The Union Bridge

The Union Bridge in 1905.
The southern portal of the Union Bridge at Pittsburgh's Point. It was the first bridge built at the Point.

The Union Bridge, built in 1874, was the first bridge built at the Point. It spanned the Allegheny River, linking Pittsburgh with the City of Allegheny on the north shore. The covered bridge was built of wood, the last of it's kind constructed in Pittsburgh. The wood superstructure was the result of caution in the quality of early iron.

The Union Bridge in 1902.
The northern portal of the Union Bridge. The last wooden bridge built in Pittsburgh, it stood for thirty-three years.
The photo was taken in March of 1902 during a flood of nearly thirty-six feet.

The bridge was built upon four stone piers, with elaborate portals at each end which were constructed of wood to represent a stone facing. It was constructed in five equal spans, and included a two lane roadway and twin sidewalks. Unfortunately, the bridge clearance was only forty feet above the river level, and this lack of foresight caused an obstruction to river traffic. By 1899, it became such a problem that the Secretary of War decreed that all bridges on Pittsburgh's rivers had to be raised higher or replaced.

The inside of the Union Bridge in 1902.
The interior of the Union Bridge, showing the roadbed, trolley tracks and walkway on each side.

The bridge sustained major damage during the Flood of 1907, when water levels rose to nearly thirty-nine feet. It was demolished later that year and replaced, in 1915, with the steel-framed Manchester Bridge. Fifty-four years later, in 1969, The Manchester Bridge came down and was replaced with the present-day Fort Duquesne Bridge.

The Union Bridge during the Flood of 1907.
The Union Bridge during the Big Flood of 1907. The damaged bridge was demolished later that year.

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