Monday, December 16, 2013

Ambridge Today: The American Bridge office is coming down, Part 2 - a neighborhood playground

I learned something new about the American Bridge office building since I first posted about its demolition. Adults not only worked there, but children also played there. Not in the building itself, of course (hopefully), but on the lawn, sidewalks, and parking lot.

Those who grew up in the neighborhood near the office remember the grounds as an informal playground, a place for playing games and sports, learning to ride bikes, roller skating, catching lightning bugs, and hunting for nightcrawlers on the lawn.


At least until the guards chased them away.

JP Dieter commented on a late-November photo of the office by Richard Mcfarland posted on the Facebook page "AMBRIDGE MEMORIES WHAT DO YOU REMEMBER" *:

Looking and remembering how much of a playground this property was for Park Road Kids growing up. The grounds in front of the wing to the left was our home football field while the area in front of the wing to the right was our alternate field. The parking lot and front entrance of the building was our Polo Grounds Wiffleball Stadium! Of course this was all dependent on the Plant Guards being busy somewhere else on the grounds or just looking the other way. Also a great place for War, Release the Peddler, fishin worms or just hangin out being a Park Road Kid! 
Al Travis, a blog reader, commented on the same photo: "A sad sight to see for those of us who grew up there. I remember the guards chasing us off when we played football in the yard there." 

Later, when I posted Part 1 of this blog series, Al asked, 
Nancy, did you notice if the large steel section from the Hell Gate Bridge is still there? It was on the side where the walkway to the footbridge used to be. As little kids, we used to climb on it until the guards chased us off. And I used to sit on it and wait for my Dad to come out after his shift.
The answer is "no," I didn't see the steel section that American Bridge fabricated for the Hell Gate Bridge, which American Bridge also helped erect.


Michael Travis standing in front of Hell Gate Bridge section,
American Bridge office grounds,
November, 1990,
Photo courtesy of Al Travis, used with permission

Al also sent me the above photo of his son Michael taken in front of the Hell Gate Bridge section in November, 1990, when Michael was 15. The steel section was on the south side of the walkway that led to the pedestrian bridge that allowed mill workers to cross over Ohio River Boulevard and the train tracks. Notice the plaque near the top.

Questions:

  • Did American Bridge make an extra section from the Hell Gate Bridge project to commemorate their achievement? If not, where did this piece come from?
  • When was the Hell Gate Bridge section placed on the office grounds?
  • What did the plaque say?
  • Where is the Hell Gate Bridge piece now?

Does anyone know?

[Update 12/17/13: Thanks to Kevin Butch O'Keefe, I was able to find information about the current whereabouts of the Hell Gate Bridge section. It's in the industrial artifacts collection of the Pittsburgh History & Landmark's Foundation and on display at Pittsburgh's Station Square. The bridge section gets a mention and photo in the PH&LF's Spring 1991 newsletter in the article "Artifacts Recall Industrial Past" on p. 6.]


Here are additional photos I took of the office building on November 20, 2013:



American Bridge office building,
4th Street side,
November 20, 2013
copyright Nancy Knisley

American Bridge office building,
4th Street side roof-line,
November 20, 2013
copyright Nancy Knisley


American Bridge office building,
Park Road side,
entrance hall,
November 20, 2013
copyright Nancy Knisley


American Bridge office building
Park Road side,
 steps and entrance hall,
November 20, 2013
copyright Nancy Knisley

American Bridge office building,
south side,
November 20, 2013
copyright Nancy Knisley

American Bridge office building,
south side door,
November 20, 2013
copyright Nancy Knisley

American Bridge office building,
fire escape,
Ohio River Boulevard side,
November 20, 2013
copyright Nancy Knisley


American Bridge office building,
Ohio River Boulevard side,
windows to right of fire escape,
November 20, 2013
copyright Nancy Knisley


American Bridge office building,
central section,
Ohio River Boulevard side,
November 20, 2013
copyright Nancy Knisley


American Bridge office building,
Ohio River Boulevard side,
steps and entrance,
November 20, 2013
copyright Nancy Knisley
 
American Bridge office building,
Ohio River Boulevard side,
right post and cap,
bottom of central entrance steps,
November 20, 2013
copyright Nancy Knisley
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* The Facebook page "AMBRIDGE MEMORIES WHAT DO YOU REMEMBER" is not affiliated with this blog, although I do post and read there. I not only find shared memories, but also information from other posters that I use on this blog.

The Facebook page for this blog is "Ambridge Memories 1950 - 1970 blog."

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