Menu Contact/Location

Category Archive: Lighting Historic Resources

  1. Flick of switch starts age of enlightenment for Clemente Bridge – Fireworks, lights create attention span

    By Tom Barnes,
    Post-Gazette Staff Writer
    Friday, November 22, 2002

    Charlie Magnus, a 28-year lineman with Duquesne Light Co., flipped a switch last night that lit up a big blue company logo on the northern end of the Roberto Clemente Bridge

    That triggered a 10-minute fireworks extravaganza featuring colored rockets exploding into the nighttime sky and cascading off the bridge deck like a waterfall spilling into the Allegheny River.

    The stunning pyrotechnics announced the debut of a $500,000 architectural lighting project on the 78-year-old span, a project paid for by Duquesne Light.

    Local officials hope it will persuade other companies to underwrite the lighting of other city bridges, starting with the Ninth Street Bridge just up the river.

    The Aztec gold towers of the Clemente Bridge were bathed in bright white light, which will continue to shine each night from dusk to dawn, while the curved upper superstructure of the bridge was accentuated with low-energy blue “light emitting diode” bulbs.

    Magnus, who lives in Cecil, Washington County, normally builds and maintains power lines. But since late August he has worked with a crew of seven other Duquesne Light workers to install many of the new fixtures on the bridge.

    “It was different from anything we’ve done before,” he said. “It was all new to everybody. It was good to have the employees involved.”

    On hand for last night’s festivities was Gov.-elect Ed Rendell, who said he’d had some experience himself in lighting bridges.

    He worked with PECO, a power company in Philadelphia, to light five bridges in Downtown Philadelphia on “millennium eve,” Dec. 31, 1999.

    “It was one of my last acts as mayor,” he said. “I had persuaded PECO, our energy company, to light the five bridges over the Schuylkill River. We flicked the switch at 6 p.m. and bingo — all five bridges lit up.

    “People have loved it. I am a great believer that when cities are done right, no one can compete with them. They have a vitality– a special feeling — a dynamism — of their own.”

    Morgan K. O’Brien, chief executive officer of DQE, Duquesne Light’s parent company, quipped, “I told the governor tonight how excited we are to light up the Clemente Bridge and he told me that PECO had lit five bridges in Philadelphia.”

    The bridge lighting fireworks display as seen from the Sixth Street Garage. (Joyce Mendelsohn, Post-Gazette)

    O’Brien called the Clemente Bridge “a shining symbol of our commitment to the region and an important addition to the ongoing initiative to create one of the most striking urban waterfronts in the country.”

    Rendell also let slip that he’d helped find some of the financing for the Philadelphia bridge lighting project, leading Arthur Ziegler of Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation to wish aloud that maybe, as governor, Rendell could help find funding for some additional Pittsburgh bridges.

    Ziegler, who worked as a project manager and adviser on the Clemente project, said he’d like to see the Ninth Street Bridge lit next because it’s so close to the new convention center.

    History & Landmarks lit the first bridge in Pittsburgh — putting white “necklace” lighting atop the Smithfield Street Bridge — back in 1983.

    Another person heavily involved in the bridge lighting project was City Councilman Sala Udin.

    “I went up to Mount Washington one night after being elected and all our beautiful bridges seemed to disappear at night,” he said, deciding to do something about it.

    Referring to Duquesne Light’s investment in the Clemente Bridge lighting, he leaned over the microphone and boomed, “Will anybody else step forward with $500,000 to light another bridge?”

    Also pushing the lighting project has been the Riverlife Task Force, a 3-year-old, privately funded group trying to improve the appearance and vitality of city riverfronts.

    Rendell, like the rest of the several hundred onlookers gathered in a Duquesne Light tent outside PNC Park to watch the fireworks, said lighting bridges will improve Pittsburgh’s already impressive skyline.

    He said that as an outsider, he perhaps appreciates the city’s beauty more than some longtime residents.

    “I think this is an awesome city,” he said. “It’s a city that’s got a lot going for it. The old theory about Pittsburgh being a dead place — that theory’s gone. The city has tremendous potential.”

