Chancery Way

From Pittsburgh Streets
Chancery Way
Neighborhood Central Business District
Chancery Lane (1764 – ca. 1980)

Chancery Lane 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), Third Street (today Third Avenue), Ferry Street (today Stanwix Street), and Market Street.[1][2][3] 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][3]:487–488[4]

Several sources say that the lane was named after Chancery Lane in the City of London, which is associated with the legal profession, because Pittsburgh's first courthouse was nearby and the street was frequented by judges and lawyers.[5][6] The connection to the well known London street is broadly plausible, but the specific details are inaccurate, as the first courthouse in Pittsburgh was not built until about 1790, many years after Campbell's plan; it was located on the west side of Market Street in the Diamond (today's Market Square).[2][7][8][9][10][11][12] Joe Bennett adds that Chancery Lane was earlier known as Jail Alley (today's Delray Street).[5] James M. Riddle's 1815 Pittsburgh directory lists "Chancery lane, (called in this work Jail alley)," which supports this identification.[13]

It is not clear when Chancery Lane began to be known as Chancery Way. Two maps from 1855 and 1903 call it Chancery Alley,[14][15] but these are exceptions. It was probably not affected by the 1914 city ordinance changing the names of all alleys to "Way,"[16] because it was a lane, not an alley. It is called Chancery Lane on maps and in street guides at least as late as 1953.[17][18][19] On the other hand, the name Chancery Way appears as early as 1923 in newspaper stories about a robbery at a gasoline station.[20][21] Both Lane and Way appear in newspapers throughout the 20th century; Lane is more common but fades out around 1980. Current street signs say Chancery Way.


