Gulf Filling Station 1913

Good Gulf Gasoline Filling Station

In December 1913, Gulf Refining Company opened the nation’s first drive-in service station at the corner of Baum Boulevard and St. Clair Street in Pittsburgh.  The pagoda-style brick facility offered free air, water, crankcase service, and tire and tube installation.  On its first day, the station sold 30 gallons of gasoline at 27 cents per gallon. On its first Saturday, Gulf’s new service station pumped 350 gallons of gasoline.

It was no surprise that Gulf decided to open its filling station on Baum Blvd.  It had become known as “automobile row” for the numerous dealerships and service stations.  You can see them clearly on the 1925 map.  The East Liberty station also was the first to pass out the free road maps produced by Gulf and used as a marketing tool.  1915 road mapMaps of PA has a great site dedicated to the Automotive road maps, with Pennsylvania ones from 1915 to 1929.

Go to the Pittviewer and look at the 1925 map of the filling station site.


Exposition Park 1890-1915

Exposition Park III in 1905

There have been 3 incarnations of Exposition Park, the lower field (1882), the upper field (1883), and Exposition Park III (1890). In 1875, the first Allegheny Exposition was held in a hall on the flats along the north shore of the Allegheny River. The Exposition’s goals were to promote Pittsburgh, display local products, and to provide some entertainment. In addition to the hall, there was some open space where horse races, circuses, and concerts were held.Expo Building in 1882

The American Association Alleghenies played baseball games here, in these open fields, starting in 1882.

The Upper Field was hastily created when the lower field (closer to the river) flooded in 1883. Tired of the ballfields on the flood plain, the Alleghenies moved to higher ground at Recreation Park in 1884. The exhibit halls on this Exposition Park site burned down in 1883 and were later rebuilt across the river on the Point.

With the North Side site now largely unoccupied, the new Players League built Exposition Park III very near the site of Three Rivers Stadium in 1890. The Player’s League folded after just one season, and the National League Pirates moved into the park in 1891.

The stadium could seat 10,000 and was quite spatious- 450’ to center and 400’ down the foul lines- typical of the deadball era.

Exposition Field during a 1904 flood

Flooding was always a concern and during  a game on July 4, 1902, water covered much of the outfield creating a new rule for the game- anything hit in the water was a ground rule single.

In 1903, Exposition Park was the first National League ballpark to host a World Series game.  The Pittsburgh Pirates played games 4,5,6 and 7 of the 8 game series here, and eventually lost to the Boston Americans 5 games to 3.

Rooters at the 1903 World Series

With the river being so close to the stadium, flooding remained a big issue.  Eventually, owner Barney Dreyfuss decided he needed a new ballpark and from there, Forbes Field was born.

See how the Exposition Grounds look on the maps here.

Where are all the bodies?

This was a question posed by Diana Nelson Jones in her City Walkabout blog.  When she was looking at the maps on the Pittviewer site, one of the first questions was about the old graveyards and cemeteries that seem to suddenly vanish over time.  Great question!  Where did all of the bodies go??  Let’s take a look at some of those sites.

“Oakland” Cemetery  [see it on the map]

Oakland Cemetery

The First German Evangelical-Lutheran Cemetery was the official name for the cemetery located between Allequippa, Morgan and Berthoud streets in Oakland.  It was locally called the Oakland Cemetery and even appears as such on some of the Hopkins maps.

Oakland Cemetery in 1904

“That property was purchased as the highest point on the then eastern boundary of the city so that our blessed dead might await the resurrection and be the first in the city to see the return of our Lord. The cemetery dates prior to 1847 when Pastor Godfrey Jensen died on February 19 of that year and was interred in “our Oakland cemetery” according to the church history. That cemetery was used solely by our congregation and was not a public cemetery up until the sale of the property c. 1962.”

Pastor Spittel, September, 2002 

In 1962, the land was sold to the University of Pittsburgh and the graves were-interred to the Oakland section of the Mount Royal Cemetery in Shaler Township.