    The new lighting includes four “portal” light fixtures atop piers at both ends of the bridge, 32 white globes atop fixtures stretching down both sides of the bridge, floodlights illuminating the gold towers and the piers under the bridge, and smaller blue lights along the top of the span.

    “The blue pinpoints of light will add sparkle and excitement to this grand old bridge connecting Downtown to the new ballparks,” said Paula Garret, senior vice president of Forum Lighting of Pittsburgh, which designed the blue lights.

    Tom Barnes can be reached at or 412-263-1548.

    This article appeared in the Pittsburgh Post Gazette. © Pittsburgh Post Gazette

  2. Pittsburgh’s Dynamic Nightime Skyline Gets A New Addition – Duquesne Light Turns On Clemente Bridge Architectural Lighing System

    Pittsburgh- Duquesne Light Provided a luminous new addition to Pittsburgh’s Dynamic nighttime skyline this evening when the company officially turned on an architectural lighting system for the Roberto Clemente Bridge.

    “This project serves as a shining symbol of our commitment to the region and is an important addition to the ongoing initiative to create one of the most striking urban waterfronts in the country,” said Morgan K. O’Brien, Chief Executive Officer of DQE, Inc., Duquesne Light’s parent company. “The employees of Duquesne Light are proud to be involved in such an exciting project.”

    Arthur Ziegler and Gov. Ed Rendell
    At 6:45 p.m., senior line worker Charlie Magnus – who helped install the lighting system – flipped a switch that illuminated a 22-by-20 foot Duquesne Light logo. The lighting of the logo marked the beginning of a unique fireworks show, which included pyrotechnics that created a cascading waterfall effect. When the smoke cleared nine minutes later, an illuminated Clemente Bridge, framed by blue and white lights, appeared.

    Joining O’brien at the lighting ceremony, held along the Riverwalk at PNC Park, were about 450 business and community leaders, including the Duquesne Light crew that installed the architectural lighting system. among those who delivered remarks were Governor-elect Ed Rendell, Allegheny County Chief Executive Jim Roddy; Pittsburgh deputy Mayor Tom Cox; Pittsburgh City Councilman Sala Udin; Pittsburgh History & Landmarks President Arthur Ziegler; and Riverlife Task Force Co-Chairman John Craig.

    “This project involved the cooperation of numerous organizations throughout Pittsburgh,” said O’Brien. “It is the cooperative spirit among a variety of organizations, including the Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation, that enabled this project to be completed.”

    Lighted Bridge
    O’brien also thanked other stakeholders involved in the year-ling project, including the Riverlife Task Force, as well as the City and County, the Pittsburgh Pirates, and the U.S. Coast Guard.

    “We are pleased by the magnificent gift of Duquesne Light, as well as the vision of designers Ray Grenald, Courtney Sarge, and Hal Hilbish, which enabled us to illuminate this popular bridge, which won an award in 1928 as the most handsome steel bridge in the United States,’ said History & Landmarks President Arthur Ziegler.

    In November 2001, Duquesne Light announced that it would provide the necessary financial support to permanently illuminate the bridge. Duquesne Light crews began installing the lighting system on August 26th. A subcontractor assisted Duquesne Light crews by installing lights on the underside of the bridge and outside of the railing abutting the sidewalks.

    As part of its gift, Duquesne Light also created a special endowment that will be used for energy costs and ongoing maintenance and repair of the bridge lights. More than 2000 energy-efficient lights were installed. Most of the visible fixtures were selected for their historical accuracy, while others were chosen for their ability to illuminate the bridge’s more notable architectural features. The installation process was designed to protect the structural integrity of the bridge.

    Ray Grenald, a nationally recognized architectural lighting designer, who also designed the lighting scheme for the Smithfield Street Bridge, lead the team that developed the lighting design.

    Efforts to illuminate Pittsburgh’s bridges date back to 1929 when Duquesne Light strung Allegheny County’s three “Sister Bridges” – the Sixth Street, Seventh Street, and Ninth Street bridges – and others i the Golden Triangle, with garlands of lights in celebration of the 50th anniversary of the electric light bulb. The most recent effort dates back to 1997, when the Fort Pitt, Fort Duquesne, and West End bridges were lit in conjunction with the Three Rivers Regatta.

