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 1869)
Origin of name Coal railroad built down the center of the street
21st Street (1869–1881)
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][4] This was a coal railroad for the Ormsby mine, built in 1838.[5]

The street was renamed 21st Street by an East Birmingham borough ordinance in 1869.[6] 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. S. N. & F. W. Beers. Map of Allegheny Co., Pennsylvania. Smith, Gallup & Hewitt, Philadelphia, 1862. LCCN 2012592151; 1862 layer at Pittsburgh Historic Maps ( [view source]beers
  4. 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
  5. 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
  6. "An ordinance for changing the name of certain streets of the Borough of East Birmingham." East Birmingham borough ordinance, 1869. Approved Mar. 13, 1869. In Ordinance book of the Borough of East Birmingham, 1849–1872 ( [view source]ordinance-1869-east-birmingham
  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 (Internet Archive pghmunicipalrecord1880). [view source]ordinance-1881-33