Sunday, November 27, 2011

Reconsidering Hell Again

PBT mentions how the transportation plan for Pittsburgh's Hill District may be considering a new incline as that will connect the uppper parts of the Hill with the Strip District.

My inner civil engineer doubts a new incline will ever be built.  Even in parts of the world with funicular's, they often are not replaced when needed.  They just costs too much to build, let alone maintain. Go ask the Port Authority whether the inclines we have now make money or not.  More typically, and more cost effective, in most circumstances will be built some form of aerial tram.  So maybe that will wind up being the plan.  It is not as if nobody has considered new aerial cable cars in Pittsburgh before.  A recurring plan remarkably. From 2005: Gondola plan swings back into action.

(ed note: yeah, I see the Trib archives are not working.. At least they have not been for me of late. That and all archived links I have are not working either. What is up with that?)

Why would you build an incline or aerial cable car from the Strip District to the upper Hill?  You can make the case and history tells you why.  Just consider the quote all think is such a pejorative for Pittsburgh.   James Parton's 19th century description of Pittsburgh as "Hell with the lid off".  We've covered the misuse of that phrase many times here. Parton was not offering a critique, but was more in awe of the activity and industry he saw looking down upon Pittsburgh from the best view he could find.   It was a commenter here who pointed out to me that the view Parton was looking down upon Pittsburgh from was not Mount Washington as I think myself and many others presumed.  It was from Cliff Street in what is now the Hill District.  There are more than a few blocks with some of the best views of the city right up in parts of the Hill District and improving access might actually make them attractive to new investment. 

It all follows actually from the idea put forward that the Hill District needs better access to the rivers. It was an idea highlighted by Mindy Fullilove in her book Root Shock. Which brings up a bit of a non-sequitur, but Dr. Fullilove has a neat blog documenting her observations of 100 Main Streets in and near New York and beyond. See: Countdown to Main Street.

8 Comments:

Anonymous BrianTH said...

I'm hoping "incline" is intended as a technology-neutral term, and they will be willing to consider something like a gondola system for implementation of the concept.

Sunday, November 27, 2011 11:05:00 AM  
Anonymous MH said...

A chair lift would probably be cheapest.

Sunday, November 27, 2011 11:51:00 AM  
Blogger C. Briem said...

Bosun's chair?

Sunday, November 27, 2011 11:53:00 AM  
Anonymous MH said...

I suppose that slope is too steep for it, but I was thinking of the ski lift type of chair lift.

Sunday, November 27, 2011 2:51:00 PM  
Anonymous n'at said...

the city is in the right frame of mind and on sound financial footing to exhaust resources beyond one person's daydream and reconsider funiculars.

although, at the right speed and operating hours this could be quite the babymaker.

Sunday, November 27, 2011 6:01:00 PM  
Anonymous BrianTH said...

Urban gondolas basically use ski lift technology--I think it is obvious enclosed cabins are the way to go.

Monday, November 28, 2011 9:39:00 AM  
Anonymous MH said...

I'm going to assume Brian's comment is to the immediately preceding comment and is therefore doubly correct.

Monday, November 28, 2011 9:54:00 AM  
Blogger joe said...

The old Hill District to Strip funicular is visible in a detail from that old pen & ink drawing of the city circa 1900.

Monday, November 28, 2011 5:50:00 PM  

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