  3. Clemente Bridge’s future looking brighter

    By Tom Barnes,
    Post-Gazette Staff Writer
    Friday, August 23, 2002

    Work will begin Monday on an elaborate $500,000 plan to illuminate the Roberto Clemente Bridge, one of three “sister bridges” that span the Allegheny River between Downtown and the North Shore.

    Duquesne Light Co. is providing funding to devise and install the wiring and lighting fixtures on the bridge, built in 1924 and formerly named the Sixth Street Bridge. The money includes $50,000 for an endowment to maintain the fixtures and pay for electricity.

    Arthur Ziegler, president of Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation, which worked with Duquesne Light on the the project, said it hopes additional corporate sponsors can be found so that more bridges can get similar treatment.

    “The lighting will make the rivers look good and draw attention to the handsome structure of the many bridges we have,” Ziegler said.

    He’s especially interested in lighting the Ninth Street Bridge — because it’s closest to the new convention center — and the Seventh Street Bridge, the second and third of the “sister” bridges. He said the Fort Pitt and 16th Street bridges are also leading candidates for lighting if sponsors can be found.

    History & Landmarks found two lighting experts, Ray Grenald of Philadelphia and Hal Hilbish of Sewickley to provide technical expertise on lighting design. Grenald advised History & Landmarks when it put lights on the Smithfield Street Bridge in 1983.

    Work is to begin Monday to install wiring, brackets and other elements of the Clemente Bridge lighting system, said Maureen Hogel, a Duquesne Light senior vice president. The work will take about 10 weeks and should be completed by November. A precise date for turning on the lights hasn’t been set.

    Duquesne Light agreed to be the first corporate sponsor in November, soon after Morgan K. O’Brien became chief executive officer and decided to relocate company offices from suburban locations back to Downtown, to the Chamber of Commerce Building on Seventh Avenue.

    “This seemed like a good opportunity for us to say that we’re back in Pittsburgh, that we’re committed to the city and that we want to be a partner in seeing it grow,” Hogel said.

    The work of installing the light fixtures and wiring will, from time to time over the next 10 weeks, entail closing a lane or two on the bridge to traffic.

    Duquesne Light officials yesterday released an artist’s depiction of the lighted bridge.

    The picture shows six different elements of the lighting plan. On the Downtown and North Shore ends, new structures holding five lamps each will be erected atop stone piers. The tops of the lamps will stand 13 feet above the tops of the piers.

    The bright lamps will serve to mark the entrances to the bridge, Duquesne Light officials said.

    Thirty-two pedestrian lights, designed to be old-fashioned in appearance, will be erected along both sides of the bridge, 16 on each side. These lights, which are intended to be decorative as well as functional, will be designed to match the light fixtures that were used when the bridge opened in 1924.

    Tall, thin poles will hold “roadway lights,” more powerful than the pedestrian lights, which will shine down directly on the road surface for the benefit of motorists. These poles are designed to be visually unobtrusive. Brackets to hold the poles must be welded to the outside of the bridge railings.

    A fourth type of lighting will shine up toward the bridge towers, the two tall superstructures that face Downtown and the North Shore and whose “Aztec gold” color should show up well in the lights.

    Blue lights will be placed along the nodes of the bridge cables — called catenaries — that curve from the railings up to the top of the towers. These will be similar in appearance to the blue lights that dot the upper reaches of PNC Park at the northern end of the bridge.

    Lastly, lights will be placed on the underside of the bridge and will shine down on the stone piers that support the bridge.

    Besides History & Landmarks and Duquesne Light, other groups involved in the Clemente Bridge lighting project include the Pirates; the Renaissance Hotel, at the Downtown end of the span; Councilman Sala Udin, who represents Downtown and the North Shore; Allegheny County, which owns the bridge; and the Riverlife Task Force, a 3-year-old private group that held 120 public hearings on what should be done to improve local riverfronts and found strong public support for enhancing the appearance of the city’s bridges at night.

    Tom Barnes can be reached at or 412-263-1548.

