Shakespeare Street

From Pittsburgh Streets
Shakespeare Street
Neighborhood Shadyside
Origin of name Shakespeare Hotel and Gardens

Shakespeare Street was located south of and parallel to Penn Avenue, mostly east of Shady Avenue.[1][2] It was named for the Shakespeare Hotel and Gardens that once occupied a site near the intersection of Penn and Shady Avenues.[1][3][4]

The history of the hotel and gardens goes back to 1837, when Isaac Harris's business directory listed James Wilson as the proprietor of both the Shakspeare [sic] House downtown and "pleasure gardens" in East Liberty.[5][4] The Shakspeare House was "elegantly and splendidly fitted up, for Public Entertainment and general accommodation."[6] Patricia Lowry hypothesizes that the name of this hotel—which, of course, is that of William Shakespeare (1564–1616), English playwright and poet—may have been intended to appeal to traveling actors, and that the name of the gardens in East Liberty was simply taken from the hotel downtown.[4] The gardens appear also to have had an inn around this time; by 1844 Eliza McDonald had taken possession and advertised that the gardens and "her house" were open for the accommodation of visitors.[7] By 1847, under the management of Sam McClelland, the inn had been renamed the Shakespeare Hotel.[4]

The Shakespeare Gardens were probably not a Shakespeare garden as that term is used today, that is, a garden planted with flowers and plants named in Shakespeare's plays.[4] The gardens in East Liberty predate the earliest such gardens by decades.

Henry Landwehr, who was born in Bavaria and owned a restaurant in the Diamond downtown (today Market Square), became the owner of the Shakespeare Hotel and Gardens by 1850.[4] He remained the owner until his death in 1880.[4] Shakespeare Street, Landwehr Street, and a street that later became Aurelia Street were laid out through Landwehr's property by 1872.[1][4]

In 1888, the old tavern building was converted to the first Shakespeare School, named for the tavern.[3][4][8] A new Shakespeare School, designed by Thomas D. Evans in the Richardsonian Romanesque style, was built in 1893;[3][4][8] this school remained until it was demolished in 1956.[4] The land became commercial: a Loblaw's supermarket opened in 1958,[3][4] and the site later became the Shady Hill shopping center with a Giant Eagle grocery store.[3][4] Giant Eagle's address, 6320 Shakespeare Street, was perhaps the last remnant of the street.[4]

Bob Regan includes "Shakespeare" in a list of streets named for noted historical people.[9] Of course William Shakespeare is the ultimate origin of the name, but the evidence is clear that the street was named for the Shakespeare Hotel and Gardens, not directly for the playwright.


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Atlas of the Cities of Pittsburgh, Allegheny, and the Adjoining Boroughs, p. 63. G. M. Hopkins & Co., Philadelphia, 1872.; 1872 layer at Pittsburgh Historic Maps ( [view source]hopkins-1872
  2. Alexander Gross. Pittsburgh and Vicinity: Featuring transit lines and house numbers. Geographia Map Co. Inc., New York, 1953. Published with Alexander Gross, The Complete Street Guide to Pittsburgh and 16 Nearby Suburbs: With large map of Pittsburgh and suburbs; streets, house numbers, transportation lines, places of interest, churches, etc., etc., Geographia Map Co. Inc., New York, 1953 ( PghStreets1953M). A slightly different version entitled The Premier Map of Pittsburgh and Vicinity is reproduced in Sam Stephenson, ed., Dream Street: W. Eugene Smith's Pittsburgh project, pp. 22–23, University of Chicago Press, Chicago and London, 2023, ISBN 978-0-226-82483-3 (LCCN 2022055151). [view source]gross-map
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 Patricia Lowry. "Shakespeare in East Liberty: Supermarket site once held a garden filled with blossoms mentioned by the bard." Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Apr. 28, 1996, Sunday Magazine, p. G-4. 91761343. [view source]lowry-shakespeare-1996
  4. 4.00 4.01 4.02 4.03 4.04 4.05 4.06 4.07 4.08 4.09 4.10 4.11 4.12 4.13 Patricia Lowry. "Shakespeare in East Liberty." The East Ender, spring 2020, pp. 1–6. [view source]lowry-shakespeare-2020
  5. Isaac Harris. Harris' Pittsburgh Business Directory, for the Year 1837: Including the names of all the merchants, manufacturers, mechanics, professional [sic], & men of business of Pittsburgh and its vicinity. Isaac Harris, Pittsburgh, 1837, p. 88. PGH1837_BDM; Historic Pittsburgh 00afv6656m, 31735056287505. [view source]harris
  6. "Shakspeare House." Daily Pittsburgh Gazette, Apr. 28, 1836, [p. 2]. 96052060. [view source]shakspeare-house
  7. Eliza McDonald. "Shakspeare Gardens." Pittsburgh Morning Post, May 4, 1844, [p. 2]. 86483601. [view source]shakspeare-gardens
  8. 8.0 8.1 John Fulton Stuart Collins, Jr. "Stringtown on the Pike": Tales and history of East Liberty and the East Liberty Valley of Pennsylvania: Its origin, early struggles and the people who shaped its destiny, past and present, together with related stories of old "Pittsburg" coincident with the settlement of "Stringtown," pp. 145–146. East Liberty Chamber of Commerce, Pittsburgh. LCCN 65027412. [view source]stringtown
  9. Bob Regan. The Names of Pittsburgh: How the city, neighborhoods, streets, parks and more got their names, p. 63. The Local History Company, Pittsburgh, 2009, ISBN 978-0-9770429-7-5. [view source]regan