Looking southward on the Smithfield Street Bridge from Fort Pitt Boulevard, with the Monongahela Incline beginning its descent in the background.
The Station Square subway station was built in the 1980s, when the streetcars were diverted from the Smithfield Street Bridge to the Panhandle Bridge and into the subway downtown.
Even though it’s clearly above the ground, this is the end of the section of combined trolley lines that Pittsburghers call the “subway.” From here the outbound streetcars go underground into the Mount Washington tunnel, but that’s not a subway. That’s just trolleys running underground. You need to be a Pittsburgh native to follow the logic.
This old school is now a community center for Bethel Park. In front is a Pittsburgh PCC car, the ideal Art Deco streetcar that dominated Pittsburgh transit for a generation, restored to its Pittsburgh Street Railways livery. (It was one of the last PCC cars to run in Pittsburgh, and had been repainted in the 1980s Port Authority livery.) Yes, we do have quite a few pictures of it, because old Pa Pitt is an unashamed fan of PCC cars, which always look to him like trolleys that would run on the planet Mongo in the old Flash Gordon serials. More modern, but less futuristic, trolleys still run on the Silver Line just a block away.
It used to be a common sight all over the city: “catenary,” the complex assembly of wires hanging over the street to power the streetcars. The complexity comes from the necessity of keeping the wires that actually provide power almost straight (so that the pantograph on the trolley is always touching them), which can be done only by bracing them and pulling them from all directions.
The only long sections of live street trackage left in Pittsburgh are Broadway in Beechview, seen here, and the Brown Line, which is not in regular service but takes the other lines over Mount Washington (via Warrington and Arlington Avenues) when the Transit Tunnel is closed for maintenance. There you can still examine live catenary and marvel at the geometry of it.
A southbound Siemens trolley and a northbound CAF trolley cross Castle Shannon Boulevard in the middle of Castle Shannon.