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Monongahela Incline
the sign on the terminal showing Monongahela Incline 1870
The lower terminal and a car descending
Lower station of Monongahela Incline
Overview
Owner Port Authority of Allegheny County
Locale Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Termini West Carson Street
Grandview Avenue
Stations 2
Service
Type Funicular
History
Opened May 28, 1870 (1870-05-28)
Technical
Line length 635 feet (194 m)
Track gauge 5 ft (1,524 mm)
Electrification 1935
Operating speed 6 mph (9.7 km/h)
Monongahela Incline
Location Grandview Avenue at Wyoming Avenue,
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Area 1 acre (0.40 ha)
Built 1869
Architect John Endres
Architectural style Late 19th And 20th Century Revivals, Second Renaissance Revival
NRHP reference No. 74001742
Significant dates
Added to NRHP June 25, 1974

The Monongahela Incline is a funicular located near the Smithfield Street Bridge in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Built by John Endres in 1870, it is the oldest continuously operating funicular in the United States. It is also one of two surviving inclines (the other is the nearby Duquesne Incline) from the original 17 passenger-carrying inclines built in Pittsburgh starting in the late 19th century. Its lower station is across the street from the Station Square shopping complex, and is easily accessible from the light rail system at the Station Square station.

History

Monongahela Incline 1905
Monongahela Incline (right) and the demolished Monongahela Freight Incline (left) in 1905.

Pittsburgh's expanding industrial base in 1860 created a huge demand for labor, attracting mainly German immigrants to the region. This created a serious housing shortage as industry occupied most of the flat lands adjacent to the river, leaving only the steep, surrounding hillsides of Mt. Washington or "Coal Hill" for housing. However, travel between the "hill" and other areas was hindered by a lack of good roads or public transport.

The predominantly German immigrants who settled on Mt. Washington, remembering the seilbahns (cable cars) of their former country, proposed the construction of inclines along the face of Coal Hill. The result was the Monongahela Incline, which opened on May 28, 1870. Earlier inclines were used to transport coal in the Pittsburgh area, including the Kirk Lewis incline on Mt. Washington and the Ormsby mine gravity plane in nearby Birmingham, later annexed to the city of Pittsburgh.

The Monongahela Incline is operated by the Port Authority of Allegheny County, which operates the rest of Pittsburgh's transit system. Transfers can be made between the incline and the light rail and buses.

Water damage caused by flooding due to a broken city water main forced the incline to close temporarily on February 2, 2019. After multiple delays caused by the extensive repairs, the incline reopened 13 weeks later on May 10.

Statistics

  • Length: 635 feet (194 m)
  • Elevation: 369.39 feet (112.59 m)
  • Grade: 35 degrees, 35 minutes
  • Gauge: 5 ft (1,524 mm) broad gauge
  • Speed: 6 mph (9.7 km/h)
  • Passenger Capacity: 23 per car
  • Opened: May 28, 1870
  • Renovated: 1882 (with steel structure)
  • Original steam power replaced with electricity: 1935
  • Renovated: 1982-83 new track structure, cars and stations
  • Renovated: 1994 upper, lower stations, restored cars, replaced electric motors and controls

Gallery

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