Monongahela Incline to Mount Washington

Member Rating 5 out of 5 by kjlouden on March 25, 2005

If you read Pittsburgh’s promotional literature, you know that Pittsburgh is "the only city with a Gateway," also referred to as an "entrance" or "front door." I directed Kay to approach the city from the south (I-279), a half-hour out of her way, so that her first glimpse of Pittsburgh would be this astonishing view of the "front." After passing Greentree, one starts down a mountain with a truck escape ramp and becomes convinced that the city is still a distance away. Emerging from Fort Pitt Tunnel, he is suddenly suspended in quickly slowing traffic on metal Fort Pitt Bridge, looking down on the city and three rivers, a panoramic view from only 1 block away from the Golden Triangle. Kay was obliging, and then she was determined to see the view again from higher up on Mount Washington.

Monongahela Incline is one of the oldest in the region, built in 1870, and it is one of the nation’s steepest. We took the subway to Station Square and found the station house just west of the train stop on Carson Street. (If you take the subway, ask for a transfer at the pay booth when you get off and you’ll save more than $1 off the price of the Incline.) The comfortable enclosed car slowly lifted us 367 feet up the mount while Kay took pictures--I looked down at the floor! (Six hundred and thirty-five feet of wooden rails seems like a long ride at 6 miles/hour.)

From the Patrick T. Fagan Overlook, the view of the three rivers is spectacular. Looking west, you can see "The Point," where the Monongahela and Allegheny rivers form the Ohio River, Lewis and Clark’s Gateway to the West.

The orange blob past the bridge is the new Heinz Stadium, where the Steelers play, and close to it is Carnegie Science Center, where you can tour a submarine there on the Ohio or see the Omnimax film of Pittsburgh (8 minutes and better than the feature).

Straight ahead, the skyline of downtown faces the Monongahela, which is decorated with sightseeing boats in warmer weather.

We had thought of walking along Grandview Avenue, the residential street that runs along the top of the Mount, to find a restaurant with a view. There are several with glass walls and patios hanging over the cliff, but we opted for the closer view of the skyline and river at Sheraton’s Pittsburgh Rare. The Grand Concourse Restaurant in the old train station (now the Landmarks Building) has an enclosed patio with a good, close view of river traffic--and a good seafood menu.

Looking east, we captured many bridges along the Monongahela, where Andrew Carnegie’s steel barges from his upstream Homestead Mill used to ply the waters.

Further up the river are locks that an $11 cruise on the Gateway Clipper will show you while narrating the river’s history. (Note the car approaching the station.)

Inside, we read the history of the Incline before we descended.

Monongahela Incline
2235 Beaver Ave
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
(412) 237-7000

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