The Monongahela Incline, more commonly referred to by locals as the Mon Incline, is one of one of two remaining inclines in the Pittsburgh area, serving as one the city’s distinctive and recognizable features. The incline, located near the Smithfield Street Bridge, is 635 feet long, 367.4 feet high, and has a 78% grade along with a breathtaking view of the Pittsburgh cityscape and the Monongahela River. The Mon Incline “is the oldest continuously operating funicular railway in the U.S.” (“Monongahela Incline”). It opened in 1870, but still operates today, taking several daily riders to and from the city as well as visitors on a historic sightseeing view of the city.
Backstory and Context
By the 1860s “Pittsburgh was a rapidly expanding industrial city with most of its factories and mills located along the river flats. In a time when most people walked to work, homes quickly filled in the areas surrounding these industries and the need for additional housing within a short distance of their work caused people to begin living atop nearby Mount Washington” (“Monongahela Incline”), a city that lacked good roads and proper public transportation. German immigrants relayed the idea of inclines that functioned in their home country.
The Monongahela Incline was completed in 1870 for a total cost of $50,000 and finally provided the people in Mount Washington with quick access to the city. Port Authority took care and control of the incline in 1964 and it was dedicated as a historic structure in 1970. The Monongahela Incline serves over 1500 daily riders today.
"Monongahela and Duquesne Inclines." American Society of Mechanical Engineers." May 11, 1977. Accessed December 9, 2016. https://www.asme.org/getmedia/b75a1e86-ea30-475d-a66a-365f03f2a2d9/26-Monongahela-Incline-1870.aspx
"The Monongahela Incline." Brookline Connection. Accessed December 9, 2016. http://www.brooklineconnection.com/history/Facts/MonIncline.html