Thursday, March 19, 2015

Early Ambridge, American Bridge Company

Early Ambridge from across Ohio River
circa 1905 ?
Laughlin Memorial Library archives
used with permission

This is an view of the beginnings of Ambridge looking to the east from across the Ohio.

I don't have a date for the photo, but the large building mid-photo is the American Bridge office building, built in 1903. Until it was razed in 2014, it stood at Fourth Street and Park Road. The building looks completed in the photo, dating the photo after 1903.

Note the white sidewalk and steps that led from the front (west) side of the office to the "bridge works" mill, the buildings along the riverfront. I don't know if Ohio River Boulevard existed in Allegheny County at that time, but the section of the boulevard between the office and mill buildings wasn't constructed until the mid-1940s.

The broad street in the photo running east-west is Fourth Street, then called Charles Street. Park Road is the street running north-south immediately east of the office building. Across Fourth Street from the office is part of the park that once ran from Fourth to Eighth Street along Park Road. A portion of the park still exists between Seventh and Eighth Streets.

The houses built for the influx of mill workers on the 200 block of Park Road and, above it, Maplewood Avenue, are on the right side of the photo. Many of those homes still exist.

I don't see Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church that was built in 1919 on the corner of Maplewood Avenue and Third Street, furthering narrowing down the era of the photo. But based on the lack of development along Merchant and Fourth Streets in the photo, I'd say the photo is much earlier than that. If you see anything in the photo--or not in the photo--that would help to date it, please leave a comment.

The east side of Ambridge pretty much stops at Merchant Street in the photo except, perhaps, for a bit of Duss Avenue just below the undeveloped hill on the left side. Commercial development has already started on the 400 block of Merchant.

I don't know what the lone building on the hill above the 200 block of Merchant is. If you can identify that building, or any of the others in the photo, please leave a comment.

When I wrote this earlier today, I totally forgot that the Historic Pittsburgh site has a 1906 map of Ambridge showing the locations of buildings. When I get some time, I'll compare that map with the map with the photo.


  1. jd aka john domansky
    anyone mention the fact that many factory workers came from west virginia, in fact one guy worked at HH about 1948 or so. i met up with him again working in the republic steel mill south chicago,about 1955 he did not know me, only he had flaming red hair & a very bad left elbow, but we talked about ambridge. i retired 1995, republic steel then LTV steel at the end. there were many WVs in ambridge, most good people.

  2. jd aka john domansky,

    american bridge offices stood on 3rd st w/a 3rd st. address they faced 4th st
    just found paul hertnecky website, a lot of 1940s & 50s people wrote in, knew so many of them.
    road (4th st) down to the boulivard from ambridge carried a lot of drag racing guys, 1954 or so was in a car that spun out in a race, still have the scar where head hit steering wheel. guys stopped just after the lite on 4th towards leetsdale blew horn 3 times, over a 1/4 mile easy up to 90 mph, got stopped about 58 or 9 by a cop gagliardi, blew the lite, he knew me & gave me a break, good daigo let a czech go, huh? fastest car was a 55 olds 88 w/a little soup in it, tho

    1. jd aka john domansky
      in the hertnicky site i found a few old time names, sestile, there was joe sestile 1 grade ahead of me, in AHS basketball player, hertnickey went to holy redeemer (1st named) then divine later) now i have to go into hertnickey site, not enough time left for me. people from that site may see my name here too & respond, that would be nice.

  3. The hillsides in the background weren't developed much at that point. How lovely they must have been.

  4. jd aka john domansky
    just noticed a remark about a church on 3rd st area, i recall reading about a virgin mary statue that had tears running down her face a few yrs ago, i believe its the church near 4th st west of duss, it made national newspapers. it may have been an orthodox church not sure, i recall walking past it many times. living in ambridge all those years & coming back many more yrs i never was good on east west north or south, the sun came up & went down, i never noticed where because it was not a kid thing to do.