A descending view of the Monongahela Incline.

(Suckindiesel at the English-language Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0 <http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/>, via Wikimedia Commons)



The Monongahela Incline is a funicular located near the Smithfield Street Bridge in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Designed and built by Prussian-born engineer John Endres in 1870, it is the oldest continuously operating funicular in the United States.

It is one of two surviving inclines in Pittsburgh (the other is the nearby Duquesne Incline) from the original 17 passenger-carrying inclines built there starting in the late 19th century. Its lower station is across the street from what is now the Station Square shopping complex. It is easily accessible from the light rail system at the Station Square station.

It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1974. In 1977 both inclines were designated as Historic Mechanical Engineering Landmarks by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME).


Monongahela Incline (right) and the Monongahela Freight Incline (left) in 1905. The latter has since been demolished.

(Detroit Publishing, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)


Pittsburgh and Lake Erie Railroad Station, with Monongahela Incline behind it in May of 2021. (Cbaile19, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons)


Pittsburgh's expanding industrial base in 1860 created a huge demand for labor, attracting mainly German immigrants to the region. This created a serious housing shortage as industry occupied most of the flat lands adjacent to the South Side of the Monongahela River, leaving only the steep, surrounding hillsides of Mt. Washington, or "Coal Hill", for housing. However, travel between the "hill" and other areas was hindered by the steep terrain and a lack of public transport or good roads.

The predominantly German immigrants who settled on Mt. Washington, remembering the seilbahns (cable cars) of their former country, proposed construction of inclines along the face of Coal Hill.

Prussian-born engineer John Endres of Cincinnati, Ohio was commissioned to design the Monongahela Incline, which opened on May 28, 1870, as the first for passenger use. On the first day, some 944 fares were collected. But the second day, 4,174 people rode the incline and it became a success. He was assisted by his American-born daughter, Caroline Endres, who was educated in Europe and became one of the first women engineers in this country.

Earlier inclines were used to transport coal in the Pittsburgh area, including the Kirk Lewis incline on Mt. Washington, and the Ormsby mine gravity plane in nearby Birmingham, which was later annexed to the city of Pittsburgh.

The Monongahela Incline was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1974. Both it and the Duquesne Incline were recognized in 1977 as Historic Mechanical Engineering Landmarks by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME). That year the two inclines served a total of more than one million commuters and tourists annually.

In the 21st century, the Monongahela Incline is operated by Pittsburgh Regional Transit, which operates the rest of Allegheny County's transit system. Transfers can be made between the incline, light rail, and buses free of additional charge. It serves both commuters and visitors, and is a popular tourist attraction.

On February 2, 2019, flooding caused by a broken city water main forced the incline to close. The extensive repairs took time to complete, but the incline reopened 13 weeks later on May 10, 2019.


The sign at the Monongahela Incline in Pittsburgh, PA. (Gonzo fan2007, CC BY-SA 3.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0>, via Wikimedia Commons)

Lower station of the Monongahela Incline. (Suckindiesel at the English-language Wikipedia. CC BY-SA 3.0 <http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/>, via Wikimedia Commons)


Length: 635 feet (194 m)
Elevation: 369.39 feet (112.59 m)
Grade: 35 degrees, 35 minutes
Gauge: 5 ft (1,524 mm) broad gauge
Speed: 6 mph (9.7 km/h)
Passenger Capacity: 23 per car
Opened: May 28, 1870
Renovated: 1882 (with steel structure)
Original steam power replaced with electricity: 1935
Renovated: 1982–83 new track structure, cars and stations
Renovated: 1994 upper, lower stations, restored cars, replaced electric motors and controls
Renovated: 2022–23 upper, lower stations, mechanical controls, electrical system, exterior track lighting


Pittsburgh and Lake Erie Railroad station on far riverbank, and two inclines: Monongahela Freight Incline (L) and Monongahela Incline (R), on Mt. Washington, c.1905.

(Library of Congress, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)



Owner Pittsburgh Regional Transit
Locale Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, U.S.
West Carson Street
Grandview Avenue
Stations 2
Type Funicular
Opened May 28, 1870
Line length 635 feet (194 m)
Track gauge 5 ft (1,524 mm)
Electrification 1935
Operating speed 6 mph (9.7 km/h)

Location Grandview Avenue at Wyoming Avenue,
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Coordinates 40°25′55″N 80°0′20″W
Area 1 acre (0.40 ha)
Built 1869
Architect John Endres and Caroline Endres
Architectural style Late 19th and 20th Century Revivals, Second Renaissance Revival
NRHP reference No. 74001742
Significant dates
Added to NRHP June 25, 1974
Designated CPHS March 15, 1974
Designated PHLF 1970


Interior of the lower station.

(Dllu, CC BY-SA 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons)


Monongahela ascending.

(Suckindiesel at the English-language Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0 <http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/>, via Wikimedia Commons)