Bellefield Bridge

Bellefield Bridge - 1899
The Bellefield Bridge in 1899

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.

Bellefield Bridge

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.

Bellefield Bridge

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.

Bellefield Bridge
By 1913, dirt from the hump removal project in downtown Pittsburgh begins to fill St. Pierre's ravine.

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.

Mary Schenley Memorial Fountain
The Mary Schenley Memorial Fountain in Schenley Plaza. The Cathedral of Learning stands tall in the background.

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.

Hopkins Map - 1910
1910 Hopkins Map showing the location of the Bellefield Bridge.

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Photos of the Bellefield Bridge

Bellefield Bridge

Bellefield Bridge
Two views of the Bellefield Bridge and the Carnegie Library, both taken in 1904.

The land on which Forbes Field would be built - 1908.
A 1908 photo showing the location of the future Forbes Field in Oakland and the Bellefield Bridge.

Bellefield Bridge
A view of Forbes Field looking over the Bellefield Bridge in 1911.

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