Neighborhood: Central Business District
The part of Stanwix Street south of Liberty Avenue was originally called Ferry Street. The segment between Fort Pitt Boulevard and the Boulevard of the Allies was one of the very first streets of Pittsburgh, laid out as part of John Campbell’s “military plan” of 1764. The other streets in Campbell’s plan were Water Street (today Fort Pitt Boulevard), First Street (today First Avenue), Second Street (today the Boulevard of the Allies), Chancery Lane (today Chancery Way), and Market Street.[1, 2, 12] Ferry Street was named for the ferry that crossed the Monongahela River there, connecting it to the road to Cumberland, Maryland, which was early Pittsburgh’s most important supply route.[8, 26, 28] When George Woods laid out the town of Pittsburgh twenty years later, Campbell’s plan was incorporated without change, including its streets and its peculiarly small lots.[2, 14, 30]
The part of Stanwix Street north of Liberty Avenue was originally called Pitt Street, after William Pitt, 1st Earl of Chatham (1708–1778), who is also the eponym of Pittsburgh itself. It was laid out in Woods’ 1784 town plan. (Other streets that have been named after Pitt include Beechwood Boulevard, which was named William Pitt Boulevard from 1910 to 1913, and Chatham Square.)
In 1868, Pittsburgh’s modern sequence of numbered streets was created by renaming all the streets perpendicular to the Allegheny River. Pitt Street became Fifth Street.[3, 15, 22]
Over 900 city streets were renamed in 1910 to fix the problem of duplicate street names. As part of this renaming, the Daughters of the American Revolution proposed the name Stanwix Street, after John Stanwix (1690–1766). The DAR suggested that the name Stanwix should be given to Seventh Street, saying that was the original name (an incorrect claim—Seventh Street was originally Irwin Street), but in the ordinance that was finally passed it was Fifth Street that became Stanwix.[3, 4, 11, 13, 16, 17, 21, 24, 25, 27, 29]
By 1954, as a result of improvements, Ferry and Stanwix Streets had become one continuous street, and the City Planning Commission asked the City Council to change the name of Ferry Street to Stanwix. The proposal was initially defeated,[9, 23] but it was soon passed with a delay to allow business owners to use up stocks of printed material with the old name.[5, 10, 20] The name change took effect on July 1, 1955.[6, 7, 8, 19] Consequently Stanwix Street became the first street in Pittsburgh to touch both the Allegheny and the Monongahela Rivers. In 1958 Commonwealth Place was similarly formed by uniting two streets under a common name, and it also goes from river to river; see also Eighth Street, which was upgraded from an alley to a street in the early 1850s in an ultimately unsuccessful attempt to make such a connection.
The name Stanwix was previously applied to a different street a few blocks west, which was vacated in 1875; see Second Street.
Campbell, John. Plan of lots in Pittsburgh—1764. 1764. Reproduced in William G. Johnston, Life and Reminiscences from Birth to Manhood of Wm. G. Johnston, The Knickerbocker Press, New York, 1901 (Google Books N-QEAAAAYAAJ); in George T. Fleming, “Flem’s” Views of Old Pittsburgh: A portfolio of the past precious with memories, Geo. T. Fleming, Pittsburgh, 1905, p. 5 (HathiTrust 011204797, 100770599; Historic Pittsburgh 31735056290277; Internet Archive flemsviewsofoldp00flem; LCCN 08028848); in George T. Fleming, “History from an old map,” Pittsburgh Gazette Times, July 16, 1922, second section, p. 2 (Newspapers.com 85913850); in George T. Fleming, Fleming’s Views of Old Pittsburgh: A portfolio of the past, Crescent Press, Pittsburgh, 1932, p. 10; in George Swetnam, “Ferry Street historic, one of oldest in city,” Pittsburgh Press, Nov. 25, 1954, p. 16 (Newspapers.com 149015965); and in Bob Regan, The Names of Pittsburgh: How the city, neighborhoods, streets, parks and more got their names, The Local History Company, Pittsburgh, 2009, ISBN 978-0-9770429-7-5, p. 57. This map is often called the “military plan of Pittsburgh.”
Craig, Neville B. The History of Pittsburgh: With a brief notice of its facilities of communication, and other advantages for commercial and manufacturing purposes. John H. Mellor, Pittsburgh, 1851, p. 93. Google Books cE0OAAAAIAAJ; HathiTrust 001263103.
Cridlebaugh, Bruce S. “Field notes: Changing Pittsburgh street names—from downtown to Lawrenceville.” Pghbridges.com: Bridges & tunnels of Allegheny County & Pittsburgh, PA, Feb. 9, 2000. http://pghbridges.com/articles/fieldnote_pghstnames.htm.
DeLaney, James K. “Spectres of past haunt Pittsburgh’s corner signposts: Street names ‘pennants of tribute.’” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Mar. 30, 1967, Daily Magazine, [p. 1]. Newspapers.com 88235360.
“Delay faces Ferry Street change.” Pittsburgh Press, Dec. 12, 1954, sec. 3, p. 24. Newspapers.com 149103277.
“Ferry becomes Stanwix.” Pittsburgh Press, June 29, 1955, p. 4. Newspapers.com 148903873.
“Ferry becomes Stanwix on July 1.” Pittsburgh Press, Jan. 11, 1955, p. 25. Newspapers.com 149065756.
“Ferry Street has only nine more days of ‘life’: Will become an extension of Stanwix.” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, June 22, 1955, Daily Magazine, p. 1. Newspapers.com 91028013.