Boyd’s Hill cemetery   [see it on the map]

Boyd's Hill Cemetery 1872

This cemetery was located next to Mercy hospital on the intersection of Stevenson and Locust Avenues.  This was one of a few cemeteries in the city for St. Mary’s Catholic Church.  However, with the city growing rapidly, there became need to expand and the church purchased land in Lawenceville that became St. Mary’s Cemetery.  Over time, as the hospital grew, all of the graves were transferred over to St. Mary’s.  As of 2008, there have been 100,298 interments in St. Mary’s.

The Forbes Public School was built on part of that cemetery in 1855.  According to the Historic Pittsburgh site: The school was built in 1855 and was closed in October 1973 when it was sold to Mercy Hospital. The third floor of Forbes School was given over to the Adult and Immigrant School. This school, the only day school of its kind in western Pennsylvania, had 175 students from 28 countries and seven teachers. In 1974 the school was razed to make way for a parking garage for Mercy Hospital.

Forbes Public School

Lincoln Memorial Cemetery     [see it on the map]

This cemetery was located in a predominately African-American area in Pittsburgh and on some of the old maps is labeled as a Colored Cemetery.  In 1933, part of the grounds were closed to make way for Greenlee Field, which became home to the Pittsburgh Crawfords, one of the best negro league teams in the 1930s which included hall of famers Satchel Paige and Josh Gibson.  The field and the cemetery were closed in 1938 to make way for the new Bedford Dwellings.

This was the first project created by the Housing Authority of the City of Pittsburgh (HACP). The HACP grew from the U.S. Housing Act signed in 1937 and was the first housing authority in both Pennsylvania and the country. Remains from this cemetery were reinterred to Woodlawn Cemetery on Penn Ave in Wilkinsburg in 1938.

Lincoln Cemetery marker

Pittsburgh’s Incline History

A view from the Penn Incline

A view from the Penn Incline

Inclines are in integral part of Pittsburgh’s past and provided much needed benefit to both citizens and businesses.  As the city expanded, there was a serious housing shortage.  Plans called for developing the surrounding hillsides.  Given that most of the “traffic” around Pittsburgh during the late 1800’s was horse cars and pedestrian, the need to traverse the hills around the city led planners and engineers to figure out the best way to get up those steep grades.  The incline was the answer.  There have been 23 different inclines in Pittsburgh’s history, and two still in existence, The Monongahela and the Duquesne.  The Golden Age of these inclines was the turn of the century, and they are clearly visible on the maps.  Most of the early inclines were built by mining companies who had a vested interest in maximizing profits.

Ormsby Mine Gravity Plane (1844-1878)

Route location near the St. Clair Incline – St. Patrick Street to South 21nd Street and Quarry Street – connected to narrow gauge railway – Ormsby (Southside).  Opened in 1838 by John H Page and Captain Phillips. They built a tipple a road along the line of Twenty first street to the base of the hill, a gravity plane and check house and operated to the river trade until 1844. It then remained idle until 1846, and passed into possession of George Leadley.  He operated until 1851 and was succeeded by Dr. Oliver Ormsby, who operated in a small way until 1861, and was then leased by Keeling, Smith and Co. Source here.

Kirk Lewis Coal Incline/Hoist (1854-1876)

Grandview Avenue (formerly High Street) near the present Duquesne Incline – Duquesne Heignts (Mount Washington).  This coal incline was named after Abraham Kirkpatrick Lewis, one of the early pioneers in Pittsburgh coal mining.

The Cray and Company Coal Incline (pre-1872)

Upper station near Junius Street and Camden Street (formerly Catherine Street and Hill Street – Westwood; lower station at Shaler Street – West End Valley (Union Borough).

Clinton Iron Works Coal Incline (pre-1872)

Located on the hillside below Maple Terrace to West Carson Street (formerly Washington Turnpike) near the present Station Square – Mount Washington.

