Back to All Events

Bridges, BBQ, & Beer: A Presentation & Book Signing with Thomas Leech & Linda Kaplan

Join us on Thursday, September 28th from 6pm to 8pm in our Koolkat Café for a special presentation and book signing with Thomas Leech and Linda Kaplan, bridge engineers and the authors of Bridges ... Pittsburgh at the Point ... A Journey Through History.  Books will be available for purchase at $25 each.  Enjoy a BBQ by Atria's of Mt. Lebanon who will be grilling outside in our main parking lot from 5pm to 8pm, plus local beer!  Peruse our Shop and see the many unique bridge-themed items created by Greater Pittsburgh artists, including prints, photographs, jewelry, ornaments, bar towels, cards, and more.  McMurray-based artist Audra Azoury will be debuting a special line of ornaments featuring distinctive Pittsburgh Bridges.  

Did Pittsburgh's development dictate the location of the bridges, or did the bridges lead to development of a great American city? 

Bridges ... Pittsburgh at the Point ... A Journey Through History is the first and only book to tell the full story of every one of the 34 wooden, iron and steel bridges that ever spanned the three great rivers at The Point. It shows the development of the city with unique maps laid out chronologically, all from the same orientation, looking East from Mount Washington. More than half of the photographs have never-before been published. 

The authors take readers back over 65 million years to the origins of the three rivers and how they were sculpted, creating a dramatic landscape of expansive waterways and lofty cliffs towering over the confluence. Through the words of engineers, architects, planners and historians of the 18th through the 21st centuries, this book narrates Pittsburgh's evolution from a struggling frontier town, to a smoky industrial center, to a world-class city. 

Authors Leech and Kaplan describe an atmosphere of determination and innovation that result in the creation of the first covered wooden bridge to cross the Monongahela in 1818 — a bridge that would be destroyed by the fire of 1845. But it is the fire that ushers in the boldness of John Roehling (later of the Brooklyn Bridge) and his brilliant creation of spun iron ropes to build the replacement of the bridge across the Mon. 

The book tells the story of each one of the bridges that would rise and fall at The Point, giving Pittsburgh such iconic spans as the Smithfield Street Bridge, the oldest bridge still in use in the city and a National Historic Landmark. 

Our authors bring readers into the present with the beginnings of the Pittsburgh Renaissance in the 1940s and the massive interstate highway program of the 1950s that that gave birth to Point State Park, the Fort Pitt, the Veterans and the Fort Duquesne Bridges. (It is the Fort Duquesne that was for a time known as the Bridge to Nowhere.) No reader of this book will ever again cross the waters at The Point without a sense of awe at the beauty, technology, daring and brilliance that made Pittsburgh and its bridges what they are today. 

THOMAS LEECH is the former Chief Bridge Engineer of Gannett Fleming, Inc., an instructor of Civil Engineering at Carnegie Mellon University, and a part of the continuing education faculty of the􀀙 Pennsylvania􀀚 State University. While employed with Gannett Fleming, he designed bridges, tunnels and highways and conducted forensic studies􀀾 prior to his retirement.  He has published over 50 articles in national and international journals, conference proceedings and magazines. Thomas was the Editor of the book entitled Reflections ... of the Greatest Engineers and Architects of the 20th and 21st Centuries.

LINDA KAPLAN is a bridge engineer in the Pittsburgh region. She has experience designing highway, rail, and pedestrian bridges, walls, and tunnels. She is active in the American Society of Civil Engineers, particularly with the structural engineering community in Pittsburgh. She spends her time participating in mentoring and outreach programs for local high school students and undergraduate students at Carnegie Mellon University. Linda is also involved on the National level in the Structural Engineering Institute where she focuses on challenges facing Young Professionals. 

Earlier Event: September 10
Meet the Author: Alan Jenkins