From Pittsburgh Streets
Changing the Name of Virgin Alley Will Be Pushed

This evening, in Common Council, there will be introduced an ordinance suggesting the change of the name Virgin alley to Oliver avenue, out of respect to the memory of the late Henry W. Oliver, as proposed in The Press of yesterday. The idea seems to have struck a popular chord, and from all sides comes expression of satisfaction that such a neat way of expressing respect for one who did so much for Pittsburg has been found. Prominent men throughout the city have expressed themselves in favor of it.

David P. Black, president of the Real Estate Trust Co. of Pittsburg, yesterday sent the following self-explanatory letter:

Pittsburg, February 26, 1904.

The Pittsburg Press:

Gentlemen— am more than pleased to see in your columns of last evening the suggestion to change the name of Virgin alley to "Oliver Avenue," in honor of the late Henry W. Oliver. No man ever deserved this distinction more than did Mr. Oliver, for he, and he alone, was the man equal to the task of converting a narrow and almost useless alley into a splendid avenue to be enjoyed by Pittsburg millionaire inhabitants for all time to come. The widening of Virgin alley was not a financial enterprise, but a magnificent public benefaction. Some fifteen years ago several of Pittsburg's enterprising business men had under advisement this project, but concluded the enterprise would not pay. Mr. Oliver's keen business sagacity was not long in showing him this to be true, but his great desire to do that which to him stood out as a crying need to the whole city, made him ready and willing to throw his energy and millions of dollars into what he knew would not pay him financially.

To widen a street or alley through the down-town section of the city (though it may look simple at the start) is a task that none but the bravest and most patient will ever live to see accomplished. Mr. Oliver's heroic treatment of the numerous and almost insurmountable obstacles in this case is fresh in our memories.

I believe the naming of this street for Mr. Oliver is as little as the city can do for its great benefactor.

Very truly yours,


George H. Anderson, secretary of the Pittsburg Chamber of Commerce, in discussing the acts of Mr. Oliver in life, gave additional reasons why Pittsburg is indebted greatly to him. Mr. Anderson said:

"Nothing could be more neat or appropriate than this manner of remembering Mr. Oliver, who made it possible to widen Virgin alley and make of it a real thoroughfare. The name Oliver avenue would fit well and be a credit to the thoroughfare, as it is now a credit to the memory of Mr. Oliver. We had no man who did more for the people of Pittsburg than Mr. Oliver, and I think it is right that this thoroughfare should be called Oliver avenue. I favor the term "avenue" rather than street, because it comes in the vicinity of avenues and useless confusion would thereby be averted.

"And the widening of Virgin alley was not all that Mr. Oliver did for the business interests of Pittsburg," continued Mr. Anderson. "I am, happily, able to tell some little unwritten history regarding Mr. Oliver. Without his sturdy work and his battling ability, Pittsburg would probably yet be without slack water advantages. I well remember the fight he made in the Chamber of Commerce to create public sentiment in favor of the Davis Island dam, or rather to turn back sentiment against the dam, which had taken a very firm hold here. Yes, there was bitter opposition to the project of having the government build the dam at Davis Island. It was claimed that it would be a great hindrance to navigation, and the sentiment against it bade fair to drive the people at Washington from their intention to build the dam. Mr. Oliver, with Mr. John H. Ricketson and some others of us, stood out for the dam. Mr. Oliver led the fight, and what a fighter he was! He saw the advantages which would accrue from the slack water and he labored night and day to get the proper spirit working. I can say truthfully and without fear of successful contradiction that Mr. Henry W. Oliver did more to build the dam at Davis Island than did any other man. It was not long until those who opposed the idea came to thank him for having outfought them.

"And now that Virgin alley has been widened and made of decent width, it is but natural that the term "alley" should be cut off. The word implied something out of the way, and I must say that up until Mr. Oliver did such good work that the term was in every way fitted to the passageway. But now things are different. The affix "alley" is no longer apropos and it will hardly do to call it Virgin street or Virgin avenue. It would be a most fitting tribute to the memory of Mr. Oliver to have it named Oliver avenue."

Charles A. Painter, president of the Pittsburg Chamber of Commerce, said: "Nothing would give me greater pleasure than to work for the changing of the name to Oliver avenue from Virgin alley. I have never liked the old name, and now that the place has been widened principally through the efforts of Mr. Oliver it seems nothing more than right that the people of Pittsburg, who have profited, should choose a fitting name for the thoroughfare, and I consider the suggestion Oliver avenue a very good one. I am very much in favor of the change suggested."

John B. Larkin said: "Put me down as very much in favor of having the name of Virgin alley changed to Oliver avenue. There was surely no man who deserved such honor more than did the late Henry W. Oliver, who was a credit to the city in every way."

Senator W. S. Wood said: "Oliver avenue would be a fitting and well-deserved monument to the memory of one who was a friend to Pittsburg."