a reader’s choice tournament to pick the best one. The tournament features bridges or groups of bridges within the city limits that cross the Allegheny, Ohio, and Monongahela Rivers and that are accessible to vehicles and pedestrians. Beginning March 12, you will be able to vote for your favorite bridge in each bracket. The champion bridge will be announced on March 30.
The bridges are divided into two conferences: the Allegheny and Ohio Conference and the Monongahela Conference. From east to west, the bridges in the Allegheny and Ohio Conference are the Highland Park Bridge, the 62nd Street or R.D. Fleming Bridge, the 40th Street or Washington’s Crossing Bridge, the 31st Street Bridge, the 16th Street or David McCullough Bridge, the Three Sisters Bridges (6th Street, 7th Street, and 9th Street), the Fort Duquesne Bridge, and the West End Bridge. From east to west, the bridges in the Monongahela Conference are the Homestead Grays Bridge, the Glenwood Bridge, the joint Hot Metal Bridge and Monongahela Connecting Railroad Bridge, the Birmingham Bridge, the South 10th Street Bridge, the Liberty Bridge, the Smithfield Bridge, and the Fort Pitt Bridge.
Each round of voting will go live at 8 AM on the scheduled day and close at noon two days later. The following morning, the next round of voting will go live, until the winner is announced on March 30. The schedule is:
March 12 – Sweet Sixteen: Allegheny & Ohio Conference
March 15 – Sweet Sixteen: Monongahela Conference
March 18 – Elite Eight: Allegheny & Ohio Conference
From time to time, someone will ask me which Pittsburgh bridge is my favorite. I typically answer the Smithfield Street Bridge. The shape and color of its trusses are unique in a city of golden bridges. The lights gently rising and falling along the curves the the trusses create a soft reflection on the river. Walking over it placed the stress of work on the other side of the river. Walking over it, it’s best not to look down at the holes rusted through the sidewalk that reveal the rushing water underneath.
This question came up again when my family was visiting for the holidays. I had postponed my first walk across the new Fern Hollow Bridge about a week to share the experience with them. While we were walking across it, I was asked what bridge(s) I liked in Pittsburgh. While I answered that the Smithfield Bridge is probably my favorite, we had experienced that one multiple times in the past, so I started to think about what are the other bridges I find interesting that are less visible than the Smithfield Bridge. This spurred an impromptu driving tour of bridges in Pittsburgh.
We went from the Fern Hollow Bridge to the Greenfield Bridge, as the last time we were all in Pittsburgh together we watched the cloud of dust from the implosion of the former bridge through the trees of Schenley Park. We passed the Hot Metal Bridge, Birmingham Bridge, and South 10th Street Bridge before passing through the Armstrong Tunnel for the fun of it. That positioned us to encounter the CAP – which is one of those bridges that doesn’t look like a bridge – on our way toward the Allegheny River. I added an extra turn so that we could pass over the 28th Street Bridge – the only through truss bridge over the busway – before crossing the 31st Street Bridge (my other favorite bridge to walk, except for the fact that it is out of the way). We got out of the car at this point to walk the pedestrian/bike trail bridge to Herr’s Island. While that was the end of this unofficial tour, we did pass by the 40th Street Bridge and cross the R.D. Fleming or 62nd Street Bridge to complete our loop.
In March, you will have the chance to vote for your favorite Pittsburgh River Bridges in the 2023 Bridge Madness Tournament. Details will be announced on March 7.
For several years, I had been under the impression that Roebling has designed/built the current Smithfield Street Bridge in Pittsburgh. This summer I discovered that while he certainly designed one of the bridges at this location (as well as several others in the city including an earlier rendition of the 9th Street Bridge) he did not create the current structure–here or elsewhere in the city. The current bridge was built in the 1880s by Gustav Lindenthal. However, according to Wikipedia, a part of Roebling’s bridge still stands as the piers were the ones built for his bridge.
As I paused in my walk across the Smithfield Street Bridge to take photos of the views off either side, a Segway tour passed. These seem to be an ever increasing site in downtown Pittsburgh. While walking around downtown last week, I nearly got run over by a straggler on a Segway who had some trouble navigating the turns.
The Smithfield Street Bridge connects downtown with Station Square, which I believe was one of the earliest industrial sites turned into an entertainment complex in Pittsburgh. (Later developments of this kind are South Side Works and the Waterfront.) The Smithfield Street Bridge is probably the most heavily used by pedestrians of any of the bridges in the city. This is in large part because there is a large parking lot attached to Station Square, which many people who work downtown park in. I believe downtown workers are also attracted by the restaurants and river trail which can be reached by walking this bridge. An additional attraction for walking across this bridge from downtown is the Monongahela Incline, the base of which is across the street from Station Square.
I feel like I also hear people talk excitedly about walking the Smithfield Street Bridge as an event in and of itself. I assume this is in part due to the fact that the sidewalks are nice and wide and there is no mesh fence caging the pedestrians in (see my complaints in earlier posts starting with the Highland Park Bridge, but not perfected until I got to the busway bridges such as the Millvale Avenue Bridge). A larger part of the reason for this may be the bridge’s location and uniqueness. One factor distinguishing this bridge from others in the city is the fact that it is basically flat and at street level. Most of the other pedestrian accessible bridges that cross the rivers have inclines/declines. Another distinguishing factor is its blue color. I believe it is the only bridge in the city with this particular deep blue color (the 31st Street Bridge is the only other one I can think of that is any shade of blue). This is especially significant as the Smithfield Street Bridge is located in the heart of downtown where all vehicular river bridges, except this one, are a golden-yellow color. The third significant factor about this bridge is its shape. All the golden bridges are either suspension bridges (see the 6th, 7th, 9th, and 10th Street bridges) or semi-circular truss bridges (see Fort Pitt, Fort Duquesne, 16th Street, and West End bridges). The Smithfield Street Bridge is shaped like two close-set, narrow eyes.
To wrap up this post, I’ll just add that I like this view of downtown. Perhaps I like it because of the smaller scale of the buildings seen here or for the fact that it captures some of the remnants of the old downtown or simply because it makes a nice composition for a photograph.