Inclines of Allegheny City

Bill Gandy
3 min readMay 12, 2021

Hello… I’m Bill Gandy from the Allegheny City Historic Gallery. I preserve and promote the history of the Northside of Pittsburgh, formerly known as Allegheny City. Did you know that the Northside of Pittsburgh used to have 4 inclines? There would have been 6 if all of the plans were carried out.

The inclines were: The Ridgewood, Clifton, Nunnery Hill & Troy Hill. I found old maps with the Spring Hill & Buena Vista inclines listed on them but they were never built. Here is a rundown of each incline.

Ridgewood Incline (1886–1887): In the summer of 1886, a broker named Alexander Leggate formed the Ridgewood Incline Railway Company. The incline started at the corner of Ridgewood and Yale streets in the neighborhood of Perry South. It crossed over Irwin Avenue and landed on North Charles Street (formerly Taggert Street). The slope inclined at a 32 degree angle and it’s distance was 278 feet. It had a single track with one car. The incline opened to the public on December 16, 1886. Shortly after on May 30, 1887 a fire destroyed the engine house. It never re-opened after that. It was the first of Allegheny’s inclines.

Clifton Incline (1889–1905): The top of this incline was Clifton Park now what we know as the Cul-de-Sac on Chautauqua Street. It’s intersection was Myrtle Street, which we now know as Metcalf Street. The base of the Clifton was Sarah Street which today is named Strauss Street. On November 10, 1905 a passenger car broke loose, smashed into the waiting room on Sarah Street plus hit the front steps of a residence. No one was injured but the incline closed after that. I would like to do a dig in some of those areas to see what relics that I could find.

Troy Hill Incline (1888–1898): It was also known as the Mount Troy Incline. The cost to build the incline was $94,047. It’s construction began in August of 1887 it opened to the public on September 20, 1888. The top of the incline was at Lowrie Street and ascended to Ohio Street near the 30th Street Bridge. The incline was never profitable and closed down. There is a house currently at 1733 Lowrie Street that was believed to be the incline house for many years. Unfortunately it’s not. That building did not appear on maps until decades after the incline was dismantled. There is an advertisement for the Troy Hill incline in the January 14, 1988 edition. Diana Nelson Jones also did a story about this in August 2015 in the PG.

Nunnery Hill Incline (1888–1895): There was an early settlement of poor nuns that lived in the area that we call Fineview today. This is why this area was called Nunnery Hill. The top of the station was on Meadville Street. It was one of two curved track inclines in the world at the time. The bottom station was located at the corner of Federal and Henderson Streets. In fact the bottom station house still exists today. It’s an apartment building. There are many pictures of this incline online. The Nunnery Hill incline shut down operations without warning on September 13, 1885. It was dismantled in 1901.

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Bill Gandy

Preserves and promotes the history of Allegheny City / Northside of Pittsburgh. Medical Marijuana Consultant