Beechwood Boulevard

From Pittsburgh Streets
Not to be confused with Beechview Avenue.
Beechwood Boulevard
Neighborhoods Greenfield, Point Breeze, Squirrel Hill North, Squirrel Hill South
Origin of name Beechwood, the estate of William N. Frew
Beechwood Avenue (until 1910)
Origin of name Beechwood, the estate of William N. Frew
William Pitt Boulevard (1910–1913)
Origin of name William Pitt, 1st Earl of Chatham

This winding boulevard takes the name of Beechwood, the estate of Major William N. Frew (1826–1884), which was on the south side of Fifth Avenue where Mellon Park is today (near the modern intersection of Fifth Avenue and Beechwood Boulevard). Frew became wealthy as a partner in the first oil refinery in Pittsburgh.[1][2][3]

In 1910 the portion of Beechwood Avenue from Schenley Park to its intersection with Fifth Avenue in Point Breeze was renamed William Pitt Boulevard, and the portion from Frankstown Avenue to the Haights Run Bridge became Washington Boulevard.[4][5][6] The name William Pitt Boulevard was suggested by the Historical Society of Western Pennsylvania.[7] The name honored William Pitt, 1st Earl of Chatham (1708–1778), who is also the eponym of Pittsburgh itself.[8]

There seems to have been some confusion about the name, for it was occasionally called Fort Pitt Boulevard.[9][10][11] (This has no relationship to the present-day Fort Pitt Boulevard downtown.)

In any case, the new name did not last long. Every resident of the street petitioned to have the name changed back (even offering to pay for new signs), and this was done by a city ordinance in 1913, overriding a veto by Mayor William A. Magee and the protests of the Historical Society.[12][13][14][15][16] The mayor and the Historical Society argued that the name Beechwood was inappropriate for the street and that the name of William Pitt should be kept in the street directory so that it would not be forgotten.[12][13] These arguments were mocked by the opposing side, who pointed out that the city itself was named Pittsburgh and sarcastically lamented that the city founders had not had the foresight to name it William Pittsburgh or to "run out and plant a few beech trees in the primeval forest."[17]

William Pitt is honored today in the names of Chatham Square, Chatham Street, and, of course, Pittsburgh itself. See also Pitt Street for other streets that have been named for William Pitt.

Beechwood Boulevard intersects Monitor Street three times,[18][19] a feat unmatched by any other pair of streets in Pittsburgh, as far as I know.


  1. Atlas of the Cities of Pittsburgh, Allegheny, and the Adjoining Boroughs. G. M. Hopkins & Co., Philadelphia, 1872.; 1872 layer at Pittsburgh Historic Maps ( [view source]hopkins-1872
  2. Bob Regan. The Names of Pittsburgh: How the city, neighborhoods, streets, parks and more got their names, pp. 64, 156, 158. The Local History Company, Pittsburgh, 2009, ISBN 978-0-9770429-7-5. [view source]regan
  3. Squirrel Hill Historical Society. Helen Wilson, ed. Squirrel Hill: A neighborhood history, p. 166. History Press, Charleston, S. C., 2017, ISBN 978-1-4671-3625-9. LCCN 2016961484. [view source]wilson-helen
  4. "Fifth avenue's name will not be changed: Beechwood boulevard is to be called William Pitt boulevard." Pittsburgh Post, Jan. 22, 1910, p. 14. 93557559. [view source]fifth-avenues-name
  5. "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. In Municipal Record: Minutes of the proceedings of the [Select and Common Councils] of the City of Pittsburgh for the years 1909–1910, appendix, pp. 312–328, Devine & Co., Pittsburgh, 1910 (Google Books doQzAQAAMAAJ; HathiTrust uiug.30112108223832; Internet Archive Pghmunicipalrecord1909). Reprinted in the Pittsburgh Post, Apr. 19, 1910, pp. 10–11 ( 86611990, 86612022), Apr. 20, pp. 10–11 ( 86612278, 86612297), and Apr. 21, pp. 10–11 ( 86612601, 86612625). [view source]ordinance-1910-715
  6. "Removal of hump approved: Street widening and renaming bills also go through committees: Liggett files protest: Declares Diamond street proposition will cost city $500,000 damages: Some new appellations." Pittsburgh Post, Jan. 27, 1910, p. 2. 87647082. [view source]removal-of-hump-approved
  7. "Boulevard gets back old name: Beechwood to be restored in place of William Pitt for thoroughfare: Reports on home for girls: No action is taken regarding the Good Shepherd institution." Pittsburgh Gazette Times, Apr. 24, 1913, p. 9. 85621683. [view source]boulevard-gets-back-old-name
  8. George T. Fleming. "Great names are commemorated in the streets of Pittsburgh: Interesting history of early city and bits of biography of some of the men signally honored by its founders and first citizens." Pittsburgh Gazette Times, Dec. 27, 1914, sec. 3, p. 1. 85749921. [view source]fleming-great-names
  9. "Citizens will be strangers: Hard to locate homes after city streets are renamed." Pittsburgh Post, July 28, 1909, pp. 1–2. 86422549, 86422563. [view source]citizens-will-be-strangers
  10. "Colonial home to face boulevard: F. G. Stieren erecting dwelling on desirable site bought from W. L. Walker." Pittsburgh Press, Nov. 20, 1914, North Side section, p. 6. 142937368. [view source]colonial-home-to-face-boulevard
  11. "Home sold in boulevard." Pittsburgh Sunday Post, Apr. 5, 1914, editorial and financial section, p. 7. 87527007. [view source]home-sold-in-boulevard
  12. 12.0 12.1 "Boulevard name measure vetoed: Mayor contends William Pitt is most appropriate for thoroughfare: Other bills in balance." Pittsburgh Sunday Post, June 1, 1913, p. 2. 87978109. [view source]boulevard-name-measure-vetoed
  13. 13.0 13.1 "Council passes boulevard bill ignoring veto: East End thoroughfare to be known as 'Beechwood,' despite mayor's action: 'William Pitt' suggested." Pittsburgh Post, June 4, 1913, p. 2. 87978505. [view source]council-passes-boulevard-bill
  14. "Mayor likes name: Vetoes ordinance making William Pitt into Beechwood boulevard." Pittsburgh Gazette Times, June 1, 1913, first section, p. 6. 85876480. [view source]mayor-likes-name
  15. "Mayor's veto is again overridden: Council passes ordinance giving boulevard its former name of Beechwood: New business introduced: Question of site for dog pound may be settled in the near future." Pittsburgh Gazette Times, June 4, 1913, p. 2. 85876703. [view source]mayors-veto
  16. "An ordinance changing the name of William Pitt boulevard, between Putnam street and Schenley Park bridge, to Beechwood boulevard." Pittsburgh city ordinance, 1913, no. 223. Passed May 20, 1913; veto overridden June 3, 1913. Ordinance Book 25, p. 244. Reprinted in the Pittsburgh Post, June 7, 1913, p. 12 ( 87978845), and June 9, p. 10 ( 86542586). [view source]ordinance-1913-223
  17. "What might have been." Pittsburgh Gazette Times, June 8, 1913, fifth section, p. 4. 85877015. [view source]what-might-have-been
  18. Jerry Vondas. "His street knowledge a lifesaver." Pittsburgh Press, Sept. 1, 1984, p. B7. 146563451. [view source]vondas
  19. Joe Browne. Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Nov. 14, 1987, p. 18. 89742914. [view source]browne