French Street

From Pittsburgh Streets
French Street
Neighborhood Central Business District
Fayette Alley (until ca. 1850)
Origin of name Fort Fayette
Fayette Street (ca. 1850 – 1910)
Origin of name Fort Fayette

This street is listed as Fayette Alley in the 1826 directory of Samuel Jones.[1] It appears in the 1830 map of Jean Barbeau and Lewis Keyon, from Hand Street (today Ninth Street) to Wayne Street (today 10th Street) between Penn Avenue and the Allegheny River, crossing Garrison Alley (today Garrison Place).[2]

Fayette Alley was named for Fort Fayette (or Fort Lafayette), which was built at Hand Street and Penn Avenue in 1792.[3][4][5][6] The fort was named for the Marquis de Lafayette (1757–1834), the French military officer who became a hero in the American Revolutionary War and later in the French Revolution.[7][6] Garrison Alley was also named for its location at Fort Fayette.

Fayette Alley became known as Fayette Street by 1852.[8]

In 1910, after the annexation of Allegheny City, over 900 streets were renamed to fix duplicates. There was another Fayette Street in Allegheny (today the part of North Avenue west of Bidwell Street), so the Fayette Street downtown was changed to French Street.[9] This preserved the first letter of the street name and did have some connection to the old name, since Lafayette was, of course, French.


  1. S. Jones. Pittsburgh in the Year Eighteen Hundred and Twenty-Six: Containing sketches topographical, historical and statistical; together with a directory of the city, and a view of its various manufactures, population, improvements, &c. Johnston & Stockton, Pittsburgh, 1826, p. 100. PGH_ALLEGH1826_CDM; Historic Pittsburgh 31735056290285; Internet Archive Pgh1826. [view source]jones
  2. Jean Barbeau and Lewis Keyon. Map of Pittsburgh and Its Environs. N. B. Molineux, Pittsburgh, 1830. Historic Pittsburgh DARMAP0576; [view source]barbeau
  3. Victor Collot. Plan of the Town of Pittsburg. 1826. In Victor Collot, A Journey in North America: Containing a survey of the countries watered by the Mississipi [sic], Ohio, Missouri, and other affluing rivers; with exact observations on the course and soundings of these rivers; and on the towns, villages, hamlets and farms of that part of the New-World; followed by philosophical, political, military and commercial remarks and by a projected line of frontiers and general limits: Illustrated by 36 maps, plans, views and divers cuts, vol. 2 (atlas), plate 6, Arthur Bertrand, Paris, 1826 (Historic Pittsburgh 31735061295659).; 1796 layer at Pittsburgh Historic Maps ( Reproduced in Stefan Lorant, Pittsburgh: The story of an American city, 5th (Millennium) ed., p. 93, Esselmont Books, Pittsburgh, 1999, ISBN 0-967-41030-4 (LCCN 99-066641). [view source]collot
  4. 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, sec. 5, p. 2. 85906737. [view source]fleming-history-told
  5. William G. Johnston. Life and Reminiscences from Birth to Manhood of Wm. G. Johnston, p. 29. Knickerbocker Press, New York, 1901. Google Books N-QEAAAAYAAJ; Historic Pittsburgh 00adj9508m; Internet Archive lifereminiscence00john. [view source]johnston
  6. 6.0 6.1 "Under the hammer: The site of old Fort Fayette to be sold at public auction to-morrow: An historic landmark: Must give way to the march of progress in Pittsburg: Now a recruiting station: The purchase may bring a suit for damages against the city: Meeting place for noted generals." Pittsburg Dispatch, Oct. 27, 1891, pp. 1–2. 87269567, 87269594. [view source]under-the-hammer
  7. 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, p. 26. Pittsburgh Chapter Daughters of the American Revolution, 1924. Historic Pittsburgh 00awn8211m; Internet Archive earlylandmarksna00mill. [view source]miller
  8. 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
  9. "An ordinance changing the names of certain avenues, streets, lanes and alleys in the City of Pittsburgh." Pittsburgh city ordinance, 1910, no. 715. Passed Mar. 31, 1910; approved Apr. 5, 1910. Ordinance Book 21, p. 342. In Municipal Record: Minutes of the proceedings of the [Select and Common Councils] of the City of Pittsburgh for the years 1909–1910, appendix, pp. 312–328, Devine & Co., Pittsburgh, 1910 (Google Books doQzAQAAMAAJ; HathiTrust uiug.30112108223832; Internet Archive Pghmunicipalrecord1909). Reprinted in the Pittsburgh Post, Apr. 19, 1910, pp. 10–11 ( 86611990, 86612022), Apr. 20, pp. 10–11 ( 86612278, 86612297), and Apr. 21, pp. 10–11 ( 86612601, 86612625). [view source]ordinance-1910-715