Visitors to the North Shore will now get a chance to enjoy an iconic piece of Pittsburgh history. The elaborate bronze sculpture designed by Charles Keck that once adorned the south entrance portal of the Manchester Bridge has been resurrected and installed in a public plaza near Heinz Field.
Christopher Gist, a frontiersman, and Chief Guyasuta, of the Seneca Tribe of the Iroquois Nation, are depicted kneeling on each side of the Pittsburgh coat of arms. They guided 21-year-old George Washington during his expedition through the region in 1753.
A large pier at the water’s edge on the North Shore (pictured left) is the last remnant of the bridge that was built in 1915 (the sculptures were added in 1917) and stretched from the North Shore to the Point. The pier is now home to an observation deck and Robert Berks’ statue A Tribute to Children which depicts Mr. Rogers, added in 2007.
There are two bridge sculptures, one at each portal—the Gist and Guyasuta portal has been installed on the North Shore, and Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation (PHLF) is working with the Manchester Citizens Corporation to find a location for the remaining portal which depicts folkloric steelworker Joe Magarac and fictional coal miner Jan Volkanik.
“We have all been working together to return these awesome sculptures to a place where the public can once again enjoy them,” says Karamagi Rujumba, director of public communications and advocacy at PHLF. “We are very grateful to the Rooney Family and the Steelers, who have invested $1 million to clean this sculpture, secure a public space where it can be permanently installed, and light it as a great piece of public art that reflects our city and our region’s rich history.”
PHLF saved the sculptures when the bridge was demolished in 1970. After several years in a garden at the Old Post Office on the North Side which became the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh, the sculptures were moved to Heinz Field where they have been hanging out ever since.
PHLF has also restored 15 cast-iron decorative objects from the bridge, including five stars, rosettes, and shields, that are now featured as decorative pieces on the exterior of the Landmarks Preservation Resource Center, an educational space in Wilkinsburg.