First Street

From Pittsburgh Streets
For other streets named First Street, see First Street (disambiguation).
First Street
Neighborhood Central Business District
Origin of name Sequential numbering up the Allegheny River
Fate Vacated in 1901
Duquesne Street (ca. 1850 – 1868)
Origin of name Fort Duquesne
Second Street (1868–1875)
Origin of name Sequential numbering up the Allegheny River

In the mid-nineteenth century, Duquesne Street ran from Penn Avenue down to Duquesne Way (today's Fort Duquesne Boulevard) on the bank of the Allegheny River, near the Point. It was not part of George Woods' original plan of Pittsburgh of 1784, in which Marbury Street (today's Commonwealth Place) was the street nearest the Point.[1] It appears on maps from 1852,[2] 1855[3] (written as "DuQuesne St."), and 1856.[4] It was likely named for Fort Duquesne, built by the French at the Forks of the Ohio (the Point) in April 1754 and destroyed by them on the approach of the British expedition under General John Forbes (eponym of Forbes Avenue) in November 1758. The fort was named in honor of Ange Duquesne de Menneville, Marquis Duquesne (1700–1778), Governor General of New France from 1752 to 1755.[5][6]

In 1868, Pittsburgh's modern sequence of numbered streets was created by renaming all the streets perpendicular to the Allegheny River. Duquesne Street was renamed Second Street because it was the second such significant street from the Point (after Point Street, later Fort Street; apparently Point Alley, even closer to the Point, did not count).[7][8] The same ordinance also changed the name of the original Second Street to Second Avenue.

In 1875, a plan for the improvement of streets in the Point District called for the opening of a new street between Second Street and Third Street. In order to maintain continuity in street numbering, the new street was to be called Second Street, with the existing Second Street renamed First Street, and the existing First Street renamed Fort Street.[9][10][11]

First Street was vacated by a city ordinance in 1901, along with Second Street and Greentree Alley, as part of a plan to build warehouses at the Point.[12][13][14][15][16] Soon Point Alley and Fort Street were also vacated, which sparked a lengthy legal and political battle between the city and property developers on one side and the Daughters of the American Revolution, who owned the Fort Pitt Block House, on the other. See Fort Street for the story of the fight to save the Block House.


  1. 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
  2. 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. [view source]mcgowin-1852
  3. 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
  4. 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
  5. Bruce S. Cridlebaugh. "Field notes: Changing Pittsburgh street names—from downtown to Lawrenceville." Bridges & tunnels of Allegheny County & Pittsburgh, PA, Feb. 9, 2000. [view source]cridlebaugh
  6. Emily M. Weaver. The Fort Pitt Block House, p. 16. History Press, Charleston, S. C., 2013, ISBN 978-1-60949-933-4. [view source]weaver-block-house
  7. Sarah H. Killikelly. The History of Pittsburgh: Its rise and progress, p. 534. B. C. & Gordon Montgomery Co., Pittsburgh, 1906. HistPgh1909M; Google Books kXmloex-vr8C, poRU0YjqrzsC; HathiTrust 100122020; Historic Pittsburgh 00adc8925m; Internet Archive historyofpittsbu00kill, historypittsbur00killgoog. [view source]killikelly
  8. "An ordinance changing the names of streets." Pittsburgh city ordinance, 1868. Passed Aug. 31, 1868. In The Municipal Record: Containing the proceedings of the Select and Common Councils of the City of Pittsburgh: 1868, Pittsburgh Daily Commercial, Pittsburgh (Internet Archive pghmunicipalrecord1868_20200904_2014). Reprinted in the Pittsburgh Gazette, Sept. 2, 1868, p. 5 ( 86347563), Sept. 3, p. 3 ( 86347623), and Sept. 4, p. 3 ( 86347714). [view source]ordinance-1868-name-changes
  9. "An ordinance changing the name of Second street to First street." Pittsburgh city ordinance, 1875, no. 107. Passed Nov. 15, 1875; approved Nov. 20, 1875. Ordinance Book 4, p. 145. In Municipal Record: Minutes of the proceedings of the Select & Common Councils of the City of Pittsburgh for the year 1875, p. 194, Herald Printing Company, Pittsburgh, 1876 (Google Books QblEAQAAMAAJ; HathiTrust chi.096598889; Internet Archive pghmunicipalrecord1875). Reprinted in the Pittsburgh Gazette, Dec. 11, 1875, [p. 2] ( 86343984). [view source]ordinance-1875-107
  10. "An ordinance locating Second street." Pittsburgh city ordinance, 1875, no. 108. Passed Nov. 15, 1875; approved Nov. 20, 1875. Ordinance Book 4, p. 146. In Municipal Record: Minutes of the proceedings of the Select & Common Councils of the City of Pittsburgh for the year 1875, p. 195, Herald Printing Company, Pittsburgh, 1876 (Google Books QblEAQAAMAAJ; HathiTrust chi.096598889; Internet Archive pghmunicipalrecord1875). Reprinted in the Pittsburgh Gazette, Dec. 11, 1875, p. 2 ( 86343984). [view source]ordinance-1875-108
  11. "Pittsburgh councils: Regular meeting yesterday: Considering the retrenchment ordinances—legal points raised—an interesting discussion—the ordinances favorably acted upon in Select Council—the police pay reduced—the firemen not touched—the city printing—the codification of the ordinances." Pittsburgh Gazette, Dec. 14, 1875, [p. 4]. 86344074. [view source]pittsburgh-councils
  12. "Big improvement is now assured: Common council decrees the street vacations needed by warehouse scheme: Mrs. Schenley to give bond: Assurances of this fact overcame objections and a demand for delay: Select likely to act soon." Pittsburg Post, Oct. 29, 1901, p. 7. 86383884. [view source]big-improvement
  13. "Close vote on three vacating ordinances: Surveys committee of Councils, by vote of 12 to 10, favors grants in the point district—victory for the Schenley estate." Pittsburg Press, Oct. 26, 1901, p. 2. 141915976. [view source]close-vote
  14. "An ordinance authorizing the vacation of First street, from Penn avenue to Duquesne way." Pittsburgh city ordinance, 1901, no. 377. Passed Nov. 25, 1901; approved Dec. 6, 1901. Ordinance Book 14, p. 251. Reprinted in the Pittsburg Post, Dec. 11, 1901, p. 7 ( 86389443); and in the Pittsburg Press, Dec. 11, 1901, p. 12 ( 141825301). [view source]ordinance-1901-377
  15. "Point district to be vacated: City will be reimbursed by Mrs. Schenley's agents for street improvements: Great warehouses going up: Councils pass many measures for sewer work---more contracts to be made: M'Tighe's death lamented." Pittsburg Post, Nov. 26, 1901, p. 9. 86389154. [view source]point
  16. "To investigate a city office: City assessors said to be doing too much political work: Busy meeting of councils: Select councils pass two resolutions over Brown's veto: Common was quite lively." Pittsburg Press, Oct. 29, 1901, p. 11. 141918282. [view source]to-investigate