Graeme Street

From Pittsburgh Streets
Graeme Street
Neighborhood Central Business District
Origin of name Graeme Stewart, character in "The Head of Iron"
Union Street (ca. 1800 – 1910)

Graeme Street, from Fifth Avenue to the northwest corner of Market Square (see Market Place), was not part of George Woods' original plan of Pittsburgh in 1784,[1] but it was created as Union Street shortly thereafter. An 1807 advertisement in the Pittsburgh Gazette offered for sale "Two brick houses, & lots, Situate on Union Street and the Diamond, and on the same range with George Stevenson's tavern."[2] The 1819 directory of James M. Riddle and M. M. Murray, in its street listing, includes "Union street, from the N. W. corner of the Diamond to 5th street."[3] "The Diamond" or Diamond Square was today's Market Square, so called because of its shape. Other markets in the city were also called diamonds, such as the Allegheny Diamond (today's Allegheny Commons).[4][5] Through the latter half of the nineteenth century, the western side of the Diamond was considered part of Union Street,[6][7][8] but by the beginning of the twentieth century the perimeter of the Diamond had become known as North, East, South, and West Diamond Streets.[9][10][11]

The name Union probably referred to the United States. In 1923, Annie Clark Miller wrote, "The street names Liberty, Union, Congress, Federal, Penn and Webster are reminiscent of the patriotic spirit of the early times."[12] However, it is likely that she was referring to Union Avenue on the North Side (today's Union Place).

In 1910, over 900 streets were renamed to eliminate duplicates. Both Diamond Square and the Allegheny Diamond were bounded by streets named North, East, South, and West Diamond Streets, so both sets of streets were renamed. Since Union Street was viewed as an extension of West Diamond Street, it was renamed along with it to Graeme Street.[13][14] The other streets around the Diamond were renamed Byng, Drummond, and Marjorie: these are all characters in an obscure 1908 historical novel, "The Head of Iron," written by Pittsburgh journalist Burd Shippen Patterson for the sesquicentennial celebration of John Forbes' 1758 founding of Pittsburgh (see Market Place.)[15] Graeme Street is named for the main character, Graeme Stewart, partly inspired by Hugh Mercer, for whom Mercer Street is named.[15] Patterson was the secretary of the Western Pennsylvania Historical Society and was consulted by Robert Clark, the Pittsburgh deputy city clerk, in the process of choosing the new street names.[16]

George T. Fleming assumed that Graeme Street was named for Dr. Graeme, "a member of Gov. Denny's council, and the father-in-law of Lieut.-Col. Joseph Shippen, who served on the staff during the [Forbes] expedition."[17]

Just four years later, in 1914, the streets around the perimeter of Market Square, including the part of Graeme Street that had been West Diamond Street, were renamed Market Place.[18] But the segment of Graeme Street from Fifth Avenue to the northwest corner of Market Square still carries that name today.

See also


  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. Joseph Davis. "For sale: Two brick houses, & lots." Pittsburgh Gazette, July 21, 1807, p. 3. 96059924. [view source]davis-joseph
  3. James M. Riddle and M. M. Murray. The Pittsburgh Directory for 1819: Containing the names, professons [sic], and residence of all the heads of families, and persons in business, in the city of Pittsburgh, and its suburbs; and a variety of other useful information. Butler & Lambdin, Pittsburgh, 1819. Internet Archive pittsburghdirect00murr. [view source]riddle-murray
  4. George T. Fleming, ed. Pittsburgh: How to see it: A complete, reliable guide book with illustrations, the latest map and complete index. William G. Johnston Co., Pittsburgh, 1916. Google Books 02NAAAAAYAAJ; Internet Archive bub_gb_02NAAAAAYAAJ, pittsburghhowtos01flem. [view source]how-to-see-it
  5. George Swetnam. "Diamond St. name defended by history: Forbes never touched it." Pittsburgh Press, May 7, 1957, pp. 1, 4. 148045514, 148045722. [view source]swetnam-diamond
  6. Atlas of the Cities of Pittsburgh, Allegheny, and the Adjoining Boroughs. G. M. Hopkins & Co., Philadelphia, 1872.; 1872 layer at Pittsburgh Historic Maps ( [view source]hopkins-1872
  7. Atlas of the Cities Pittsburgh and Allegheny. G. M. Hopkins & Co., Philadelphia, 1882.; 1882 layer at Pittsburgh Historic Maps ( [view source]hopkins-1882
  8. Atlas of the City of Pittsburgh, vol. 1. G. M. Hopkins & Co., Philadelphia, 1889.; included in the 1890 layer at Pittsburgh Historic Maps ( [view source]hopkins-1889-vol-1
  9. Real Estate Plat-Book of the City of Pittsburgh, vol. 3. G. M. Hopkins & Co., Philadelphia, 1900. [view source]hopkins-1900-vol-3
  10. 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
  11. Atlas of Greater Pittsburgh. G. M. Hopkins & Co., Philadelphia, 1910.; 1910 layer at Pittsburgh Historic Maps ( [view source]hopkins-1910
  12. 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. 23. Pittsburgh Chapter Daughters of the American Revolution, 1924. Historic Pittsburgh 00awn8211m; Internet Archive earlylandmarksna00mill. [view source]miller
  13. Real Estate Plat-Book of the City of Pittsburgh, vol. 2. G. M. Hopkins & Co., Philadelphia, 1914. [view source]hopkins-1914-vol-2
  14. "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
  15. 15.0 15.1 Burd Shippen Patterson. "The Head of Iron": A romance of colonial Pennsylvania. T. M. Walker, Pittsburgh, 1908. Google Books rw8ZAAAAYAAJ; Historic Pittsburgh 00awk9111m. [view source]patterson
  16. "'Ridiculous' and 'silly,' a 'huge joke': Changes of street names bring criticism on Clerk Clark; telephones ring—sharp queries keep wires hot: Historical Society indorses the work." Pittsburg Press, July 28, 1909, pp. 1–2. 141334964, 141334983. [view source]ridiculous
  17. George T. Fleming. "Wood's [sic] plan of Pittsburgh: Thomas Vickroy's account of the survey of 1784 and parts taken in city's early life by Craig and Bayard." Pittsburgh Gazette Times, Dec. 13, 1914, sec. 2, p. 2. 85908612. [view source]fleming-woods
  18. "An ordinance changing the names of certain streets in the City of Pittsburgh." Pittsburgh city ordinance, 1914, no. 372. Passed Oct. 20, 1914; approved Oct. 22, 1914. Ordinance Book 26, p. 319. Reprinted in the Pittsburgh Post, Oct. 31, 1914, p. 10 ( 88654234). [view source]ordinance-1914-372