Three Sisters Bridges
The people of Pittsburgh see the Three Sisters Bridges as a vital aspect of the city’s beauty and history. Built between 1924 and 1928, the three bridges are similarly designed and side-by-side which make them unique compared to other bridges in the United States. The Three Sisters Bridges are named after an athlete, an artist, and an environmentalist.
Backstory and Context
The Three Sisters Bridges, located over the Alleghany river connecting downtown Pittsburgh and the North Side, are the only three identical bridges in the United States. Built by the American Bridge Company in the 1920s, the bridges have a unique and complex design made from steel. They are constructed using large steel eye-bar suspension systems to hold the compressive forces of the bridges. In 2008, planning for multiple rehabilitations of the bridges began. By 2014, engineering started on the three “Aztec gold” bridges, costing nearly $25 million per bridge.
The Robert Clemente Bridge was completed in 1928 and is located on Sixth Street. The year it was established, it was voted the Most Beautiful Steel Bridge by the American Institute of Steel Construction. The bridge is nearest to Point State Park and the PNC Park. On Pirates game day, the bridge is closed so that fans can flood the bridge to walk over to the park. Over the years, couples have placed “love locks” on the panels of the bridge as a public display of their love.
Located on Seventh Street, the Andy Warhol Bridge was completed in 1926. This bridge is dedicated to the famous artist, Andy Warhol. He lived in Pittsburgh most of his life but traveled to New York to pursue his dreams. Warhol was an iconic Pop artist in the 1960s, creating many paintings related to advertisement. A well-known painting of his is Campbell’s Soup Cans created in 1962. This bridge is the middle of the Sisters Bridges and runs near the Andy Warhol Museum.
The Rachel Carson Bridge was completed in 1926 and is located on Ninth Street. Rachel Carson was a marine biologist, author, and environmentalist who grew up in Springdale, Pennsylvania. The bridge runs near her Springdale home. Environmentalists Andrea Polli and Rod Gdovic collaborated on a project they called Energy Flow to display onto the Rachel Carson Bridge. The project is a temporary light display powered by light and wind. Generated by sixteen wind turbines, over 27,000 multicolored LED lights on cables are displayed from the bridge after dark each night throughout the holiday season.
Culgan, Rossilynne. All About Pittsburgh's Three Sisters Bridges: The Three Identical Bridges Span the Allegheny River. About Travel. Accessed May 1, 2017. http://pittsburgh.about.com/od/roads/fl/All-About-Pittsburghs-Three-Sisters-Bridges.htm.
“Energy Flow” Lighting on the Rachel Carson Bridge. Riverlife. 2017. Accessed May 1, 2017. http://riverlifepgh.org/riverfront-guide/energyflow/.
Andy Warhol. The Art Story. 2017. Accessed May 1, 2015. http://www.theartstory.org/artist-warhol-andy.htm.