Tag: Streetcars

  • Corner Store in Beechview

    Corner Store

    Pittsburgh neighborhoods used to be full of little corner groceries. Most disappeared when big chain supermarkets took over the grocery trade. But occasionally a neighborhood store succeeds; this one in Beechview moved into a storefront that was vacant for some time and seems to be making a go of it.

    Of course it used to be that your average corner grocery was only four or five steps from a streetcar line. That is no longer true in most places, but it is still true in Beechview.

    Shiras stop on the Red Line
  • Dormont Junction

    Dormont Junction

    Dormont Junction ceased to be a junction in the 1960s, but the Pittsburgh trolley system is crusty with tradition, and the name has never been changed—in spite of occasional attempts by the Port Authority to call the station “Dormont.” The current station was designed in the 1980s, and like most of the stations put up then it is utilitarian to the point of ugliness. Above, two Red Line cars pass; below, a closer view, showing the 1980s-vintage T-in-a-circle sign at the entrance.

    Dormont Junction

    Dormont Junction is at the north end of the Mount Lebanon subway tunnel, which is never called a “subway” by real Pittsburghers, to whom “subway” means the section of four underground stations, one ground-level station, and two elevated stations from Station Square to Allegheny.

    Tunnel entrance
  • Station Square Station

    Station Square station

    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.

    Station Square station

    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.

    Station Square station
    Trolley leaving Station Square
    Trolley leaving Station Square
  • PCC Car and Schoolhouse, Bethel Park

    Schoolhouse Arts & History Center

    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.

    PCC car
    PCC car
    Schoolhouse
  • Catenary

    Broadway in Beechview

    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.

  • Castle Shannon

    Castle Shannon

    The center of Castle Shannon is the intersection of Castle Shannon Boulevard and Willow Avenue, which carries the trolley line. The only way to get a good visual impression of this oddly shaped business district is with a series of broad panoramas.

    Trolley crossing Castle Shannon Boulevard
  • Trolleys Passing in Castle Shannon

    A southbound Siemens trolley and a northbound CAF trolley cross Castle Shannon Boulevard in the middle of Castle Shannon.

  • Streetcar Stopping at Hampshire, Beechview

    Streetcar stopping at Hampshire

    An inbound Siemens SD-400 trolley stops at the Hampshire stop in Beechview. This is another streetcar picture for Red Line riders to enjoy while we wait for the repairs to the Saw Mill Run viaduct. And, by the way, Las Palmas across the street is an excellent place to find Latin American specialties as well as general American supermarket groceries.

  • Silver Line Trolley in Castle Shannon

    Silver Line car crossing Castle Shannon Boulevard

    The only active street trackage left in the Pittsburgh streetcar system is on Broadway in Beechview, and on Warrington and Arlington Avenues when the cars are detoured over the top of the hill instead of through the Transit Tunnel. But there are several sections of what we might call semi-street trackage, where the trolleys run in a separate right-of-way either beside or in the middle of the street. Willow Avenue in Castle Shannon is one of them: half the street is reserved for trolleys. Here a Silver Line car crosses Castle Shannon Boulevard.

  • Broadway and Beechview Avenue, Beechview

    Broadway in Beechview

    Beechview is something unique in Pittsburgh and very rare in the United States: an early-twentieth-century streetcar suburb where the streetcars still run down the main street as they did when the neighborhood was first laid out. The central business district has had its ups and downs; right now it is a good place to find interesting little ethnic restaurants and groceries. Most of the neighborhood is laid out as a grid in spite of the precipitous hills, but Broadway, the street with the car line, follows the top of the ridge. Beechview Avenue (below) continues the straight line of the business district as Broadway curves off toward the Fallowfield streetcar viaduct and abruptly ends at Fallowfield Avenue, leaving the streetcars to continue on their own right-of-way.

    Storefronts on Beechview Avenue

    Following the ancient tradition that the street with the tracks belongs to the streetcar company, the Port Authority is responsible for maintaining Broadway.

    Streetcar service in Beechview is interrupted right now because the Saw Mill Run viaduct has been closed for emergency repairs. The Red Line will roll up Broadway again as soon as the bridge reopens.