The Bloomfield Bridge: A Symbol of Pittsburgh
The Bloomfield Bridge is more than just a functional structure in Pittsburgh – it’s a testament to the city’s historical evolution, a symbol of its unyielding spirit, and a gateway to its diverse neighborhoods.
History of The Bloomfield Bridge
The initial Bridge was established in 1914, marking an era of advancement in Pittsburgh. This steel cantilever bridge was a remarkable feat of engineering at the time, with a length of 2,100 feet and a main span of 400 feet. It was a creation of the Fort Pitt Bridge Works, designed by engineer T. J. Wilkerson and architect Stanley L. Roush.
“At the time of construction, it was the longest, highest, and one of the most expensive bridges in Pittsburgh.”
Its inauguration was a grand event, celebrated with a “monster celebration” which even included a wedding ceremony at the midpoint of the span2. This tradition continued with the dedication of the replacement bridge in 1986, which also witnessed a wedding.
The Bloomfield Bridge: A Symbol of Modernization
The decision to build the Bloomfield Bridge was not driven by specific economic or commuter needs. Instead, it represented the citizens’ general interest in modernization and the city’s commitment to infrastructure development.
In the early 1900s, Pittsburgh, like many American cities, was expanding rapidly. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette called it “the great bridge-building era,” and the Bloomfield Bridge, voted into existence by Bloomfield residents, was a significant part of this expansion.
However, by 1978, the original ridge had rusted beyond repair. It was dismantled in 1980. The successor, a new Bloomfield Bridge, was built and opened to the public in 1986.
The Bridge Today
The present Bridge is a steel girder bridge, spanning 1,535 feet across Skunk Hollow, a steep ravine between the densely populated Bloomfield and Polish Hill neighborhoods.
The Bridge’s Role in the Community
The Bloomfield Bridge plays a crucial role in the community. It connects Liberty Avenue, the commercial heart of the traditionally Italian (and increasingly Asian) neighborhood, to PA 380, which leads to Downtown Pittsburgh and Oakland, home to several major universities.
The bridge also spans numerous railroad tracks managed by CSX and Norfolk Southern, and the Martin Luther King Jr. East Busway, a rapid transit system. It’s not just a bridge – it’s a vital artery, facilitating the flow of people, goods, and services across Pittsburgh.
The Bridge and Sports History
Underneath the bridge lies a community football and baseball field, previously known as Dean’s Field. It holds historical significance as the place where Johnny Unitas, the legendary football player, kick-started his illustrious NFL career.
The Bloomfield Bridge: A Gateway to Pittsburgh’s Neighborhoods
The intersection created by Liberty Avenue, Main Street, and Bigelow Boulevard via the Bridge forms a pivotal gateway to Pittsburgh’s Bloomfield neighborhood. It’s not just about efficient traffic flow; this intersection also shapes people’s perceptions of Bloomfield.
Future of The Bridge
As Pittsburgh continues to grow and evolve, so does the area around the Bloomfield Bridge. The bridge’s future is likely to witness more changes and development, reflecting the changing nature of the city itself.
“The Bloomfield Bridge is more than just a structure – it’s a symbol of Pittsburgh’s past, present, and future.”
From its construction in the early 20th century to its present-day role as a crucial link in Pittsburgh’s transportation network, the Bridge’s story is a testament to the city’s progressive spirit. It stands as a solid testament to the city’s dynamic history and its commitment to growth and development.
The Bridge is not just a landmark in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, is more than just a bridge. It’s an emblem of the city’s evolution and a testament to its residents’ resilience and progressive spirit. The bridge’s history is steeped in the city’s growth, reflecting the societal changes and developments that have taken place over the years. As the city continues to grow and change, the Bloomfield Bridge remains a symbol of Pittsburgh’s enduring spirit and commitment to progress.