Sunday, February 17, 2008

Millvale St. Bridge reopens.....where is the Flying Fraction?

A note of very local interest, but I really don't believe everyone who cares knows that the Millvale St. Bridge has reopened after almost a year of reconstruction. It must have finished early. I really suspect I have gone over that bridge more times than most anyone alive, or at least anyone my age or less.

But on an historical note just a tad older than I am. Here is a great picture of a chartered streetcar along the Flying Fraction route (routes 54/77), so named by the late Rege Cordic, while traversing the bridge. The Flying Fraction would also be memorialized by no less than sportswriter Frank Deford in this essay on Pittsburgh boxer Billy "The Pittsburgh Kid" Conn in: The Boxer and the Blonde. Mentioned in that essay is how Conn "loafs with" legendary Pittsburgh streetfighter Joey Diven, who was the father of current politico and former councilman/state rep Michael Diven. Not only that, but that is said to be a Barry Goldwater for President sign on the side. Can you roll up so much history in a single picture? I honestly have no recollection of streetcars on S. Millvale St., but I do remember when the actual streetcar tracks were still extant. And many know the pitfalls of driving on streetcar tracks embedded in the roadway especially in snow and ice.

You can buy scans of this image and lots of others at Mcnally's railroad collectables. (update: many more streetcar pictures are in the Pittsburgh Railways Co. section of Pitt's digital archives.)

and just to continue the stream of conscience, there is a new bio of Billy Conn out just last month:

11 Comments:

Blogger Matthew said...

Thanks for the McNally link. Those are some pretty good pictures!

Sunday, February 17, 2008 11:45:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

(1) 54C riders can rejoice that at least one bridge on their route has reopened.

(2) Couple of things struck me about the cool McNally photos. One, I had no idea how many main routes and bridges once had streetcar tracks. Wow! Two, the amount of advertising is impressive. I especially liked the Mohawk Airlines adv. I still think that it had the coolest livery going. Too bad USeless Airways didn't bring back a Mohawk plane as one of its "heritage" paint jobs.

(3) Did the City save the historic metalwork on the sides of the bridge's pedestrian walkways (like the 31st Street Bridge) to ditch it for the ugly modern concrete (like the Panther Hollow Bridge on the Allies)?

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