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Wed Dec 21, 2011, 06:38 PM


Pittsburgh wants to re-install the old Penn Incline between the Hill and the Strip for bicyclists

I first posted this on the Mass Transit forum, but no responses so I am re-posting it here to see if any bicyclists have any comment on the plan. The Johnstown Incline has always taken bicycles, the older Pittsburgh Inclines did not till recently (And then only the Monongahela Incline NOT the Duquesne).

I first read about in the Pittsburgh Business new web site:


Actual City "Request for QUALIFICATIONS" on a new Incline for the Strip district, this is just a request to do the study on the strip district includes the Incline as a transportation option but that is all:

Another city site where the option is mentioned, and that is all:

From what I have read, the actual study will not start til April 2012 and be a six month study on all transportation options, including bike trails, a commuter railway and the Incline (among other transportation options).

We need to get input into the study. The old Penn Incline, which till 1952 ran between the Hill District and the Strip District was a massive incline, designed to haul wagons, in addition to passengers, from the Strip district to the Hill District. The horse draw wagons would then only have to go down hill to Oakland, Shadyside and the rest of Pittsburgh between the Monongahela and Allegheny Rivers.

Such an incline would be a big boom to bicyclists. it would be a lot easier to bike to the Strip district, take the incline up to the Hill District and then peddle home, then peddling up Center Street or Fifth Avenue.

My fear is the incline the City will opt for would be a variation of the one the National Park Service did at horseshoe curve in Altoona. That incline is nothing but an elevator car, for that is how large it is inside, the size of a medium size elevator. Such an incline could take, at best two to three bicyles along with its "normal" passenger load.

I would prefer a larger, Vehicular incline (like the surviving Johnstown Incline) as opposed to a small passenger incline as at Horseshoe curve and even the much larger passenger inclines in Pittsburgh (The Monongahela and Duquesne Incline).

Now, the incline does NOT have to be a re-build of the old Penn Incline that was torn down in the early 1950s. Given that the upper base of the old Penn Incline is a home in the Hill District and the lower base a business on Liberty Avenue, it would be better to move the incline to another location. I propose the parking lot opposite Wholley and behind St Patrick's church. You could build it to go over the Church and thus no need tear the old stone church down.

As to the actual design, I see no reason to go with the actual Penn incline original design, the Swiss have rebuild several of their incline, some with quite modern design. Given the tight room in the Strip District, an option may be to have one track till the point the two incline cars meet, and then have two tracks as their pass each other. This design would permit SIDE DOORS on BOTH SIDES of the car for people to enter and exit. A little more complex is actual design and maintenance but given the ability to use BOTH sides a huge advantage. I would also permit front and rear doors, but only use the door that does NOT open to the incline track. If you use modern glass sliding doors you can have a very modern look. With Air Conditioning (With the electrical power via a hidden access line) no need for any open windows, such as are on the Pittsburgh Incline that survive to this day OR the completely open design of Johnstown Incline (and the old Vehicular inclines of Pittsburgh).

Here is an Photo of the old Penn Incline:


Here is the Johnstown Incline, notice how open it is, the old Penn Incline was the same design:


Here are photos of the DUQUESNE Incline:

Monongahela incline:


Horseshoe Curve incline:

Here is a modern Swiss incline, rebuilt in 2009:


Cite for more on such inclines, called Funiculars:


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Reply Pittsburgh wants to re-install the old Penn Incline between the Hill and the Strip for bicyclists (Original post)
happyslug Dec 2011 OP
Scuba Dec 2011 #1
happyslug Dec 2011 #2
Scuba Dec 2011 #3
RainbowSuperfund Dec 2011 #4
happyslug Jul 2012 #5

Response to happyslug (Original post)

Wed Dec 21, 2011, 07:06 PM

1. I rode an incline in Pittsburgh back in the mid-70's. Man, we were high....


... do you know what incline was in service then?

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Response to Scuba (Reply #1)

Wed Dec 21, 2011, 07:14 PM

2. Same as Today, the Monongahela and Duquesne incline, the rest were shut down in 1964 or earlier


Last edited Fri Dec 23, 2011, 11:33 PM - Edit history (1)

If you all sat in one big compartment, that was the Duquesne, if you were in one with three separate boxes on a car, that was the Monongahela.

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Response to happyslug (Reply #2)

Wed Dec 21, 2011, 07:19 PM

3. Duquesne, then. Thanks. n/t


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Response to happyslug (Original post)

Thu Dec 22, 2011, 12:29 PM

4. Thanks for sharing this Happyslug!

Thanks for sharing this Happyslug! There is so much info here, that I'm going to keep it open to read more links latter. These old inclines are beautiful, (I'm a sucker for an old style wooden train), and without it, that hill would be a trip killer on my bicycle.

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Response to happyslug (Original post)

Fri Jul 6, 2012, 11:37 PM

5. March 2012 Article that includes comments to add a new Incline in Pittsburgh



There was a meeting on June 12, 2012 on transportation in the Strip District, I did NOT attend and can find nothing on want was said in the meeting, bicycle transportation AND the incline is part of what was to be studied, but I have nothing on the actual result of the Study, If I find anything else I will try to post it.

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