South 21st Street

From Pittsburgh Streets
South 21st Street
Neighborhoods South Side Flats, South Side Slopes
Origin of name Sequential numbering up the Monongahela River
Ormsby Street
Origin of name Family of John Ormsby
Rail Road Street (until ca. 1870)
Origin of name Coal railroad built down the center of the street
21st Street (ca. 1870 – 1881)
Origin of name Sequential numbering up the Monongahela River

Ken McFarland says that South 21st Street was formerly named Ormsby Street, after the family of John Ormsby (1720–1805), who once owned most of the land that is now the South Side.[1] Today Ormsby Street is a different street, in Mount Oliver and St. Clair; see that entry for more about the Ormsbys.

By 1852, the street was called Rail Road Street, named for a railroad that went down the middle of the street.[2][3] This was a coal railroad for the Ormsby mine, built in 1838.[4]

The street was renamed 21st Street by 1871.[5] The Birmingham borough council had numbered their streets from Sixth to Seventeenth in 1869,[6] and although this action did not directly apply to the streets in East Birmingham, they were apparently numbered about the same time. The "South" prefix was added by a Pittsburgh city ordinance in 1881;[7] see South First Street for more details.

See also


  1. Ken McFarland. "What's in a name?" Western Pennsylvania Historical Magazine, vol. 68, no. 3, July 1985, p. 276. [view source]mcfarland
  2. 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
  3. Atlas of the Cities of Pittsburgh, Allegheny, and the Adjoining Boroughs, p. 105. G. M. Hopkins & Co., Philadelphia, 1872.; 1872 layer at Pittsburgh Historic Maps ( [view source]hopkins-1872
  4. J. Sutton Wall. Report on the Coal Mines of the Monongahela River Region, from the West-Virginia State Line to Pittsburgh, Including the Mines on the Lower Youghiogheny River, part I, "Description of the mines", p. 175. Second Geological Survey of Pennsylvania, report of progress K4. Board of Commissioners for the Second Geological Survey, Harrisburg, 1884. Google Books ip0MAAAAYAAJ; Historic Pittsburgh 00agl8298m; Internet Archive bub_gb_qBQgRge4JF0C, reportoncoalmin00wallgoog, reportoncoalmine00wall. [view source]wall
  5. H. Boone. Directory of Pittsburgh & Allegheny Cities, the Adjacent Boroughs, and Parts of the Adjacent Townships, for 1871–72. Geo. H. Thurston, Pittsburgh, 1871, p. 41. Historic Pittsburgh 31735033431283. [view source]boone-1871
  6. "Birmingham Council." Daily Post (Pittsburgh), Mar. 3, 1869, [p. 1]. 86522458. [view source]birmingham-council
  7. "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