Link to Viewer (Basemaps 1872, 1882, 1903-7, 1910)

Jones and Laughlin Coal Incline (c.1854), length: 1300 ft

Josephine Street between South 29th Street and South 30th Street to Summer Street – Southside Slopes.  Used only for coal.

Link to Viewer (Basemaps 1882, 1903-7, 1910, 1923)


Keeling Incline

Keeling Coal Incline  (1870-1928)

Route similar to lower end of Mount Oliver and Knoxville inclines, along Southside slope – from narrow gauge railroad exiting Keeling Coal Company mines to station at South 12th Street – Southside Slopes.

Link to Viewer (Basemaps 1872, 1882, 1903-7, 1910, 1923)

Monongahela Incline

Monongahela   (1870-present), height: 367.39 ft, length: 635 ft

The Monongahela was the first incline built exclusively with passengers in mind, and probably for good reason.  Its lower station is near the Smithfield Street bridge and allowed people to travel from their homes on Mount Washington (sometimes known as Coal Hill) to businesses downtown.  There was both a passenger and freight service, hauling anything from horses to motor vehicles.  Due to the increase in streetcars and motor vehicles, the freight line was closed in 1935.  During that time the passenger line was upgraded from a steam engine to the more modern electrical version we see today. At a 35 degree grade, it’s one of the steepest in the world.  It is recognized as a National Historic Landmark and as an historic structure by the Pittsburgh History and Landmarks Foundation.

Link to Viewer (Basemaps 1872, 1882, 1903-7, 1910, 1923)

Mount Oliver Incline

Mount Oliver – (1871-1951),  height: 377 ft, length: 1600 ft

Officially known as the South Twelfth Street Inclined Plane – South 12th Street at Freyburg Street to Warrington Avenue – Mount Oliver.  It was designed in 1871 by Prussian engineer John Endres and his daughter Caroline.

Link to Viewer (Basemaps 1872, 1882, 1903-7, 1910, 1923)

Duquesne Incline

Duquesne – (1877-present),  height: 400 ft, length: 800 ft

When it was opened in 1877, it was one of 4 inclines on Coal Hill.  There was a need to connect the people from the residential areas to places of work in the city due to not only lack of transit, but lack of roads in general.  The incline was updated in 1963 due to the efforts of an organization to help save and restore it.  The Society for the Preservation of the Duquesne Heights Incline is a non-profit organization that still exists today.

Link to Viewer (Basemaps 1882, 1903-7, 1910, 1923)

Fort Pitt – (1882-1906), height: 375 ft, length: 2640 ft

The Fort Pitt incline was built in 1882 and was needed to people traveling from the Birmingham Street Bridge. It extended from north end of South Tenth Street Bridge to Bluff Street – Duquesne University Bluff. Traffic became too heavy to maintain the incline and it was closed in 1906.  There is a stairway that connects 2nd Ave to a pedestrian bridge over the Blvd of the Allies.  This stairway is on the site of the old incline.

Link to Viewer (Basemaps 1882, 1903-7, 1910, 1923)

Monongahela Freight Incline

Monongahela Freight – (1883-1935)

Built next to the original passenger incline, it had a unique 10 ft gauge that would allow vehicles, as well as passengers to ascend and descend the hill.  Due to the increase in streetcars and motor vehicles, the freight line was closed in 1935.

Link to Viewer (Basemaps 1903-7, 1910, 1923)

Penn Incline

Penn (17th St) – (1883-1953), height: 330 ft, length: 870 ft

The Penn Incline was also known as the 17th St Incline.  Over Bigelow Boulevard to Liberty Avenue, from Ledlie Street to 17th Street – Hill District. It featured 20 ton cars that hauled coal, freight and passengers.  There is a great before/after picture on the Post-Gazette site. There has been recent talk of reopening/rebuilding this incline to use by pedestrians and bicyclists.

