Joan Way

From Pittsburgh Streets
Joan Way
Neighborhood Polish Hill
Japan Alley (until 1914)
Japan Way (1914–1942)

Japan Alley was a short alley immediately south of the S-shaped bend in Herron Avenue, joining the eastern end of the bend to a section of Harding Street that is now a set of steps.[1] It first appeared in Diffenbacher's city directory in 1882.[2] It appeared in the Hopkins atlas the same year, though without a name;[3] the 1889 atlas was the first map to include the name Japan Alley.[4] It became Japan Way in 1914 when an ordinance changed all alleys in the city to ways.[5]

The alley was renamed Joan Way in February 1942 amid anti-Japanese sentiment (by the same ordinance that renamed Tokio Street to Tokay Street). The original proposal was to rename it Panjap Way or Pan Jap Way,[6][7][8] a slur produced by swapping the order of the syllables, but the name that passed in the city council was Joan Way.[9][10][11]

This little episode seems to have been the alley's only moment of notability. The city council became aware of its existence only when it was pointed out by the Post Office.[8] Charles F. Danver described it succinctly in January 1942: "No houses. In fact, most difficult to find."[12] Afterward, the alley immediately sank back into obscurity. It does not appear, under any of its names, in the 1947 Bloom's Street Guide.[13] Today it is nothing more than an overgrown hillside with a line of utility poles.

See also


  1. Real Estate Plat-Book of the City of Pittsburgh, vol. 1. G. M. Hopkins & Co., Philadelphia, 1923.; included in the 1923 layer at Pittsburgh Historic Maps ( [view source]hopkins-1923-vol-1
  2. J. F. Diffenbacher. J. F. Diffenbacher's Directory of Pittsburgh & Allegheny Cities for 1882–'83: Embracing a general directory of residences of citizens, full classified business directory, register of public institutions, benevolent societies, and city government; directory of the streets, secret societies, schools and churches, twenty-sixth [sic] annual issue. Diffenbacher & Thurston, Pittsburgh, 1882. Historic Pittsburgh 31735051650889. [view source]diffenbacher-1882
  3. Atlas of the Cities Pittsburgh and Allegheny. G. M. Hopkins & Co., Philadelphia, 1882.; 1882 layer at Pittsburgh Historic Maps ( [view source]hopkins-1882
  4. Atlas of the City of Pittsburgh, vol. 2. G. M. Hopkins & Co., Philadelphia, 1889.; included in the 1890 layer at Pittsburgh Historic Maps ( [view source]hopkins-1889-vol-2
  5. "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
  6. "Nipping Nipponese." Pittsburgh Press, Jan. 21, 1942, p. 8. 149790082. [view source]nipping
  7. "Nippon taboo." Indiana Evening Gazette, Jan. 23, 1942, p. 10. 539876890. [view source]nippon
  8. 8.0 8.1 "Tokay O. K. as new name of Tokio St." Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Jan. 21, 1942, p. 5. 90317572. [view source]tokay
  9. "Berlin Way families are tired of name: Soldiers in army and of industry live there: Urge change to Moran way, honoring oldest resident, a gentle grandmother." Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, July 7, 1942, p. 10. 90013180. [view source]berlin
  10. "Strip declares blitz against its Berlin Way: Residents demand renaming to Moran Way." Pittsburgh Press, July 7, 1942, p. 26. 143400870. [view source]blitz
  11. "An ordinance changing the name of Tokio street, between Perchment street and Calistoga street, to 'Tokay street'; and Japan way, between Harding street and Herron avenue, to 'Joan way.'" Pittsburgh city ordinance, 1942, no. 40. Passed Feb. 2, 1942; approved Feb. 4, 1942. Ordinance Book 52, p. 253. Reported in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Feb. 9, 1942, p. 18 ( 88917378), and Feb. 10, p. 20 ( 88917458). [view source]ordinance-1942-40
  12. Charles F. Danver. Pittsburghesque. Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Jan. 16, 1942, p. 8. 90317419. [view source]danver-1942
  13. 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