Cemetery Street

From Pittsburgh Streets
Cemetery Street
Neighborhood Fineview
Origin of name St. Mary's Cemetery
Morris Street (until ca. 1880)
Origin of name Mary or John Morris

This street appears in the 1872 Hopkins atlas as Morris Street, with its eastern terminus at St. Mary's Cemetery.[1] It was probably named for a Mary Morris, who owned a house at the intersection with Willis Street (today Meadville Street),[1][2] or for John Morris, a laborer and iron puddler who lived near the same intersection.[1][3][4][5]

By 1882 the street had been renamed Cemetery Street, apparently to distinguish it from the disconnected segment of Morris Street further west (today Mercy Street).[6][2]

St. Mary's Cemetery was blessed on September 10, 1854, and on the same day the first burial took place.[7] A large chapel was built and blessed on November 6, 1870, with a seating capacity of about 300.[7] The chapel was used for burial ceremonies, an annual service on All Souls' Day (November 1), and occasional services at other times.[7] Below the chapel was a crypt that held the remains of the pastors of St. Mary's Church.[7]

However, in 1890 the cemetery was condemned by the City of Allegheny.[7] The next year a new cemetery in Ross Township was blessed, most of the bodies in the old cemetery were moved, and the old cemetery and chapel were abandoned.[7] In 1905 the chapel was vandalized by a thief in search of treasure; the caskets of three priests were pried out of the crypt and broken open, and the bones of the priests were scattered across the floor.[8][9][7] The deteriorating chapel, in its secluded location, also became the site of clandestine boxing matches, chicken fights, and games of poker and craps.[7][10] The chapel was finally torn down in 1913, with its bricks and lumber being used to build a stable.[10]

The old cemetery later became the site of the WWSW radio transmission tower, completed in 1939.[11][12] The transmitter was adapted to support FM broadcasts in 1941.[13] Television broadcasts began in 1957 under the call letters WIIC,[14][15] which became WPXI in 1981.[16][17] Also in 1981, the easternmost block of Cemetery Street was renamed Television Hill Street.[18]

Bob Regan includes "Cemetery" in his "Streets of Pittsburgh" crossword puzzle, clued as "Collection of large parcels of land used for burying deceased persons."[19] Unfortunately this is just a (slightly odd) dictionary definition of cemetery and gives no information about the origin of the name.

