Bellefield Bridge (1898-1918)
(It's still there, buried in place)
The Bellefield Bridge, located in Oakland between the Carnegie and Hillman libraries, was built in 1898. Although no longer visible, the decorative stone archway spanning the former St. Pierre's Ravine still stands proud among the many other attractions around Schenley Plaza.
The entire structuree is 341-feet in length, eighty feet wide, and once stood 100 feet above ground level. The chief project engineer was H. B. Rust of the City of Pittsburgh, and the cost of construction was $112,000.
On June 30, 1909, the Bellefield Bridge (shown above and below) made a picturesque gateway for many finely dressed men and women arriving for the opening day festivities at Pittsburgh Pirate owner Barney Dreyfuss' new $1 million stadium, Forbes Field, which at that time was the grandest of all of the major league baseball stadiums.
In 1911, Pittsburgh City Council sponsored a competition to design a memorial to Mary Schenley, who donated the land for Schenley Park. A proposed plaza, a grand gateway into the park, would be adorned with an appropriate memorial to Mrs. Schenley.
The following year, during the removal of the Grant Street hump, earth and rock from the dig was used to fill St. Pierre's Ravine, preparing for the future construction of Schenley Plaza. Slowly the ground level around the bridge rose until all but the road surface was visible.
The Mary Schenley Memorial Fountain was installed in Schenley Plaza in 1918. The entire structure rests on a sturdy foundation of finely cut stone.
Although now standing a few feet below ground level, engineer H. B. Rust's lovely Bellefield Bridge stands intact, providing the necessary support for a the memorial, a sculpture atop an ornate fountain called "Song of Nature." It depicts Pan and the yearly regeneration of life.
Almost a half-century later, in 1965, the Frick Fine Arts Building was constructed above a nearby section of the filled ravine. The Mary Schenley Fountain stands before the front steps of the landmark Renaissance villa.
Fascinated by the former beauty of the buried bridge, Pittsburghers have for years considered ways to bring the vintage stone structure back into the light of day. One interesting proposal put forth in 2001 envisioned the bridge and archway as entrance to an underground parking complex between the Carnegie and Hillman libraries.
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Photos of the Bellefield Bridge
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