Centre Avenue

From Pittsburgh Streets
Centre Avenue
Neighborhoods Bloomfield, Central Business District, Crawford-Roberts, East Liberty, Friendship, Middle Hill, North Oakland, Shadyside, Terrace Village, Upper Hill
Wikipedia Centre Avenue (Pittsburgh)
Pittsburgh and Coal Hill Turnpike (1830s)
Seventh Street Road (mid-1800s)
Collins Street (until 2013)
Portion Between Penn Avenue and East Liberty Boulevard
Penn Circle South (1968–2013)
Portion Between Euclid and Penn Avenues
Penn Circle East (1968–2013)
Portion Between Penn Avenue and Station Street

A road in the location of today's Centre Avenue appears on Lewis Keyon's 1835 map, part of a road labeled the Pittsburg & Coal Hill Turnpike (see Wylie Avenue).[1] This formed part of what was commonly called the Seventh Street Road.[2][3][4][5] In 1915, George T. Fleming wrote, "Center avenue extending from Fulton street, now called Fullerton, to Penn avenue in the former village of East Liberty is the shortest route to that district. Before the Civil War this thoroughfare was known as the Seventh street road. It began at Liberty and Seventh street, since called Seventh avenue. . . . The road went up Seventh to Coal Lane, now Webster avenue, turned at Washington street [today's Washington Place], thence to Wylie, to Fulton and Center avenue. The name Seventh street road came from the downtown terminus, just as Fifth avenue beyond Grant street was formerly called the Fourth street road."[6]

Centre Avenue is named in a newspaper notice in 1844: "Those interested will take notice that at the October Term of the Court of Common Pleas of the peace, divers inhabitants of Pitt township petitioned said Court to appoint viewers to view and lay out for public use, a road (known as Dinwiddie street, on the plan of the city of Pittsburgh) in said township, commencing at a point where said Dinwiddie street intersects with Pennsylvania avenue [today's Fifth Avenue], and running with the lines of said Dinwiddie street to a point where it shall intersect with Centre Avenue."[7]

Centre Avenue first appears on maps from the 1850s,[8][9][10] and "Centre av" is listed in George H. Thurston's 1856 directory.[11]

Why is it spelled Centre instead of Center? The most likely answer is simply that this was the more common spelling in the United States at the time. In the American English corpus of Google Ngram Viewer, the spelling centre is about 15 times as common as center in 1840; the spelling center does not overtake centre until about 1906.[12] In a 2006 Post-Gazette column about the demographics of Pittsburgh, Gary Rotstein jokingly suggested that Centre Avenue's spelling is one of the "intelligent things" caused by the high proportion of the city's population with graduate or professional degrees.[13]

In 1968, as part of the urban redevelopment plan in East Liberty, several streets were renamed to create Penn Circle. A segment of Centre Avenue became Penn Circle South, and part of Collins Street became Penn Circle East.[14][15] Penn Circle was abolished in 2013, and the streets were restored approximately to their former names. Penn Circle South and Penn Circle East were both changed to Centre Avenue, as was an additional segment of Collins Street, thus extending Centre Avenue to East Liberty Boulevard.[16][17]

