A Brief History of Mt. Washington

history of Mt. Washington

Mount Washington is a neighborhood in Pittsburgh’s South Side. It is best known for its steep hill that overlooks the whole Pittsburgh skyline. In its early days, the neighborhood was known as “Coal Hill,” however Coal Hill was actually on the south bank of the Monongahela River. Several mines operated at the base of Mt. Washington and rock was quarried from the hill (including gray sandstone for the Allegheny County Courthouse. In 1876, the name of Mt. Washington was officially born and just one year later, the first drawing of the majestic view of Pittsburgh was made. The hairpin trails that wound around the steep mountain were hardly passable to horses lugging loaded wagons. Mostly German immigrants settled on Mt. Washington and eventually grew fed up with hiking home after work every day. They thought of the inclines (Seilbahns) from back home and they soon constructed the Monongahela Incline in 1870 and later the Duquesne Incline. Those inclines carried horses and wagons as well as pedestrians.

Fun Facts

history of Mt. Washington

The Castle Shannon incline was a third incline that closed in 1964. The majority of photos of the Pittsburgh skyline are taken from Mt. Washington due to its perfect view of the city. It was rated the most beautiful vista in America by USA Weekend. Mt. Washington is the home of Autumn House Press, one of the leading literary publishers in the U.S.

The history of Mt. Washington is as crucial as any neighborhood to the history of Pittsburgh.

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