Webster Avenue

From Pittsburgh Streets
Webster Avenue
Neighborhoods Bedford Dwellings, Crawford-Roberts, Middle Hill, Upper Hill
Origin of name Daniel Webster
Coal Lane (1810s – ca. 1847)
Origin of name Coal pits on Grant's Hill
Coal Road (until ca. 1847)
Origin of name Coal pits on Grant's Hill
Webster Street (ca. 1847 – 1868)
Origin of name Daniel Webster

George Woods' 1784 plat of the farms and out lots of Pittsburgh shows a road leading east-northeast from Grant Street, making a 90-degree turn to the south-southeast, and meeting the "Road leading to 4th St." (today Fifth Avenue).[1] That road seems to correspond to the modern downtown end of Bigelow Boulevard and Washington Place.

In the 1830 map of Jean Barbeau and Lewis Keyon, the east-northeast part of this road is labeled Coal Lane. It extended to about modern Crawford Street, where there was a bend. Beyond the bend the road continued as Coal Road, making a 90-degree turn to the south-southeast at modern Roberts Street.[2] The name was in use at least as early as 1819: in their city directory of that year, James M. Riddle and M. M. Murray include "Coal lane, from Grant st. on the top of Grant's Hill, towards the Coal pits."[3]

Captain George Atkinson, reminiscing in 1895 about the early days of Pittsburgh, said, "The city's supply of coal was mostly hauled into town by wagons, the river for some reason being neglected to a great extent as a means of transporting the local fuel supply. Long strings of teams, attached to heavy wagons loaded with coal, could be seen coming down 'Coal lane' any day. The supply came into town over what is now Seventh avenue, and 'Coal lane' is now Webster street."[4]

The 1845 map of R. E. McGowin includes Coal [Lane],[5] but his map of 1852 shows that it had been renamed Webster Street.[6] In 1847, the Pittsburgh Daily Morning Post mentioned "Coal lane, dubbed by the whig council 'Webster street,'"[7] which indicates that the street was named for Daniel Webster (1782–1852), a prominent Whig leader of the time, representing Massachusetts in the United States Senate.

Webster Street was renamed Webster Avenue in 1868.[8]

In 1923, Annie Clark Miller wrote, "The street names Liberty, Union, Congress, Federal, Penn and Webster are reminiscent of the patriotic spirit of the early times."[9]

Bruce J. Buvinger associates Coal Lane with Webster Avenue but Coal Road with Wylie Avenue.[10] However, the map of Barbeau and Keyon shows that Coal Lane and Coal Road were in the same straight line,[2] the line of modern Webster Avenue, so Buvinger seems to be slightly in error here. Bob Regan copied several parts of Buvinger verbatim in his book (unfortunately without attribution), including this error.[11]

See also

  • Coal Street, for other streets that have been named "Coal"


  1. George Woods. A General Draught of the Farms and Out Lots in the Manor of Pittsburgh, Situate Between the Alleghany and Monongahela Rivers, Laid Out by Order of Tench, Fransis, Esqr. Attorney for John Penn, Jr, and John Penn. 1784. Reproduced in plate 17 of Atlas of the Cities of Pittsburgh, Allegheny, and the Adjoining Boroughs, G. M. Hopkins & Co., Philadelphia, 1872 (Historic Pittsburgh 1872p017). [view source]woods-farms
  2. 2.0 2.1 Jean Barbeau and Lewis Keyon. Map of Pittsburgh and Its Environs. N. B. Molineux, Pittsburgh, 1830. Historic Pittsburgh DARMAP0576; https://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/36c3ab00-57aa-0136-8f4f-08990f217bc9. [view source]barbeau
  3. James M. Riddle and M. M. Murray. The Pittsburgh Directory for 1819: Containing the names, professons [sic], and residence of all the heads of families, and persons in business, in the city of Pittsburgh, and its suburbs; and a variety of other useful information. Butler & Lambdin, Pittsburgh, 1819. Internet Archive pittsburghdirect00murr. [view source]riddle-murray
  4. "Years bring changes: Captain Atkinson's recollection of the river fifty years ago: Skiffs as market wagons: Pace hardly kept with other city improvements: The famous old horse ferry." Pittsburg Post, May 27, 1895, p. 8. Newspapers.com 86414199. [view source]years-bring-changes
  5. R. E. M'Gowan. Map of Pittsburgh & Vicinity: Designating the portion destroyed by fire, April 10, 1845. J. W. Cook, Pittsburgh, 1845. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Pittsburgh_map_1845.jpg. Published in the front matter of J. Heron Foster, A Full Account of the Great Fire at Pittsburgh, on the Tenth Day of April, 1845: With the individual losses, and contributions for relief, J. W. Cook, Pittsburgh, 1845 (Internet Archive fullaccountofgre00fost) and of O. Ormsby Gregg, Isaac Gregg, and Moses F. Eaton, Pittsburgh, Her Advantageous Position and Great Resources, as a Manufacturing and Commercial City, Embraced in a Notice of Sale of Real Estate, Johnson & Stockton, Pittsburgh, 1845 (Google Books nrJs-DDEN1sC; Historic Pittsburgh 00afu7810m). [view source]mcgowin-1845
  6. 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. https://collections.lib.uwm.edu/digital/collection/agdm/id/32269/. [view source]mcgowin-1852
  7. "Democratic meetings." Daily Morning Post (Pittsburgh), June 25, 1847, [p. 2]. Newspapers.com 88169499. [view source]democratic-meetings
  8. "An ordinance changing the names of streets." Pittsburgh city ordinance, 1868. Passed Aug. 31, 1868. In The Municipal Record: Containing the proceedings of the Select and Common Councils of the City of Pittsburgh: 1868, Pittsburgh Daily Commercial, Pittsburgh (Internet Archive pghmunicipalrecord1868_20200904_2014). Reprinted in the Pittsburgh Gazette, Sept. 2, 1868, p. 5 (Newspapers.com 86347563), Sept. 3, p. 3 (Newspapers.com 86347623), and Sept. 4, p. 3 (Newspapers.com 86347714). [view source]ordinance-1868-name-changes
  9. Annie Clark Miller. Early Land Marks and Names of Old Pittsburgh: An address delivered before the Pittsburgh Chapter Daughters of the American Revolution at Carnegie Institute, Nov. 30, 1923, p. 23. Pittsburgh Chapter Daughters of the American Revolution, 1924. Historic Pittsburgh 00awn8211m; Internet Archive earlylandmarksna00mill. [view source]miller
  10. Bruce J. Buvinger. The Origin, Development and Persistence of Street Patterns in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, p. 23. Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, Main (Oakland) branch, Pennsylvania Department, call number rq F159.P675 B84 1976x. [view source]buvinger
  11. Bob Regan. The Names of Pittsburgh: How the city, neighborhoods, streets, parks and more got their names, p. 59. The Local History Company, Pittsburgh, 2009, ISBN 978-0-9770429-7-5. [view source]regan