The Manchester Bridge, opened in 1915, was the second bridge that connected the Point with the North Shore. It was the successor to the wooden, covered Union Bridge (1874-1907). The Manchester Bridge was in use until 1969, when it was replaced by the Fort Duquesne Bridge. The bridge was demolished in 1970 as one of the final acts in the completion of the Point State Park project.
After the demolition of the Union Bridge, city planners began the process of deciding how and where to construct a new bridge to link the northern and southern shores of the Allegheny River. The Point was chosen, due to the proximity to the Point Bridge, which spanned the Monongahela River near the same location. Originally called as the "North Side Point Bridge," construction began in 1909.
The bridge piers, constructed by the Dravo Contracting Company, were made of concrete faced with Beaver sandstone and completed in October, 1912. The final cost of the substructure was $196,000. Work began on the superstructure in August, 1912. Constructed by the American Bridge Company, the bridge consisted of two truss spans with subdivided panels, each 531 feet long. The clearance was seventy feet above the river level. The roadway was 36 feet wide, with twelve foot sidewalks on each side. The constuction cost of the main span was $300,000.
In addition to the 1062-foot main span, the bridge was flanked by two approachways, a 913 foot ramp on the Point side, and a 865 foot ramp on the north shore. Construction of the approaches began in January, 1914, with Booth and Flinn, Ltd. as the main contractor. The north approach consisted of a series of six reinforced concrete arches and a long fill between concrete retaining walls. The south approach at the Point, consisted of two concrete arches together with over 700 feet of retaining wall. This approach joined the already existing ramp of the Point Bridge, resulting in a Y-intersection at the Point, with one arm branching to cross the Monongahela River and the other the Allegheny River.
The Manchester Bridge was dedicated by Mayor Joseph A. Armstrong and opened to traffic on August 9, 1915. A gala ceremony took place on the North Shore. It was a big day for Pittsburghers. The $1,000,000 structure was paid for entirely by city bond issues.
When the bridge was dedicated it was still without any ornamental adornment. The Manchester Bridge had been originally designed to incorporate stone portals, but they were never constructed. Ornamental reliefs were affixed to the portals in 1917. On the Point Portal was shown, kneeling on either side of the Arms of the City of Pittsburgh, Christopher Gist, the pioneer, and Guyasuta, a local Indian chief. The Northside portal had a coal miner and a mill worker on either side of the same municipal banner. On the upright of each portal were fixed ornamental lighting fixtures and flag staffs.
The Manchester Bridge stood at the Point for fifty-five years. As the City of Pittsburgh developed, plans for the redevelopment of the Point and transportation improvements during the 1950s Renaissance I building initiative deemed that two new bridges be built at the Point. Efforts to save the historic structure failed. After the opening of the Fort Duquesne Bridge in 1969, the fate of the Manchester Bridge was sealed. The span was demolished in 1970. The "Y" intersection at the Point was replaced by the Point State Park fountain, the signature landmark at the junction of the three rivers.
During the removal of the bridge, vestiges of the structure were preserved. The northern pier was left in place and intended to serve as an observation deck in the riverside park along the Allegheny River. The park, later named Roberto Clemente Park, was built as part of the construction of Three Rivers Stadium. The two portal sculptures were to be mounted on the stone-faced pier, but the project was never completed. Since 1970, these sculptures have been stored at the Old Post Office (Children's Museum) on the North Side and the abandoned stone pier stood silently along the shoreline.
In 2001, Three Rivers Stadium was replaced with Heinz Field, and there was once again talk of North Shore development and an expanded riverside park. In 2009, the stone pier was incorporated into an observation deck that included a memorial to Fred Rogers, better known as Mister Rogers, the long-time host of the children's television show, "Mister Rogers Neighborhood." The memorial, a Tribute to Children, was dedicated on November 5, 2009.
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