|Neighborhood||Central Business District|
|Origin of name||Slaughtering location for chickens sold in Market Square|
Chicken Alley was the unofficial name of a narrow alley and small courtyard off Diamond Street (today Forbes Avenue) just east of Market Square. It earned this name from its use as a location for the slaughter of countless chickens to be sold at the meat stands in the nearby market houses in the late 19th century. It was evidently a remarkably disgusting place. According to a newspaper column from 1889, "The court is laid in brick, but the drainage is faulty, and stagnant pools of water and offal stand around." The description continued, "everything around [is] stained black with dried blood, in which soiled feathers are sticking."
It was used as a symbol of wretchedness, in opposition to Schenley Park, in a satirical 1903 newspaper article suggesting that readers celebrate the Fourth of July at Snyder's Park. This park was located in the Strip District, bounded by Liberty Avenue, Spring Alley (today Spring Way), 29th Street, and 30th Street.
A 1909 newspaper column related the supposedly true story of a cat that was so frightened by a ferret that it jumped out a 20th-story window. The story ended in Chicken Alley, where the cat ate a fish it had stolen from the market house.
Also in 1909, a drunken constable attempted to arrest a man for shooting in a shooting gallery. An angry mob chased the constable into Chicken Alley, where he was arrested by a policeman. The next morning the constable was fined $25.
The end of Chicken Alley came in 1929 when the area was turned into a parking lot for Donahoe's food store. Five buildings around Chicken Alley were razed, including the old Merchants Bank and the Diamond Light and Power building.
- Atlas of the City of Pittsburgh, vol. 1, plate 4. G. M. Hopkins & Co., Philadelphia, 1889. view source] hopkins-1889-vol-1 ; included in the 1890 layer at Pittsburgh Historic Maps ( ). [
- "Persons and things." Pittsburgh Post, Mar. 25, 1889, p. 4. Newspapers.com 86437613. [view source] persons-and-things
- "Speak-easies raided: Beer and other liquors found in three different places." Pittsburg Post, July 29, 1895, p. 6. Newspapers.com 86379666. [view source] speak-easies
- "Food shoppers' park: On old bank site." Pittsburgh Sunday Sun-Telegraph, Apr. 28, 1929, part 6, p. 8. Newspapers.com 523072927. [view source] food-shoppers-park
- "Police docket pointers." Pittsburg Dispatch, Dec. 8, 1891, p. 9. Newspapers.com 76229791. [view source] police-docket-pointers
- "No formality when they met: Fleming and Miller had no trouble in getting acquainted: Battle in Chicken alley: Disorderly houses in Greasy alley raided last night: Women heavily fined." Pittsburg Press, Apr. 10, 1903, p. 12. Newspapers.com 141926076. [view source] no-formality
- "Three paid fines: Arrested because they did not have a good lookout." Pittsburg Press, Jan. 26, 1898, p. 8. Newspapers.com 141918744. [view source] three-paid-fines
- "Williams in a lively scene: There was trouble galore at Lorraine place last night: Mrs. Williams knocked out: Black Kate's return nearly caused a tragedy: The woman used a knife." Pittsburg Press, Aug. 2, 1904, p. 3. Newspapers.com 141845711. [view source] williams-in-a-lively-scene
- "A park bulging with patriotism: Put your Fourth in at Snyder's park, which makes Schenley look like Chicken alley." Pittsburg Post, July 4, 1903, p. 11. Newspapers.com 86396954. [view source] park-bulging
- Atlas of the City of Pittsburgh, vol. 2, plate 8. G. M. Hopkins & Co., Philadelphia, 1889. view source] hopkins-1889-vol-2 ; included in the 1890 layer at Pittsburgh Historic Maps ( ). [
- "May not have nine lives, but are tough: A true story of the skyscrape, the cat, the ferret and the market house fish." Pittsburgh Post, Feb. 27, 1909, p. 11. Newspapers.com 86416816. [view source] may-not-have-nine-lives
- "Police court sketches." Pittsburg Press, Oct. 6, 1909, p. 3. Newspapers.com 141357415. [view source] police-court-sketches