Link to Viewer (Basemaps 1882, 1903-7, 1910, 1923)

St. Clair (22nd St) – (1886-1935), height: 250 ft, length: 2000 ft

South 22nd Street and Josephine Street to Salisbury Street between Fernleaf Street and Sterling Street – St. Clair Village.  This was more of a railway than incline, as it was on the ground most of the way.  The incline carried both passengers and freight.

Link to Viewer (Basemaps 1903-7, 1910, 1923)

Nunnery Hill – (1887-1899)

The first curved track incline in Pittsburgh   It ran from Federal Street at Henderson Street (formerly Fairmount Street), North Side, to Catoma Street near Meadville Street (formerly Clyde Street).  There is recent activity about protecting one of the incline’s walls and the lower station here and here.

Troy Hill – (1887-1898), length: 370 ft

near end of old 30th Street Bridge to Lowrie Street at Ley Street, west of Lofink Street and Rialto Street (formerly Ravine Street) – Troy Hill.  This incline is unique in that it was one of only a few on the northside and had a 47 degree gradient.

Link to Viewer (Basemaps 1903-7, 1910)

Bellevue and Davis Island – (1887-1892)

This was not an incline in the way we think about it today, but was the first passenger railway service in Pittsburgh.  This was the first of its kind in the city.  However, it was not in operation for long, closing only a few years after it opened.  Dilworth Run ravine, from South Starr and West Bellevue following abandoned course of Oak Street to Ohio River at Davis Island.  The incline was sold at auction in 1889 for $23,000.  The sale was stated as result of mismanagement (Pittsburgh Dispatch, April 2, 1889)

Ridgewood – (1889-1900)

Not much of this incline is known.  It was only in operation for a short time and burned down in 1900.  Charles Street North (formerly Taggart Street) near Nixon Street to Ridgewood Street at Yale Street – Perry Hilltop.

Knoxville Incline

Knoxville – (1890-1960), height: 375 ft, length: 2644 ft

Officially known as the Pittsburgh Incline Plane – South 11th Street at Bradish Street to Warrington Avenue and Knoxville Avenue – The second incline in Pittsburgh with a curved track – Knoxville.

there was an 18 degree curve in the middle, which was rare to see in inclines. Each car weighed 10 tons and carried passengers and vehicles.

Link to Viewer (Basemaps 1903-7, 1910, 1923)

Castle Shannon Incline

Castle Shannon – (1890-1964), length: 1350 ft

The Castle Shannon incline was built as a means of moving passengers over Mount Washington, rather than using the Castle Shannon tunnel, which was used to move coal.  The route ran from East Carson Street near Arlington Avenue to Bailey Street – Mount Washington.  The large cars on the Castle Shannon incline could transport both passengers and automobiles.  It was originally steam powered, and was converted to electric in 1918.

Link to Viewer (Basemaps 1903-7, 1910, 1923)

Castle Shannon South

Castle Shannon South – (1892-1914)

This was also known as Castle Shannon Incline Number 2.  It ran from Warrington Avenue to Bailey Street  in Mount Washington, more of an extension of the first Castle Shannon line. Due to the increased pedestrian traffic on streetcars, the incline was closed in 1914.

Link to Viewer (Basemaps 1903-7, 1910, 1923)

Clifton – (1895-1905)

The incline rode from Strauss Street (formerly Metcalf Street and Myrtle Street) on North Side to Clifton Park (Chautauqua Street) – Perry Hilltop in Manchester.  There is an old Press article that mentioned the Clifton incline had an accident in 1905 that resulted in the “smashing of a nearby house” but there are were no casualties.

Link to Viewer (Basemaps 1903-7, 1910, 1923)

Norwood – (1901-1923)

This incline was originally free to use and then later charged a penny and became known as the “Penny Incline.”  It ran from Island Avenue near Adrian Street to Desiderio Avenue between McKinnie Avenue and Highland Avenue – McKees Rocks/Stowe.

Link to Viewer (Basemap 1923)

Read more about the builders of these inclines from the Tribune Review

Resources used for research:

History of the Duquesne Incline

The Brookline Connection

Pittsburgh Inclines Tribute