Monday, December 28, 2015
The Greenfield Bridge Comes a Tumblin' Down
Growing up as I did in Squirrel Hill, just above Beechwood Boulevard and near the Squirrel Hill/Greenfield exit of the Parkway East, the Greenfield Bridge had always been a part of my life. Not that I had any sentimental attachment to it, mind you, it's just that what with going to high school in Oakland and attending numerous baseball games at Forbes Field and football games at Pitt Stadium, well, the Greenfield Bridge was what you had to cross to get there. It was always just THERE. Although those ornate concrete portals at both ends of the bridge did make it stand out from all the other bridges in Pittsburgh.
This 93 year old structure has been crumbling for years, and the folks at PENNDOT had long ago decree it beyond repair and needed to be replaced, so today, after over five years of planning, the Bridge was imploded and work will soon begin on a new Greenfield Bridge that will open in 2017.
And there is a bit of Sproule Family Lore surrounding this bridge. My Dad grew up in Greenfield and when he graduated from high school in 1931, he was given a ten dollar gold piece as a gift. The fact his mother, my grandmother, managed to come up with a ten dollar gold piece during the height of the Depression makes this story all the more legendary. Anyway, while loafing with his buddies one day at their usual hangout, the entrance portal to the Bridge, he was showing off his ten dollar gold piece by flipping it in the air, a la George Raft, when the inevitable happened - he missed catching it, the coin hit the ground, and rolled into a crack in the pavement, lost forever into the bowels of the Greenfield Bridge.
I can't count how many times that story was told to his five children over the years, but one aspect of the story was always hazy, at least to me, and that was how my grandmother reacted when he had to come home and own up to what happened.
Anyway, that thought was very much in my mind as I watched the implosion of the Greenfield Bridge on television this morning. Somewhere in heaven, I know my dad was wondering, and probably cursing the fact that some dude on the PENNDOT clean-up crew may tumble upon that long lost ten dollar gold piece.
Just click on the link below to see what it looked like this morning when the Greenfield Bridge came down.