“Ferry Street’s still Ferry Street!: Council vetoes name change.” Pittsburgh Press, Dec. 1, 1954, p. 18. Newspapers.com 148998557.
“Ferry Street to become Stanwix Street: Name changed effective April 1.” Pittsburgh Press, Dec. 14, 1954, p. 6. Newspapers.com 149129771.
Fleming, George T., ed. Pittsburgh: How to see it: A complete, reliable guide book with illustrations, the latest map and complete index. William G. Johnston Co., Pittsburgh, 1916, p. 47. Google Books 02NAAAAAYAAJ; Internet Archive bub_gb_02NAAAAAYAAJ.
History of Allegheny County Pennsylvania: Including its early settlement and progress to the present time; a description of its historic and interesting localities; its cities, towns and villages; religious, educational, social and military history; mining, manufacturing and commercial interests; improvements, resources, statistics, etc.: Also portraits of some of its prominent men, and biographies of many of its representative citizens. A. Warner & Co., Chicago, 1889, pp. 439–440. Internet Archive historyofalleghe1889cush.
Ibid., p. 481.
Ibid., pp. 487–488.
Killikelly, Sarah H. The History of Pittsburgh: Its rise and progress. B. C. & Gordon Montgomery Co., Pittsburgh, 1906, p. 534. DonsList.net HistPgh1909M; Google Books kXmloex-vr8C, poRU0YjqrzsC; HathiTrust 100122020; Historic Pittsburgh 00adc8925m; Internet Archive historyofpittsbu00kill, historypittsbur00killgoog.
“Making a joke of street names: Clerks assigned to wipe out duplications choose any old titles: Hippo, Tumbo, Fortitude!: Also Divinity, Sunday, Starch, Parkhurst, Chianti, Wry and Prudence.” Pittsburgh Gazette Times, July 28, 1909, p. 2. Newspapers.com 85879633.
Miller, Annie Clark. Early Land Marks and Names of Old Pittsburgh: An address delivered before the Pittsburgh Chapter Daughters of the American Revolution at Carnegie Institute, Nov. 30, 1923. Pittsburgh Chapter Daughters of the American Revolution, 1924, p. 26. Historic Pittsburgh 00awn8211m; Internet Archive earlylandmarksna00mill.
“Name change asked for downtown street: Public Works Department seeks to replace Ferry with Stanwix.” Pittsburgh Press, Nov. 23, 1954, p. 37. Newspapers.com 149010292.
“Nomenclature.” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, June 30, 1955, Daily Magazine, [p. 1]. Newspapers.com 91032959.
“An ordinance changing the name of Ferry Street between Fort Pitt Boulevard and Liberty Avenue to Stanwix Street.” Pittsburgh city ordinance, 1955, no. 2. Passed Jan. 10, 1955; approved Jan. 12, 1955. Ordinance Book 59, p. 571. Reported in the Pittsburgh Sun-Telegraph, Jan. 15, 1955, p. 13 (Newspapers.com 524202598).
“An ordinance changing the names of certain avenues, streets, lanes and alleys in the City of Pittsburgh.” Pittsburgh city ordinance, 1910, no. 715. Passed Mar. 31, 1910; approved Apr. 5, 1910. Ordinance Book 21, p. 342. Google Books doQzAQAAMAAJ. Reprinted in the Pittsburgh Post, Apr. 19, 1910, pp. 10–11 (Newspapers.com 86611990, 86612022), Apr. 20, pp. 10–11 (Newspapers.com 86612278, 86612297), and Apr. 21, pp. 10–11 (Newspapers.com 86612601, 86612625).
“An ordinance changing the names of streets.” Pittsburgh city ordinance, 1868. Passed Aug. 31, 1868. Reprinted in the Pittsburgh Gazette, Sept. 2, 1868, p. 5 (Newspapers.com 86347563), Sept. 3, p. 3 (Newspapers.com 86347623), and Sept. 4, p. 3 (Newspapers.com 86347714).
“Proposal to change street name defeated.” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Dec. 1, 1954, p. 10. Newspapers.com 89664143.
Regan, Bob. The Names of Pittsburgh: How the city, neighborhoods, streets, parks and more got their names. The Local History Company, Pittsburgh, 2009, p. 74. ISBN 978-0-9770429-7-5.
“Street names sketch history of city: Tribute to many pioneers dimmed by time.” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Sept. 26, 1936, anniversary section IV, p. 16. Newspapers.com 88921069.
Swetnam, George. “Ferry Street historic, one of oldest in city: Backward switch gives recognition to man undeserving of honor.” Pittsburgh Press, Nov. 25, 1954, p. 16. Newspapers.com 149015965.
Thomas, Lillian. “City plays the name game.” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Mar. 26, 2001, pp. C-5, C-8. Newspapers.com 90410524, 90410540; http://old.post-gazette.com/regionstate/20010326streetnamesreg6.asp.
White, William A. “Ferry Street.” Pittsburgh Press, Dec. 21, 1954, sec. 2, p. 29. Newspapers.com 148990741.
White, William A. “Stanwix vs. Ferry.” Pittsburgh Press, Jan. 27, 1955, sec. 2, p. 17. Newspapers.com 148896227.
Woods, George. A draught of the town plat of Pittsburgh, surveyed for John Penn, Jr., and John Penn, by George Woods, May 31st 1784. 1784. Reproduced as “Original plan of Pittsburgh” in plate 19 of Atlas of the cities of Pittsburgh, Allegheny, and the adjoining boroughs, G. M. Hopkins & Co., Philadelphia, 1872 (Historic Pittsburgh 1872p019).