See also


  1. Lewis Keyon. Map of Pittsburgh and Its Environs. Johnston & Stockton, Pittsburgh, 1835. Historic Pittsburgh DARMAP0577; 1835 layer at Pittsburgh Historic Maps (https://esriurl.com/pittsburgh). [view source]keyon
  2. George T. Fleming. "Old Minersville: Directory of Minersville—names of prominent Pittsburgh people reprinted—coal producers of that era—coal mines and coke ovens: Job Inder's recollections drawn on—Pitt Township taxables of 1853 recalled: A forgotten hamlet—tales of a prosperous suburb of eighty years ago—out the Pike, otherwise the old Seventh street road: Hilly Pitt Township located—Isaac Harris' descriptions—a prosperous place." Pittsburgh Gazette Times, Mar. 8, 1925, sec. 5, [p. 2]. Newspapers.com 86280695. [view source]fleming-minersville
  3. George T. Fleming. "Via the Seventh street road: A ride and a walk through old Minersville—the passing of historic township names—memories of the Wylie street car line and the driver of a half century ago—John Herrman and P. Duffy." Pittsburgh Gazette Times, Mar. 15, 1925, sec. 5, p. 2. Newspapers.com 86282624. [view source]fleming-seventh-street-road
  4. George T. Fleming. "The old Sixth Ward: Recollections of the Hill District—two wards numbered sixth distinguished—boundaries of the old ward outlined—famous factories that have passed—Faber's and Price's foundries—the Fort Pitt Chimney Works and other industries: The old Sixth residential in character—well-known streets described—a famous spring: The McCallin livery stable at Elm and Wylie—market baskets delivered at your door—the Barckleys at Gum street—other anecdotes of the time." Pittsburgh Gazette Times, Aug. 24, 1924, sec. 5, [p. 2]. Newspapers.com 85851867. [view source]fleming-sixth-ward
  5. Annie Clark Miller. 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, pp. 49–50. Pittsburgh Chapter Daughters of the American Revolution, 1924. Historic Pittsburgh 00awn8211m; Internet Archive earlylandmarksna00mill. [view source]miller
  6. George T. Fleming. "Center avenue is a famous old road: Quiet thoroughfare known in Pittsburgh history as home of prominent men: Short route to east." Pittsburgh Gazette Times, Oct. 31, 1915, sec. 6, p. 2. Newspapers.com 85899943. [view source]fleming-center
  7. "Road notice." Pittsburgh Daily Gazette and Advertiser, Dec. 14, 1844, [p. 2]. Newspapers.com 95672380. [view source]road-notice
  8. The Cities of Pittsburgh and Allegheny, with Parts of Adjacent Boroughs, Pennsylvania. 1855. Historic Pittsburgh DARMAP0089; https://www.davidrumsey.com/luna/servlet/detail/RUMSEY~8~1~1688~130047; 1855 layer at Pittsburgh Historic Maps (https://esriurl.com/pittsburgh). In George W. Colton, Colton's Atlas of the World: Illustrating physical and political geography, J. H. Colton & Co., New York, 1856 (https://www.davidrumsey.com/luna/servlet/view/search?q=Pub_List_No%3D0149.000). [view source]colton
  9. R. E. McGowin. Map of the Cities of Pittsburgh and Allegheny and of the Boroughs of South-Pittsburgh, Birmingham, East-Birmingham, Lawrenceville, Duquesne & Manchester etc. Schuchman & Haunlein, Pittsburgh, 1852. https://collections.lib.uwm.edu/digital/collection/agdm/id/32269/. [view source]mcgowin-1852
  10. R. E. McGowin. Pittsburgh: Engraved from R. E. McGowin's map for Geo. H. Thurston. Wm. Schuchman & Bro., Pittsburgh, 1856. Historic Pittsburgh DARMAP0091. [view source]mcgowin-1856
  11. George H. Thurston. Directory for 1856–'57, of Pittsburgh and Allegheny Cities, Birmingham, East Birmingham, South & West Pittsburgh, Temperanceville, Manchester, Duquesne and Lawrenceville Boroughs, East Liberty, and Parts of Pitt and Collins Townships. George H. Thurston, Pittsburgh, 1856. Google Books HwYuAAAAYAAJ; HathiTrust 011562263; Historic Pittsburgh 31735038289074. [view source]thurston-1856
  12. "Google Ngram Viewer." https://books.google.com/ngrams/graph?content=center%2Ccentre&year_start=1800&year_end=2000&corpus=17. [view source]centre-ngrams
  13. Gary Rotstein. "The morning file." Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Sept. 1, 2006, p. A-2. Newspapers.com 96572152; https://www.post-gazette.com/news/portfolio/2006/09/01/Pittsburgh-short-on-nationalities-quick-on-commutes/stories/200609010309. [view source]rotstein-morning
  14. "An ordinance changing the name of Rural Street, between North Euclid Avenue and North Highland Avenue, to Penn Circle North; Station Street, between North Highland Avenue and Collins Street, to Penn Circle North; North Euclid Avenue, between Center Avenue and Rural Street, to Penn Circle West; Center Avenue, between North Euclid Avenue and Penn Avenue, to Penn Circle South; Collins Avenue, between Penn Avenue and Station Street, to Penn Circle East; all in the Eighth and Eleventh Wards of the City of Pittsburgh." Pittsburgh city ordinance, 1968, no. 187. Passed Apr. 15, 1968; approved Apr. 22, 1968. Ordinance Book 69, p. 540. In Municipal Record: Minutes of the proceedings of the Council of the City of Pittsburgh: For the year 1968, appendix, p. 120, Park Printing, Inc., Pittsburgh (Internet Archive Pghmunicipalrecord1968). [view source]ordinance-1968-187
  15. "East Liberty opens 'loop road' Monday: Portion of Highland Ave. to be closed with Penn Ave. in business district next." Pittsburgh Press, Apr. 19, 1968, p. 2. Newspapers.com 148899419. [view source]loop-road
  16. Moriah Balingit. "Council to rename Penn Circle." Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Nov. 25, 2013, pp. B-1, B-5. Newspapers.com 96439442, 96439449; https://www.post-gazette.com/local/2013/11/25/Pittsburgh-City-Council-to-consider-Penn-Circle-street-name-changes/stories/201311250149. [view source]balingit
  17. "Resolution changing the names of various streets in the East Liberty neighborhood as per recommendation by the City of Pittsburgh Addressing Committee (CPAC). The names of Penn Circle North, Penn Circle South, Penn Circle East, Penn Circle West, and a portion of Collins Street shall be renamed in accordance with the Pittsburgh Code, Title Four, Public Places and Property, Chapter 420 Uniform Street Naming and Addressing." Pittsburgh city resolution, 2013, no. 788. Passed Dec. 10, 2013; effective Dec. 11, 2013. https://pittsburgh.legistar.com/LegislationDetail.aspx?ID=1524579&GUID=698A7448-BB8B-4AEF-8A45-AA2A09A0DAC7. [view source]resolution-2013-788