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Atlas of the Cities of Pittsburgh, Allegheny, and the Adjoining Boroughs, p. 92. G. M. Hopkins & Co., Philadelphia, 1872. http://historicpittsburgh.org/maps-hopkins/1872-atlas-pittsburgh-allegheny; 1872 layer at Pittsburgh Historic Maps (https://esriurl.com/pittsburgh). [view source]hopkins-1872
  2. 2.0 2.1 Real Estate Plat-Book of the City of Allegheny, vol. 2, plate 5. G. M. Hopkins & Co., Philadelphia, 1890. http://historicpittsburgh.org/maps-hopkins/1890-volume-2-plat-book-allegheny; included in the 1890 layer at Pittsburgh Historic Maps (https://esriurl.com/pittsburgh). [view source]hopkins-1890-allegheny-vol-2
  3. George H. Thurston and J. F. Diffenbacher. Directory of Pittsburgh and Allegheny Cities and Parts of Adjoining Townships, for 1874–75. Thurston & Diffenbacher, Pittsburgh, 1874, p. 415. Historic Pittsburgh 31735055723179. [view source]thurston-diffenbacher-1874
  4. George H. Thurston and J. F. Diffenbacher. Directory of Pittsburgh and Allegheny for 1875–76: Embracing a general directory of the residences of citizens; a full classified business directory; a register of public institutions, benevolent societies and city governments; a directory of the streets, secret societies, schools and churches. Thurston & Diffenbacher, Pittsburgh, 1875, p. 410. Historic Pittsburgh 31735056286960. [view source]thurston-diffenbacher-1875
  5. George H. Thurston and J. F. Diffenbacher. Directory of Pittsburgh and Allegheny for 1876–7: Embracing a general directory of the residences of citizens, full classified business directory, register of public institutions, benevolent societies and city governments, directory of the streets, secret societies, schools and churches. Thurston & Diffenbacher, Pittsburgh, 1876, p. 418. Google Books 8dkCAAAAYAAJ; Historic Pittsburgh 31735038288480. [view source]thurston-diffenbacher-1876
  6. J. F. Diffenbacher. J. F. Diffenbacher's Directory of Pittsburgh & Allegheny Cities for 1882–'83: Embracing a general directory of residences of citizens, full classified business directory, register of public institutions, benevolent societies, and city government; directory of the streets, secret societies, schools and churches, twenty-sixth [sic] annual issue. Diffenbacher & Thurston, Pittsburgh, 1882, p. 50. Historic Pittsburgh 31735051650889. [view source]diffenbacher-1882
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 7.4 7.5 7.6 7.7 "Old landmark on Northside tumbling down: St. Mary's cemetery chapel unable any longer to withstand ravages of time: Frequently desecrated: Abandoned 21 years, it has been used for boxing and chicken fights." Pittsburgh Post, Nov. 17, 1912, fourth section, p. 6. Newspapers.com 86387889. [view source]old-landmark
  8. "Vandals prowl in church yard: Treasure lures them to desecrate priests' graves in old St. Mary's." Pittsburg Press, June 26, 1905, p. 16. Newspapers.com 141838627. [view source]vandals-prowl
  9. "Allegheny lies upon nine hills: Eternal City's distinction has its counterpart in portion of Greater Pittsburgh: Many picturesque spots." Pittsburgh Gazette Times, Oct. 6, 1907, fourth section, p. 6. Newspapers.com 85423001. [view source]nine-hills
  10. 10.0 10.1 "Nunnery Hill chapel razed: Landmark on Northside torn down after 50 years' existence." Pittsburgh Post, Feb. 16, 1913, second section, p. 6. Newspapers.com 87976976. [view source]nunnery-hill-chapel-razed
  11. "Antenna tower completed for radio station WWSW: Slender spire rises 350 feet on Northside hill; new transmitter building under way." Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Sept. 23, 1939, p. 5. Newspapers.com 88915331. [view source]antenna-tower
  12. Si Steinhauser. "New radio tower is completed: WWSW prepares to dedicate plant within city." Pittsburgh Press, Oct. 5, 1939, p. 20. Newspapers.com 141368609. [view source]new-radio-tower
  13. "A sailor makes it ship-shape." Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Aug. 13, 1941, p. 18. Newspapers.com 89890145. [view source]sailor-makes-it-ship-shape
  14. "Channel 11 affiliated with NBC: July 15 is target date for opening of new TV station." Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Mar. 30, 1957, p. 1. Newspapers.com 89451365. [view source]channel-11-affiliated
  15. "Channel 11 going on air tomorrow: 5 p. m. dedication to be followed by NBC programs." Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Aug. 31, 1957, p. 1. Newspapers.com 89442541. [view source]channel-11-going-on-air
  16. Barbara Holsopple. "ABC premieres 'Breaking Away' tomorrow: WIIC-TV officials negotiating for call letters WPXI." Pittsburgh Press, Nov. 28, 1980, p. D-14. Newspapers.com 146788004. [view source]holsopple-wiic
  17. Barbara Holsopple. "Through Freedom of Information Act: WDUQ-FM to air tapes of Jim Jones, followers." Pittsburgh Press, Apr. 18, 1981, p. B-12. Newspapers.com 146739050. [view source]holsopple-wduq
  18. "Resolution changing the name of Cemetary [sic] Lane, from Lanark Street to Meadeville [sic] Street in the Twenty-Fifth (25th) Ward of the City of Pittsburgh, to Television Hill Street." Pittsburgh city resolution, 1981, no. 624. Passed June 22, 1981; approved July 2, 1981; effective July 13, 1981. In Municipal Record: Minutes of the proceedings of the Council of the City of Pittsburgh: For the year 1981, appendix, p. 565 (Internet Archive Pghmunicipalrecord1981volA, Pghmunicipalrecord1981volB). [view source]resolution-1981-624
  19. Bob Regan. The Names of Pittsburgh: How the city, neighborhoods, streets, parks and more got their names, pp. 183–186. The Local History Company, Pittsburgh, 2009, ISBN 978-0-9770429-7-5. [view source]regan