Wednesday, September 24, 2014

If You're Inclined To See A Great View, This Is The Place To Go

The Duquesne (dew-kayn) Incline is a funicular that's located on the South Side of Pittsburgh and climbs slowly to the top of Mt. Washington, formerly known as "Coal Hill".
It was first opened to the public in 1877, about seven years after the one to its east, the Monongahela Incline.  The Monongahela is the oldest continuously operating funicular in the United States.

Pittsburgh's industry in the mid 1800s created a high demand for labor and attracted primarily German immigrants to the area.  Because the area near the rivers at the base of the mountain were used for the industrial area, the only place for the immigrants to live was up the hill.  Many of these immigrants would use the footpaths and steps to climb to their homes after working in the river valley all day.  You can imagine how old that hike would get after a while.

Since the Germans came from a country with Alpine regions that used what they called seilbahns, or aerial tramways, they suggested the cable car similar in design.  The first to be constructed was the Monongahela Incline, with others to follow.  At one time, there were fourteen working inclines in Pittsburgh.  

The Duquesne Incline was originally steam powered and built to carry cargo up and down the mountain, which included horses, wagons, and other light freight as well as foot passengers.  Prior to the incline, there were switchback trails that wound up the hill and were difficult to navigate with horses pulling loaded wagons.  

As roads started being built for the residents at the top of the hill, the funiculars were closed.  At the end of the sixties, only the Duquesne and Monongahela Inclines remained, and are the two that are open today.  The Duquesne Incline is one of Pittsburgh's most popular tourist attractions.
At the bottom of the hill where you board the incline, is a small ticket office.  The clerk window and the wood surrounding it is beautiful.  Everything in the building smells old.
The rail cars were built by the J.G. Brill and Company of Philadelphia, and in 1962 when the incline was closed - possibly for good, until they got funding for the much needed repairs - the rail cars were completely refurbished, having been stripped of their paint to reveal the original wood.
You can see it here on the seat slats.  It's beautiful and the wood has been worn smooth from years of visitors sliding across it.
The track runs 794 feet up the mountain at a 30.5 degree grade to an elevation of 400 feet.  This is the view looking up the mountain through the screen window in the rail car.
The view toward the city of Pittsburgh is fantastic.  We had the car to ourselves on the way up.  Look how beautiful the interior of the car is.  So simple and so old-fashioned.
The cars travel at six miles per hour and pass each other very closely.  They're also surprisingly quiet considering they're on a track.  The pull up with the cables was extremely smooth and when you get to the top, you can visit the machine room where you'll see the original equipment, still used today, which includes the famous wooden gear teeth on the hoisting wheels.
Here is a view of the tracks looking down to the station located on Carson Street.  A round-trip ticket is only five dollars.  
The view from the top of Mt. Washington has been rated by USA Today's USA Weekend as the best urban vista (and the second most beautiful vista) in America.  In this photo you're looking at what's known as the "Golden Triangle", downtown Pittsburgh.  The river to your right is the Monongahela, the one you can't see on the left is the Allegheny, and in the middle (the left of the "point" in this photo) is where they come together to form the Ohio River. 
This is one of only a few inclines left in the country.  It's not all that exciting, it's not like some kind of amusement park ride, and there really isn't even anything to do at the top - a gift shop and incline museum (of sorts) in the building at the top, and a few upscale restaurants, like Altius, along Grandview Avenue - but I thought it was great.

A short ride up to be able to get this amazing view was well worth five bucks.

And I'd definitely do it again.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
2013: An Extremely Fishy Climate

2012: This I Love
2011: Wooden Shoes, Tulips, And Now This?
Universal AND Contagious
Ed Smiles With The Pasties Girl Friday
Who Needs A Man When You Have A Kindle??
Phone Calls And Fellatio
Color Ring
We Go All Out!


Gil said...

I can't believe how beautiful Pittsburgh looks in all of your pictures. When I hear Pittsburgh the first thing that comes to my mind is what a filthy city it was to live in. Even filthier than Jackson Heights in Queens (where my mother's family lived) and daBronx where my fathers family lived. My parents got married in Dec, 1942 and shortly thereafter the army assigned my dad to a hospital in Pittsburgh. I can still hear my mother describing the coal dust that invaded their apartment when they opened windows. How the clothes were dirtier after bring them in from the clothes line than before she washed them! The next stop for them was Marion, Indiana where I was born and besides me they had a puppy. the good thing was no coal dust!!! From your pictures it is hard to believe it is the same cit my mother talked about.

Gil said...

Forgot to mention that Anne and I rode a couple of the funiculars when we were in Napoli!!!

The Daily Rant said...

GIL: I was very surprised at how much I enjoyed Pittsburgh. Granted, it was a Sunday when we were there and it was jam-packed with cars and people going to work, etc. but it was cleaner than I expected and I REALLY loved the view from the top of the hill.

I guess living there during the coal dust days probably was pretty hellish on the laundry.

The riverboat cruise was nice took - got a little information from the guide as he pointed out buildings and landmarks and gave some history about the bridges and other stuff in the town. Not bad at all.

And I want to ride a funicular in Italy too!