Mount Washington (Pittsburgh)

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Mount Washington
Neighborhood of Pittsburgh
Former Borough
View of Central Business District from Mt. Washington
View of Central Business District from Mt. Washington
Pgh locator mount washington.svg
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Country United States
State Pennsylvania
County Allegheny County
City Pittsburgh
 • Total 1.139 sq mi (2.95 km2)
Population (2010)[1]
 • Total 8,799
 • Density 7,700/sq mi (3,000/km2)

Mount Washington is a neighborhood in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania's south city area. It has a zip code of 15211 and has representation on Pittsburgh City Council by both the council members for District 3 (Central South Neighborhoods) and District 2 (West Neighborhoods).

It is known for its steep hill overlooking the Pittsburgh skyline, which was rated the most beautiful vista in America by USA Weekend (and the best urban vista);[2] its funiculars, the Duquesne and Monongahela Inclines, which are the oldest continuous inclines in the world; and for the row of upscale restaurants paralleling the crest of Mount Washington, the hill the community sits upon. The neighborhood is also known as the home of Autumn House Press, one of the leading literary publishers in the United States.

History of Mount Washington

A view of Mount Washington from Bigbee Street

In the early history of Pittsburgh, Mount Washington was known as Coal Hill, but Coal Hill was actually on the south bank of the Monongahela River.[3] Easy access to the Pittsburgh coal seam's outcrop near the base of Mt. Washington allowed several mines to operate there. Also, rock was quarried from the hill. Gray sandstone, for example, was quarried at Coal Hill for the second Allegheny County Courthouse.

By 1876, the name had been changed to Mount Washington,[4] and a year later, the view of the City of Pittsburgh was first drawn from Mt. Washington.[5] Virtually all photos of the Pittsburgh skyline are from Mt. Washington, due to the elevation of the hill overlooking the river valley and Downtown Pittsburgh below.[6]


File:P. & L.E. Ry. Pittsburgh and Lake Erie Railroad station and Mt. Washington, Pittsburgh, Pa. c.1905.jpg
P. & L.E. Ry. Pittsburgh and Lake Erie Railroad station and the Monongahela Incline on Mt. Washington, c.1905

The original switchback trails that wound up the steep slopes of Mt. Washington were barely passable to a team of horses pulling a loaded wagon. Immigrants, predominantly from Germany, settled Mount Washington by the early 19th century and worked in the plants adjacent to the Monongahela River. They became weary of climbing steep footpaths and steps to their homes, from the river valley, after work. They remembered the Seilbahns (inclines) of their former country, and proposals were advanced to construct one or more of them along Coal Hill. The Monongahela Incline was the first of these to be built in 1869–1870. The Duquesne Incline opened to the public in May 1877, and it was one of four inclined planes climbing Mount Washington that carried passengers and freight to the residential area that had spread along the top of the bluff. As the hilltop communities were virtually inaccessible by any other means, many of Pittsburgh's inclines carried horses and wagons as well as foot passengers. All carried some light freight. A third incline, the Castle Shannon Incline, which closed in 1964, also served the hilltop community on Mt. Washington with a lower station at the corner of East Carson Street and Arlington Avenue, just east of the present Station Square Transit Station. This incline was closed by its owner, the Pittsburgh Railways Company, just prior to all of their streetcar and bus routes being taken over by the Port Authority.

The Monongahela and Duquesne Inclines allow access to Mt. Washington's overlook of the downtown area of Pittsburgh. Tourists marvel at the view while riding two of only a few remaining inclines in the country. The inclines remain the best way for thousands of Pittsburghers on Mt. Washington to get to their jobs, entertainment and shopping in downtown Pittsburgh and Station Square.

Chatham Village

One of the most famous examples of the early-twentieth century Garden City Movement communities is on Mt. Washington. Chatham Village is a compact neighborhood of townhomes and gardens on the far south end of Mt. Washington.

Pittsburgh sign

In the 1930s, a huge neon billboard sign, 226 feet wide and 30 feet high, was erected on the Mount Washington hillside near the Duquesne Incline tracks. Its earliest known advertisers were Iron City Beer, Clark's Teaberry Gum and WTAE-TV Channel 4. In 1967, the Alcoa aluminum company took over the sign and changed its plain background into a gray-and-white mosaic font pattern that spelled out PITTSBURGH when seen in the daytime, giving the sign new popularity. Alcoa became the sign's most well-known advertiser, remaining for the next 25 years. In 1992, Miles Laboratories moved their U.S. headquarters from Elkhart, Indiana to Pittsburgh and became the sign's new advertiser. In April 1995, the Miles brand name was absorbed by its parent company, Bayer AG. Since then, the sign has featured the Bayer name and its circular cross logo. Bayer AG declined to renew their lease on the sign in 2014. As of May 2015, Lamar Advertising and the City of Pittsburgh were in disagreement over the proper use and maintenance responsibilities of the sign.[7]


The area is served by the Pittsburgh Bureau of Fire house number 27, equipped with a new 75-foot (23 m) Pierce Quint engine.[8]

Surrounding Pittsburgh neighborhoods

Allentown, Beechview, Beltzhoover, Duquesne Heights, South Shore

Beneath Mt. Washington

The first tunnel through Mt. Washington was the Pittsburgh and Castle Shannon Tunnel, which began life as a coal mine but was extended through from the Mt. Washington Coal Incline to Saw Mill Run in 1861. This was followed by the Mount Washington Transit Tunnel for Pittsburgh Railways and Wabash Tunnel for the Wabash Pittsburgh Terminal Railway, both in opening in 1904. The former continues in use by Pittsburgh Light Rail and the latter as an High Occupancy Vehicle tunnel.

The Liberty Tunnel through Mt. Washington opened in 1928.

The Fort Pitt Tunnel beneath and through Mt. Washington opened September 1, 1960.


View of the Pittsburgh city from Grandview Avenue during the day.
View of the Pittsburgh city from Grandview Avenue at night.

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 "PGHSNAP 2010 Raw Census Data by Neighborhood". Pittsburgh Department of City Planning PGHSNAP Utility. 2012. Retrieved 24 June 2013. External link in |publisher= (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. "The 10 Most Beautiful Places in America". USA Weekend. May 18, 2003. Retrieved 2009-08-01.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>[dead link]
  6. 1908 Panoramic photo
  7. Sheehan, Andy. "Reporter". Pittsburgh, May 2015: KDKA-TV. Retrieved 2 June 2015.CS1 maint: location (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. "Firehouse No. 27 - Mt. Washington – Zone 4 – 27 Engine (Quint)/XQ27". Retrieved December 8, 2009.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links

Media related to Mount Washington (Pittsburgh) at Wikimedia Commons