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California Avenue Bridge

California Avenue Bridge

Primary Photographer(s): Nathan Holth and Rick McOmber

Bridge Documented: August 2, 2007

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Facility Carried / Feature Intersected
California Avenue Over Farragut Street and Jacks Run
Pittsburgh: Allegheny County, Pennsylvania: United States
Structure Type
Concrete Open Spandrel Deck Arch, Fixed and Approach Spans: Concrete Slab, Fixed
Construction Date and Builder / Engineer
1925 By Builder/Contractor: John F. Casey Company of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Rehabilitation Date
Not Available or Not Applicable
Main Span Length
320.0 Feet (97.5 Meters)
Structure Length
770.0 Feet (234.7 Meters)
Roadway Width
38 Feet (11.58 Meters)
1 Main Span(s) and 14 Approach Span(s)
Inventory Number

Historic Significance Rating (HSR)
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Bridge Documentation

View Archived National Bridge Inventory Report - Has Additional Details and Evaluation

Pittsburgh has many concrete arch bridges, however this one is particularly noteworthy because unlike many examples, it retains a high degree of historic integrity. The bridge features attractive aesthetic design. On-bridge views, not yet available on this website, include decorative pylons with eagle sculptures and plaques. The arch itself features a design that includes sub-arches that compliment the arch as a whole. The bridge retains original Allegheny County standard plan period railings.

Information and Findings From Pennsylvania's Historic Bridge Inventory

Discussion of Bridge

The 15-span, 770'-long bridge built in 1924 is composed of a 320'-long, ribbed, open spandrel arch span and 14 concrete slab approach spans. It is supported on concrete abutments and concrete column and cap beam bents. Plain spandrel columns support concrete floorbeams and a concrete slab deck. The bridge has Allegheny County standard design steel railings. Obelisks topped by eagles are at each corner. The bridge, with its arch crown approximately 140' from the ground, is a long and well-proportioned example of its type and design. It is the most complete of the 13 identified examples in Allegheny County from 1912 to 1950. Many examples have lost their original railings and architectural features. When built, the bridge was the longest of all of the county's open spandrel arch spans. The public works department would continue to push the limits of the technology, eventually culminating in the world's longest example, the George Westinghouse Bridge (1931). The bridge illustrates well the aesthetic appeal of the open spandrel arch type and design in urban settings. The individual historic and technological significance of this example is further enhanced by its setting in an 1880-1930 residential area that appears to be a potential historic district.

Discussion of Surrounding Area

The viaduct carries a 2 lane street and sidewalks over stream and local road on the Pittsburgh-Bellevue line. It appears to be within a potential historic district composed predominantly Queen Anne and Colonial Revival-style residences from 1880 to 1930 located on both sides of the Jacks Run ravine. The architecturally significant district developed as a railroad/streetcar suburb of Pittsburgh. The only notable infill buildings are four post-WW II residences near the east end of the bridge. The bridge, built within the period of significance, would contribute to the historic district.

Bridge Considered Historic By Survey: Yes


Photo Galleries and Videos: California Avenue Bridge


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Maps and Links: California Avenue Bridge

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Bridgehunter.com: View listed bridges within 0.5 miles (0.8 kilometers) of this bridge.

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HistoricBridges.org Bridge Browser: View listed bridges within 10 miles (16 kilometers) of this bridge.

2021 National Bridge Inventory: View listed bridges within 0.5 miles (0.8 kilometers) of this bridge.

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