P. O. Box 4015 Arsenal Station
Pittsburgh, PA 15201-0015

43rd (Ewalt) Street Bridge

This article was written by Jim Wudarczyk. It appeared in the December 1993 issue of Historical Happenings the official newsletter of the Lawrenceville Historical Society.\

This view of the 43rd Street Bridge appears to be taken from the Lawrenceville side of the Allegheny River. The sloped piers are facing upstream so the angled side of the pier could break up ice or debris floating downriver.

A historically prominent bridge that no longer stands is the Ewalt Street Bridge or the 43rd Street Bridge, which was erected in 1870 and served the community until the opening of the Washington Crossing Bridge at Fortieth Street in December of 1924. This bridge was a covered bridge, designed by Felician Slataper, that connected Lawrenceville with Millvale. The stone piers on which the bridge set came from the old Freeport Aqueduct when the Pennsylvania Canal was abandoned. These stones were loaded on flats and towed down the Allegheny River, and the stone piers may still be seen at the foot of Forty-third Street.

The Ewalt Bridge Company was formed on March 22, 1869, with a capital of $100,000, raised by selling 2,000 shares of stock at a par value of $50. Huge timbers and planks spanned the stone piers with a cobblestone approach to the bridge. On the Millvale side was a walk with a hand rail for pedestrians that was open so they could look down the river, while the Pittsburgh side was completely enclosed. Inside the bridge was sufficient room for a wagon, a horse and a man to walk. A toll was payable on the Lawrenceville side.

Interior of the 43rd Street Bridge.

The floor of the bridge was twenty feet above the water, while the enclosed building was fifteen feet high. This structure ended on the Millvale side on a plank road, which ran south to Pittsburgh and on to approximately Grant Street in Millvale. The county purchased this bridge in June, 1912, for $120,000. Upon dedication and opening of the Washington Crossing Bridge in December, 1924, the Ewalt Bridge was sold to Diamond Match Company to be converted into matches.

The fog is rising from the Allegheny River in this January 6, 1925 photo that was probably taken from the newly constructed 40th Street Bridge. Note that the wooden walls of the soon to be demolished 43rd Street Bridge have been removed leaving only the skeletal structure, ready for the match factory.