Warm weather is around the corner, which means thousands of people will soon be flocking to Pittsburgh’s riverfront parks and trails. With Riverlife celebrating its 20th anniversary later this year, now is a good time to look back at some of the biggest transformations that have changed the way we access and enjoy Pittsburgh’s waterfronts.
Pittsburgh’s Mon Wharf rests on the northern bank of the Monongahela River along the southern edge of Downtown between Pittsburgh’s Point and the Smithfield Street Bridge upriver. For over a hundred years the wharf has been the gritty heart of the city’s working riverfronts.
In the early part of the 20th century, the wharf was a place where people walked freely for special events and daily commerce. It became more of a destination for automobiles than people as Pittsburgh built up road infrastructure, trolley and rail lines, and parking lots on the riverfront.
Flash forward to 2018 after decades of limited access to the Mon Wharf for pedestrians and cyclists. The Mon Wharf Switchback and Mon Wharf Landing, two Riverlife improvement projects in partnership with the City of Pittsburgh, have restored easy access for people who wish to go to the wharf. But what happened at the wharf between then and now?
Tim Killmeyer is a local historian and member of the Montour Trail Council who has been fascinated by the transformation of the Mon Wharf over the past century and a half. In anticipation of his new short film and the completion of the switchback project, he reached out to Riverlife with several historic photos of the area that he gathered with help from the Allegheny County Department of Public Works. Check out his short film on YouTube for many fascinating photos (and even movie footage) of the Mon Wharf and Water Street, now known as Fort Pitt Boulevard and I-376.
Thank you Tim for providing a compelling look at the evolving relationship between Pittsburgh and its riverfronts, and to the Allegheny County Department of Public Works for sharing your images with us.
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