The Evolution of Bridges in Pittsburgh

May 10, 2016

Speaker: TODD WILSON, Engineer and Author

Todd WilsonTodd Wilson, P.E., is a civil engineer whose passion for bridges has spanned his whole life and led him on quests to photograph bridges in all 50 states and four continents. He is especially interested in the history of bridge building in Pittsburgh, with its cast of monumental engineers such as John A. Roebling, Gustav Lindenthal, and George S. Richardson.

In his presentation, Mr. Wilson will talk about the large and diverse collection of bridge types that is a necessity in a city with hilly topography intersected by three mighty rivers—the Monongahela, Allegheny, and Ohio—and deep valleys and ravines. He will explain how engineers, architects, and contractors conquered the challenging terrain and how the resulting bridges were carefully designed not just for function but also for aesthetics, covering the planning, construction, and sometimes, demolition, of bridges that defined Pittsburgh, ranging from its first covered bridges to today’s skyline-defining spans.

About Todd Wilson: Todd M. Wilson, P.E., is a Project Engineer at Homestead-based GAI Consultants, Inc. He currently serves as a Trustee of Pittsburgh History and Landmarks Foundation and the History and Heritage Committee Chair of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) Pittsburgh Section.

Growing up in Squirrel Hill, as the son of an art teacher and a photographer, Mr. Wilson has been interested in bridges his whole life. Even in kindergarten at St. Philomena’s, he was already drawing and photographing bridges. After graduating as a valedictorian of Taylor Allderdice High School, his love of bridges led him to pursue a degree in civil engineering, graduating from Carnegie Mellon University in 2006 with a B.S. in Civil Engineering and an additional major in Engineering and Public Policy.

In 2007, he co-created , one of the largest bridge websites on the Internet. In 2009, Mr. Wilson founded the Historic Bridge Weekend, an annual event in which historic bridge enthusiasts—engineers, historians, photographers and hobbyists—gather to attend presentations and visit historic bridges. In 2010, Mr. Wilson was named one of the ASCE’s Ten New Faces of Civil Engineering. In 2011, Mr. Wilson was named one of Pittsburgh’s 40 Under 40, and in the same year he received the Carnegie Mellon University Department of Civil Engineering’s Recent Alumnus Achievement Award.

NOTE: SHHS Members Helen and Todd Wilson are coauthors of Pittsburgh Bridges, a recently released book in Arcadia Publishing’s Images of Americaseries. The book has photographs, diagrams and descriptions of more than 140 of Pittsburgh’s past and present bridges, including the wide variety of bridges in the Squirrel Hill and East End area. The book can be purchased at local bookstores and at and other online booksellers.

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