"Making a joke of street names: Clerks assigned to wipe out duplications choose any old titles: Hippo, Tumbo, Fortitude!: Also Divinity, Sunday, Starch, Parkhurst, Chianti, Wry and Prudence." Pittsburgh Gazette Times, July 28, 1909, p. 2. Newspapers.com 85879633.
Robert A. Clark, assistant city clerk, and Fred H. Miller, a draughtsman in the bureau of surveys, who were designated some months ago by an ordinance of councils to straighten out the duplicate street name tangle of the greater city, have practically completed their task. Three ordinances have been prepared for presentation at the next meeting of councils. One makes 115 changes in the names of streets of the former borough of West Liberty, now embraced in sections of the Eighteenth and Nineteenth wards, that many names having been duplicated in the old city and the North Side. Another ordinance will designate the changes of names for the old city and the North Side, and the third will "establish" all the street names of Greater Pittsburgh. In all 933 changes are made.
Many of the names selected for the streets of the dignified old city have caused amusement to some and consternation to others. They run from one extreme to the other, from the ludicrous to the toploftical. While the Historical society of Western Pennsylvania was given hearings by the committee and many of its name suggestions adopted, there were hundreds of other names that had to be supplied by Clark and Miller, and in doing so they appear to have consulted convenience quite as much as historical significance. Some of the changes, also, are regarded as unique. For instance, the name of Fifth avenue east of the courthouse is to be Washington avenue, but the downtown part will remain Fifth avenue.
Puritanism for North Side.
Perhaps the most notable name changes apply to the four sides of Diamond square, North Side. South Diamond street is to become Fortitude street, North Diamond Temperance street, East Diamond Prudence street and West Diamond Justice street.
Other "high spots" in nomenclature are seen in the following: Hamilton place, North Side, is hereafter to be called Hippo street, and an unnamed thoroughfare in the Twenty-seventh ward, North Side, has been called Tumbo. The christeners, however, did not have courage enough to go as far as Bwana Tumbo.
Pearl street, North Side, has been changed to Parkhurst street, this being another laugh.
There is considerable significance in the new name found for River avenue in the new Eleventh ward. Part of it is an Italian district, and so River avenue has become Chianti street.
Divinity and Sunday Streets.
Some other changes are: Division street, North Side, to Divinity street; Sweeney street, North Side, to Sunday street; Wright street, North Side, to Wry street; Allegheny street, old Twenty-third ward, Alluvian street; Cornell street, old city, to Cornwall; Bluff street, North Side, to Goehring street, in honor of former Senator J. M. Goehring; Chestnut street, old city, to Hooper street, in honor of Councilman M. J. Hooper; Rural avenue, North Side, to Rothpletz, in honor of former Councilman Irvin K. Rothpletz; Ravine street, North Side, to Rialto; Oswego street, South Side, to Starch, and Swatsworth street, old borough of Sheraden, to Symphony. This last is amusing under the circumstances. There was considerable of a fight among the people over what the street should be called, and "Symphony" finally was selected when peace was restored.
If the new plan goes through there will be no numbered streets in the downtown district under Tenth. Ninth street will be known as Anderson street, Seventh as Sandusky, Sixth as Federal, Fifth as Standwix [sic], Fourth as Fancort [sic] and Third as Barbeau, the latter as a tribute to "Jap" Barbeau, who plays third base for the Pittsburgh baseball club.
District Attorney William A. Blakeley also is not forgotten. Branch street, Sixth ward, will become Blakeley street.
Andrew G. Curtin, the war governor, had fared well at the hands of patriots in this section, streets having been named for him by both the old city and the North Side. By the change, however, the North Side loses its Curtin street.
How streets get their names originally is interesting. The job is usually entrusted to the bureau of surveys. The city must have a record of all the thoroughfares, and the bureau of surveys does not stand for one going long without a name. It is necessary for the record. Only occasionally are the streets named by the people of the community. The city officials in charge of the street naming get a collection of directories from other cities, and whenever a new thoroughfare is ready for christening they can easily get a name for it.
City Controller E. S. Morrow said yesterday that the new names should not go into effect until about September of next year, as their use sooner would cause many complications. Many of the voters are now registered as living in streets that have undergone changes of name, and the latest issue of the city directory also has all the old names.
Criticism by a D. A. R.
"I don't think it's wise to name any street after a living person," said Mrs. Samuel A. Ammon, former regent of the Pittsburgh chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution, last night. "I think Robert Clark, deputy city clerk, has made a mistake in changing some of the names of 933 city streets, but we are glad he has adopted our suggestion to name Fifth avenue above Ross street Washington avenue. To rename Sixth street Federal street also was our suggestion, but we wished Seventh street named Stanwix street, after an English general in command at Fort Pitt before the revolutionary war. We are disappointed that Market street will not also be called Federal street. The Daughters of the American Revolution feel that we have suggested better names for the down town streets than Mr. Clark has proposed. As Highland avenue was named after an early settler named Hiland we wouldn't want it changed to Bigelow avenue, after a living man."Why not use historical characters that mean something to the city? We wished Tenth street changed to Wayne; Ninth street to Hand, Eighth street to Hancock, Seventh street to Stanwix, Sixth street to Federal, Fifth street to Pitt and Fourth street to Marbury. Those were the original names. We didn't suggest changing Beechwood boulevard to William Pitt boulevard, and we don't approve of the new names, Temperance, Justice, Fortitude and Prudence, given to the Diamond streets. The matter likely will be taken up again by Miss Julia M. Harding, chairman of the committee in charge of suggesting new street names, of the local chapter, D. A. R."