Ottawa Street

From Pittsburgh Streets
Ottawa Street
Neighborhood Mount Washington
Origin of name Probably the Odawa people
Owen Avenue (until 1881)

This street was originally named Owen Avenue.[1] The name Ottawa Street was established by a city ordinance in 1881.[2]

George T. Fleming says that Ottawa Street is named for a nation or tribe,[3][4] meaning the Odawa people of Michigan and Ontario; Ottawa is a variant spelling. In their language the name is pronounced ota:wa: and may come from the word adawe, meaning "to trade"; the similar word adaawe means "to buy."[5] Annie Clark Miller includes "Ottawa" in a list of "street names of Indian derivation."[6]

On the other hand, Bob Regan includes "Ottawa" in a list of streets named for cities.[7] The name of the capital city of Canada comes from the Ottawa River on which it lies, which in turn is derived from the Odawa people.[8]

It is more likely that the street is named for the Odawa people directly rather than via the Canadian river and city. Perhaps the most famous Odawa in Pittsburgh's history was Pontiac, known for his role in Pontiac's War (1763–1766), which included the siege of Fort Pitt in June and July 1763 (though Pontiac himself was not involved in this siege).


  1. Atlas of the Cities Pittsburgh and Allegheny, plate 27. G. M. Hopkins & Co., Philadelphia, 1882.; 1882 layer at Pittsburgh Historic Maps ( [view source]hopkins-1882
  2. "An ordinance establishing the names of avenues, streets, lanes and alleys of the City of Pittsburgh." Pittsburgh city ordinance, 1881, no. 33. Passed Feb. 28, 1881; approved Mar. 4, 1881. Ordinance Book 5, p. 212. In Municipal Record: Minutes of the proceedings of the Select and Common Councils of the City of Pittsburgh, for the year 1880, pp. 213–234, Herald Printing Co., Pittsburgh, 1881 (Internet Archive pghmunicipalrecord1880). [view source]ordinance-1881-33
  3. George Thornton Fleming. History of Pittsburgh and Environs: From prehistoric days to the beginning of the American Revolution, vol. 1, p. 148. American Historical Society, New York and Chicago, 1922. Google Books 7ctaAAAAYAAJ, ffQMAAAAYAAJ, S88wAQAAMAAJ, tzUafgt-eskC; HathiTrust 011262563; Historic Pittsburgh 01aee9405m; Internet Archive historypittsbur01compgoog, historypittsbur01socigoog, historypittsbur01yorkgoog. [view source]fleming-history
  4. George T. Fleming. "History recalled by street names: Stanwix brings to mind many important happenings in the early days of the Western Pennsylvania settlement." Pittsburgh Gazette Times, Dec. 6, 1914, sec. 2, p. 8. 85907599. [view source]fleming-history-recalled
  5. William Bright. Native American Placenames of the United States, p. 360. University of Oklahoma Press, Norman, 2004, ISBN 978-0-8061-3598-4. [view source]bright
  6. 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. 8. Pittsburgh Chapter Daughters of the American Revolution, 1924. Historic Pittsburgh 00awn8211m; Internet Archive earlylandmarksna00mill. [view source]miller
  7. Bob Regan. The Names of Pittsburgh: How the city, neighborhoods, streets, parks and more got their names, p. 65. The Local History Company, Pittsburgh, 2009, ISBN 978-0-9770429-7-5. [view source]regan
  8. "Ottawa River." Encyclopædia Britannica, Oct. 14, 2019. [view source]britannica-ottawa-river