Duquesne Incline: A Bird’s Eye View of Pittsburgh
The must-do while visiting Pittsburgh is taking a ride on the iconic funicular railway, the Duquesne Incline, up to Mt Washington. The views from the overlook are marvelous. In fact, USA Today even rated it “one of the top ten sites in the world for viewing a cityscape.” The incline opened to the public on May 20, 1877. The engineer, Samuel Diescher, went on to build inclines throughout the country.
Funicular railways are used as opposed to conventional trains to travel up steep mountains. A cable is used to pull the train up the steep grade. When one railway reaches the top, another goes down and they meet each other in the middle, thus counterbalancing each other. The incline travels on a 794 foot track up 400 feet to Mt. Washington at a grade of 30.5 It is not nearly as steep as some others, most notably the Incline at Lookout Mountain in Chattanooga with a grade of 72.7. The iconic red color of the railway really makes it pop out amongst the surrounding landscapes.
View from Mt Washington
Once arriving at the summit of the mountain, you will be treated to a bird’s eye view of the 3 rivers (Allegheny, the Monongahela, and the Ohio) and beautiful cityscape. Both daytime and nighttime rides offer drastically different, yet equally stunning panoramic views. Many of Pittsburgh’s iconic bridges can be seen as well as the sports stadiums. During the summer time, it’s cool to watch the cruise lines go by.
There is no better view of the Pittsburgh skyline. It’s no wonder that this incline has been rated so highly by numerous prestigious media sources. The skyline, as viewed both day and night.
I recommend visiting just before sunset so you can enjoy the view in both settings without paying twice.
There is a small museum at the top where you can view historical photos and learn a bit more about the history of the funicular. Also there’s a cool little glass room where you can peek at the machinery at work. A small gift shop is located on-site as well.
A few more photos to enjoy
Know before you go:
Parking is located at: 1197 W Carson St, Pittsburgh, PA 15219.
Hours for the incline: 5:30am – 12:30am (7am on Sundays/holidays).
Only cash (exact fare) is accepted. $2.50 each way or $5 round-trip. Students (Univ. of Pitt, Carnegie Mellon, and Chatham) and kids under 5 are free. Seniors with blue or yellow PA Senior Citizen Card are free.
Parking is quite pricey at $5 for 2 hours. Tip: Park at the Upper Station on a Sunday (meters are free) to avoid the $5 parking fee.
Also, you can take in the stunning cityscape from the Incline viewing platform for free. There is no need to take the ride to enjoy the view – simply park along the street at the address noted below (meters free on Sunday/after 6pm Mon-Sat). However, taking the ride is an iconic Pittsburgh experience!
Wheelchair accessibility at Upper Station – 1220 Grandview Avenue Pittsburgh, Pa. 15211
Dining/Entertainment in the area
Most tourists head over to Station Square, located just minutes away. While the parking is overpriced and most restaurants expensive chains, it’s a fun touristy destination. A few good dining choices:
Hard Rock Cafe – Fun rock n’roll memorabilia, good comfort food, lively vibe. Try the Twisted Mac and Cheese.
Tupelo Honey – Southern inspired chain which originally opened in Asheville, NC. Try the sweet potato pancakes for breakfast or the Farm Fresh vegetable plate for dinner. Great homemade biscuits!
The Melting Pot – Upscale fondue restaurant.
Buca di Beppo – Popular chain serving Italian food family style.
Also, there is a great view of the city here. Not as fantastic as the incline, but another view none the less.