  1. John Campbell. Plan of Lots in Pittsburgh—1764. 1764. Reproduced in William G. Johnston, Life and Reminiscences from Birth to Manhood of Wm. G. Johnston, Knickerbocker Press, New York, 1901 (Google Books N-QEAAAAYAAJ; Historic Pittsburgh 00adj9508m; Internet Archive lifereminiscence00john); in George T. Fleming, "Flem's" Views of Old Pittsburgh: A portfolio of the past precious with memories, p. 5, Geo. T. Fleming, Pittsburgh, 1905 (HathiTrust 011204797, 100770599; Historic Pittsburgh 31735056290277; Internet Archive flemsviewsofoldp00flem; LCCN 08028848); in George T. Fleming, "History told in Pittsburgh street names: Some commemorative designations have been lost, but others are still in use to recall the story of their selection: Haphazard municipal nomenclature," Pittsburgh Gazette Times, Nov. 29, 1914, fifth section, p. 2 ( 85906737); in George T. Fleming, "History from an old map: Masson's map of Pittsburgh, 1805, further considered—Campbell's plan of 1764, Woods and Vickroy's complete plan of 1784—the old military plan unwillingly retained—Vickroy's deposition quoted: Pioneer names enumerated as lot owners; Historic characters recalled by names on Masson's plan—explanation of numbering of lots and some mention of freeholders—Imlay's topographical description of 1793," Pittsburgh Gazette Times, July 16, 1922, second section, p. 2 ( 85913850); in George T. Fleming, Fleming's Views of Old Pittsburgh: A portfolio of the past, p. 10, Crescent Press, Pittsburgh, 1932; in George Swetnam, "Ferry Street historic, one of oldest in city: Backward switch gives recognition to man undeserving of honor," Pittsburgh Press, Nov. 25, 1954, p. 16 ( 149015965); in Bruce J. Buvinger, The Origin, Development and Persistence of Street Patterns in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, p. 21; and in Bob Regan, The Names of Pittsburgh: How the city, neighborhoods, streets, parks and more got their names, p. 57, The Local History Company, Pittsburgh, 2009, ISBN 978-0-9770429-7-5. This map is often called the "military plan of Pittsburgh." [view source]campbell
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Neville B. Craig. 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. Google Books cE0OAAAAIAAJ; HathiTrust 001263103; Historic Pittsburgh 00aee7261m, 31735056285699; Internet Archive historyofpittsbu00crai. [view source]craig
  3. 3.0 3.1 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. Google Books DwzYAAAAMAAJ; Internet Archive historyofalleghe1889cush. [view source]history-of-allegheny-county
  4. George Woods. 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). [view source]woods-plat
  5. 5.0 5.1 Joe Bennett. "Second-class streets." Pittsburgh Press, Dec. 4, 1977, Roto, pp. 36–41. 147074260, 147074279, 147074293, 147074305, 147074319, 147074338. [view source]bennett
  6. James K. DeLaney. "Spectres of past haunt Pittsburgh's corner signposts: Street names 'pennants of tribute.'" Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Mar. 30, 1967, [p. 41]. 88235360. [view source]delaney
  7. Wm. Darby. Plan of Pittsburg and Adjacent Country. R. Patterson and W. Darby, Philadelphia, 1815. Historic Pittsburgh DARMAP0197, DARMAP0198. Reproduced in John W. Reps, The Making of Urban America: A history of city planning in the United States, p. 207, Princeton University Press, Princeton, N. J., 1965 (LCCN 63023414); and in Bruce J. Buvinger, The Origin, Development and Persistence of Street Patterns in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, p. 24. Also reproduced as "Plan von Pittsburg und Umgebungen" in Bernhard, Duke of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach (Heinrich Luden, ed.), Reise Sr. Hoheit des Herzogs Bernhard zu Sachsen-Weimar-Eisenach durch Nord-Amerika in den Jahren 1825 und 1826, vol. II, following p. 200, Wilhelm Hoffmann, Weimar, 1828 (Internet Archive reisesrhoheitdes00bern, reisesrhoheitdes00inbern). [view source]darby
  8. History of Pittsburgh and Environs, vol. 2. American Historical Society, New York and Chicago, 1922. Google Books 3staAAAAYAAJ, TPUMAAAAYAAJ; HathiTrust 011262563; Internet Archive historypittsbur00yorkgoog, historypittsbur02socigoog. [view source]history-pgh-environs-2
  9. William G. Johnston. Life and Reminiscences from Birth to Manhood of Wm. G. Johnston. Knickerbocker Press, New York, 1901. Google Books N-QEAAAAYAAJ; Historic Pittsburgh 00adj9508m; Internet Archive lifereminiscence00john. [view source]johnston
  10. A. A. Lambing and J. W. F. White. Allegheny County: Its early history and subsequent development, p. 90. Snowden & Peterson, Pittsburgh, 1888. Google Books 6bY-AAAAYAAJ; HathiTrust 008957728, 100693049; Historic Pittsburgh 00aee8946m; Internet Archive centennialhistor00lamb; LCCN 18008828. [view source]lambing
  11. Lois Mulkearn and Edwin V. Pugh. A Traveler's Guide to Historic Western Pennsylvania, p. 40. University of Pittsburgh Press, Pittsburgh, 1954. Historic Pittsburgh 31735057894978. [view source]mulkearn-pugh
  12. Erasmus Wilson, ed. Standard History of Pittsburg, Pennsylvania. H. R. Cornell & Co., Chicago, 1898. Google Books 1dcwAQAAMAAJ; Historic Pittsburgh 00hc03974m; Internet Archive standardhistoryo00wils. [view source]wilson-erasmus
  13. James M. Riddle. The Pittsburgh Directory for 1815: Containing the names, professions and residence of the heads of families and persons in business, in the borough of Pittsburgh, with an appendix containing a variety of useful information. James M. Riddle, Pittsburgh, 1815. Internet Archive pittsburghdirect00ridd. Republished by the Colonial Trust Co., Pittsburgh, 1905 (Google Books 9ihRAAAAYAAJ; Historic Pittsburgh 00ach3238m); and by Duquesne Smelting Corporation, Pittsburgh, 1940 (Internet Archive pittsburghdirect00repu). [view source]riddle
  14. The Cities of Pittsburgh and Allegheny, with Parts of Adjacent Boroughs, Pennsylvania. 1855. Historic Pittsburgh DARMAP0089;; 1855 layer at Pittsburgh Historic Maps ( In George W. Colton, Colton's Atlas of the World: Illustrating physical and political geography, J. H. Colton & Co., New York, 1856 ( [view source]colton
  15. Real Estate Plat-Book of the City of Pittsburgh, supplement to vol. 3. G. M. Hopkins & Co., Philadelphia, 1903. [view source]hopkins-1903-vol-3-supp
  16. "An ordinance changing the name 'Alley' on every thoroughfare in the City of Pittsburgh, to 'Way.'" Pittsburgh city ordinance, 1914, no. 402. Passed Nov. 10, 1914; approved Nov. 16, 1914. Ordinance Book 26, p. 360. Reprinted in the Pittsburgh Post, Nov. 23, 1914, p. 11 ( 86505785), and Nov. 24, p. 12 ( 86505809). [view source]ordinance-1914-402
  17. Bloom's Street Guide and Transportation Directory of Pittsburgh and Important Suburbs: Showing streets in the City of Pittsburgh, cross streets, range of street numbers . . . also streets in Wilkinsburg, Edgewood, Swissvale, Bellevue, Avalon, Emsworth, Ben Avon, Crafton, Ingram, Mt. Lebanon, Dormont, Mt. Oliver, Brentwood . . . complete street car and motor bus service available to all nearby boroughs and towns. Steel City Publishing Co., Pittsburgh, 1947. [view source]bloom-1947
  18. Alexander Gross. The Complete Street Guide to Pittsburgh and 16 Nearby Suburbs: With large map of Pittsburgh and suburbs; streets, house numbers, transportation lines, places of interest, churches, etc., etc. Geographia Map Co. Inc., New York, 1953. PghStreets1953M. [view source]gross
  19. Alexander Gross. Pittsburgh and Vicinity: Featuring transit lines and house numbers. Geographia Map Co. Inc., New York, 1953. Published with Alexander Gross, The Complete Street Guide to Pittsburgh and 16 Nearby Suburbs: With large map of Pittsburgh and suburbs; streets, house numbers, transportation lines, places of interest, churches, etc., etc., Geographia Map Co. Inc., New York, 1953 ( PghStreets1953M). A slightly different version entitled The Premier Map of Pittsburgh and Vicinity is reproduced in Sam Stephenson, ed., Dream Street: W. Eugene Smith's Pittsburgh project, pp. 22–23, University of Chicago Press, Chicago and London, 2023, ISBN 978-0-226-82483-3 (LCCN 2022055151). [view source]gross-map
  20. "Bandit who robbed gas station still at large." Pittsburgh Press, Feb. 6, 1923, p. 17. 149531834. [view source]bandit
  21. "Masked thug robs gasoline station in Second avenue." Pittsburgh Post, Feb. 6, 1923, p. 1. 86508197. [view source]masked-thug