Perrysville Avenue

From Pittsburgh Streets
Perrysville Avenue
Neighborhoods Central Northside, Perry North, Perry South
Origin of name Perrysville, Pennsylvania
Franklin Road (until 1851)
Origin of name Fort Franklin, today Franklin, Pennsylvania
Perrysville Plank Road (1851–1891)
Origin of name Perrysville, Pennsylvania

The northern part of Perrysville Avenue (past the Federal Street Extension) follows the route of the old Franklin Road,[1][2] which led to Fort Franklin, today the city of Franklin, Pennsylvania, via Perrysville and Butler.[3][4]

The Perrysville Plank Road (or, in full, the Allegheny City and Perrysville Plank Road) was built in the early 1850s. The road led from Allegheny City north to the village of Perrysville, a distance of eight miles.[5] A company was incorporated on February 27, 1849, to build and operate the road.[6] The wooden planks for the road were ready in October 1850,[7] and construction was completed on June 1, 1851, at a total cost of about $30,000.[5] At its southern end, the road curved around the hill later called Observatory Hill instead of following the route of Franklin Road (modern Federal Street Extension). Some claimed that the road had been made long and winding so that higher tolls could be collected.[8]

A lawyer named Thomas M. Marshall (for whom Marshall Avenue is named) regularly traveled along the Perrysville Plank Road to go to Pittsburgh. One day Marshall, fed up with the poor quality of the road, refused to pay the toll and cut down the toll gate with an ax so that he could pass. He got away with this bit of vandalism because the road company was afraid to sue him, for fear that he would countersue them for failure to uphold their charter, which required them to keep the road in good repair.[8]

The road appears in the 1851 map of Sidney & Neff and S. McRea[9] and in the 1852 map of R. E. McGowin.[10]

The portion of the Perrysville Plank Road within the city limits of Allegheny was condemned by the city in 1891 in order to abolish the tolls on a major route leading into and out of the city.[11][12][2] The road was also widened, and about this time it began to be called Perrysville Avenue.[12] The improvements to the avenue, including grading and paving, were finished in 1894, but legal challenges relating to the question of who should bear the costs dragged on for years.[2][13]


  1. E. H. Heastings. Map of the County of Allegheny, Pennsylvania. 1850. Historic Pittsburgh DARMAP0090. [view source]heastings
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 "The city must pay: Decision in the Federal street improvement: Present ordinance is null: The foot-front rule of assessment is not legal: The street can be paved: But the costs must be assessed according to benefits: Findings made by the court." Pittsburg Press, July 21, 1894, p. 1. 141538432. [view source]city-must-pay
  3. "Old state body laid out town of Allegheny: Executive council in 1788 fixed lot prices and furnished names for streets and alleys: Origin of the present parks." Pittsburg Press, Dec. 1, 1907, p. 32. 142120163. [view source]old-state-body
  4. 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
  5. 5.0 5.1 "Allegheny City and Perrysville Plank Road." Daily Morning Post (Pittsburgh), Oct. 29, 1851, [p. 2]. 86643079. [view source]perrysville-plank-road
  6. Charles W. Dahlinger. "Old Allegheny." Western Pennsylvania Historical Magazine, vol. 1, no. 4, Oct. 1918, pp. 161–223. Internet Archive westernpennsylva01histuoft; [view source]dahlinger-allegheny
  7. Local Matters. Daily Morning Post (Pittsburgh), Oct. 11, 1850, [p. 2]. 86642311. [view source]local-matters-1850-10-11
  8. 8.0 8.1 Leland D. Baldwin. Pittsburgh: The story of a city, pp. 188–189. University of Pittsburgh Press, Pittsburgh, 1937. HathiTrust 001263101. [view source]baldwin
  9. Sidney & Neff and S. McRea. Map of Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, with the Names of Property-Holders. Philadelphia, 1851. LCCN 2012592150. [view source]sidney-neff
  10. 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
  11. "An old project revived: The purchase of the plank roads in Allegheny limits." Pittsburg Press, May 11, 1890, [p. 4]. 141349174. [view source]old-project
  12. 12.0 12.1 "Allegheny outlets: Important meeting of the canal committee: Proposition to purchase and widen Perrysville avenue—advantages to be secured." Pittsburg Press, Sept. 29, 1890, p. 1. 141348456. [view source]allegheny-outlets
  13. "Men and women enter protests: Perrysville avenue property owners do not like viewers' report: Think benefits too high: Citizens will hold a meeting in Lithgow school: Will agree upon some plan of procedure—total amount due the city is $255,513.84: damages small." Pittsburg Post, Jan. 25, 1900, p. 2. 86435383. [view source]men-and-women