    This article appeared in the Pittsburgh Post Gazette. © Pittsburgh Post Gazette

  4. Duquesne Light Company Announces Bridge Lighting

    December 10, 2001

    Pittsburgh, Pa. . . . . Duquesne Light, the Electric Distribution Company for Pittsburgh, PA, USA, announced in November 2001 a major grant to INTA member Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation (Landmarks) to design and install a lighting system for the first of 13 downtown bridges, the Roberto Clemente Bridge. The Foundation will be working with Allegheny County (owner of the bridge), the Riverlife Task Force, the City of Pittsburgh, and many other organizations to develop and install a successful system.
    In 1984 Landmarks successfully lit the oldest bridge in downtown Pittsburgh, the historic Smithfield Street Bridge, designed by Gustav Lindenthal and built in 1884; the celebration included a huge Roman Candle fireworks waterfall and the lighting has received much acclaim.
    Efforts to illuminate Pittsburgh’s bridges dates back over 70 years. In 1929, in celebration of the 50th anniversary of the invention of the Edison electric light bulb, the Duquesne Light Company strung the three sister bridges (6th, 7th and 9th Street) and the Manchester, Point, Smithfield, Panhandle and Liberty bridges with garlands of electric bulbs.

    Sixty years later, the Greater Pittsburgh Office of Promotion revived the idea with two nights of a demonstration lighting of the Fort Duquesne and Sixth Street Bridges in 1989 and Regatta weekend, a few years later, saw the West End Bridge lit in a demonstration culminating in another cascade of fireworks.

    Now thanks to Duquesne Light’s generous contribution, the Roberto Clemente Bridge will be fitted with a state-of-the-art lighting system to showcase its strong architectural features. Once lit, the bridge will form a highly visible linkage between downtown and the Northside neighborhood, home to some of the cities most popular destinations including the Andy Warhol Museum, the Carnegie Science Center, PNC Park, and Heinz Field.

    Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation will oversee the project and spearhead the efforts to complete the lighting of as many as twelve other downtown bridges.

  5. Editorial: Brightening bridges / Illuminating the city’s spans is not an extravagance

    Tuesday, December 04, 2001
    Pittsburgh Post Gazette

    Shedding light — literally — on Pittsburgh’s bridges is not a new idea.

    In 1929, on the 50th anniversary of the light bulb, Duquesne Light Co. illuminated bridges here. In 1990, the old Greater Pittsburgh Office of Promotion conducted a bridge lighting demonstration project on parts of the Fort Duquesne Bridge and of the Sixth Street Bridge, now known as the Roberto Clemente Bridge. Four years ago city Councilman Sala Udin called on local corporations to pay for lighting 12 city bridges.

    Now, the idea has gotten a boost with the announcement that Duquesne Light will pay for the decorative lighting of the Clemente Bridge. Project sponsors, including the Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation, the Riverlife Task Force, Allegheny County and the city, hope Duquesne Light is only the first of many corporations or organizations that will help illuminate Downtown bridges.

    The aim of the Clemente Bridge project is to make the bridge visible to pedestrians on the Allegheny River walks, as well as to motorists and pedestrians on the bridge itself. The cost of Duquesne Light’s part of the project is unknown pending completion of final details for the lighting, but estimates are that the design, installation and lighting of the bridge will cost between $300,000 and $500,000.

    Allegheny County has 3,000 bridges, more than any other county in the nation, and the city itself has more bridges than most others in this country. Each has a story; each has interesting features and details that could be highlighted by illumination and be a source of pride for the region.

    This article appeared in the Pittsburgh Post Gazette. © Pittsburgh Post Gazette

  6. Pittsburgh’s Clemente Bridge is first to get a lighting sponsor

    Wednesday, November 28, 2001

    By Mike Bucsko, Post-Gazette Staff Writer

    Duquesne Light Co. yesterday agreed to pay for decorative lighting on the Roberto Clemente Bridge.

    It’s the first of what the city hopes will be a long line of benefactors paying to light more than a dozen bridges that line Pittsburgh’s three rivers Downtown.

    During a news conference at the Renaissance Hotel, DQE Inc. President and Chief Executive Officer Morgan O’Brien said he was unsure of the project’s cost because it would depend on the lighting design chosen. Duquesne Light is a subsidiary of DQE, a Moon-based holding company.

    Riverlife Task Force Co-Chairman John G. Craig Jr. estimated the cost for the design, installation and lighting of the bridge to be $300,000 to $500,000.

