The Monongahela Incline: A Pittsburgh Icon
The recently refurbished Monongahela Incline was built in 1870 by engineer John J. Endres, and has been in nearly continuous use for a century and a half. It was the first passenger funicular railway built in the United States. Added to The National Register of Historic Places in 1977, this icon of Pittsburgh history was built to transport workers up and down "Coal Hill" which was otherwise almost inaccessible from the city proper. "Coal Hill" is now known as Mount Washington.
Pittsburgh is renowned for its spectacular cityscape views, and there are no better places to experience them from than the upper stations of The Mon Incline and its sibling The Duquesne Incline, which is located a bit less than a mile west, up the aptly named Grandview Avenue.
As you travel up or down the incline, you can still see the remnants of a much larger freight incline that ran parallel to the passenger incline until about 1935. The larger incline was capable of transporting horse-drawn freight, and later, motor vehicles. Though only two inclines survive, Pittsburgh was once home to almost two dozen inclines, which provided Pittsburgh residents and their vehicles access to neighborhoods above the steep hills that surround the city.
You can walk along Grandview Ave. to get to the Duquesne Incline a little less than a mile away, but if you're thinking of going up one and coming down the other, you should be aware that there is a fairly good-sized hill that you'll have to walk up between them. A better plan might be to visit the nearby Mount Washington neighborhood that's a short walk from the top terminal of the Mon Incline. On Shiloh Street you'll find Difiore's Ice Cream shop along with some great eateries for every budget where you'll be able to grab a bite and a beverage in the "real" Pittsburgh.