    Craig, who is editor of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, said electricity would be the smallest expense.

    The lighting project is a combined effort of the Riverlife Task Force, Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation, Allegheny County and the city of Pittsburgh.

    The planned illumination of the Clemente Bridge will include lighting along the top and bottom of the span so the design and form of the structure will be visible to pedestrians on the Allegheny River walks, as well as to motorists and pedestrians on the bridge, said Haldane Hilbish, the lighting designer.

    Though the design is not completed, only fine-tuning remains, Hilbish said. The goal is to have the lighting in place by the April season opener for the Pirates at PNC Park, he said.

    The bridge, formerly known as the Sixth Street Bridge, will not have a string of lights like the Smithfield Street Bridge but will be illuminated by white metallic lighting similar to street lights that will accent its structure, Hilbish said. The lighting will be installed along the vertical steel suspenders that hang from the bridge’s main supports, as well as from supports beneath the structure.

    The lighting design selected for the Clemente Bridge will be duplicated on its so-called “sister” bridges at Seventh and Ninth streets, once sponsors are found to pay for the lighting, Hilbish said. The goal is to have uniformity in the illumination because the bridges are identical, he said.

    “We don’t want to create a carnival Downtown,” Hilbish said.

    The Clemente Bridge and its two sibling bridges were built in the 1920s. It is the fourth bridge at that location since 1819, said Arthur Ziegler, executive director of the Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation.

    Craig called the lighting of the Clemente Bridge a “demonstration project” that could be used as the kickoff for efforts to light the 14 bridges that ring the Downtown area.

    City Councilman Sala Udin, who has been instrumental in the effort to light the city’s bridges, called them “engineering marvels and works of art” that should be illuminated for the world to see.

    “I will not rest until all the bridges in Downtown Pittsburgh are lit,” Udin said.

    This article appeared in the Pittsburgh Post Gazette. © Pittsburgh Post Gazette

  7. City bridges slated for light-up project

    Tribune Review

    Preservationists, planners and business leaders will gather at the center of the Roberto Clemente Bridge at 11 a.m. today to discuss a joint effort to illuminate the city’s bridges.

    “I think it’s just sort of a grand, picturesque scenario,” said Rod Frantz, acting manager of the new Bridge Lighting Initiative. The nonprofit group – a partnership of the Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation, the Riverlife Task Force and Duquesne Light – is set to start a fund-raising effort to light all 13 of the city’s bridges over the next six to eight years.

    The first to be lit will be the Roberto Clemente Bridge, which Frantz said should be aglow by April or early May. Duquesne Light is covering the undisclosed cost.

    The Smithfield Street Bridge is already lit up, but this project will take a different approach to the work, Frantz said.

    He said the work will feature lighting of the Clemente Bridge’s superstructure and its underside, plus using a palette of colors to animate the entire bridge, which spans the Allegheny River from the North Side to Downtown.

    The group plans to hold public hearings soon and meld recommendations with those of the architects, lighting designers and artists submitting bridge lighting ideas to the Riverlife Task Force.

    “We should really celebrate (the bridges), because we have more bridges than any city in the Western world other than Venice, Italy,” Frantz said.

    This article appeared in the Pittsburgh Tribune Review. © Tribune Review

  8. Officials to unveil plans for bridge

    Tribune Review

    City of Pittsburgh and Allegheny County officials say they’ll shed a little light next week on their plan to shine some light on the Roberto Clemente Bridge.

    The bridge is one of three bright yellow “sister” bridges linking Downtown to the North Side, and the closest of the three to PNC Park.

    The Riverlife Task Force, a 40-member, privately funded group looking to promote riverfront development and aesthetics, last month said one of its goals would be to creatively light the city’s bridges.

    At a news conference scheduled for Tuesday on the bridge, officials from the task force, city, county, Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation and Duquesne Light Co. will detail their lighting plans.

    The bridge is closed when the Pirates and Steelers play at home and has become a popular pedestrian link to PNC Park and Heinz Field from Downtown parking lots.

Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation

100 West Station Square Drive, Suite 450

Pittsburgh, PA 15219

Phone: 412-471-5808  |  Fax: 412-471-1633