Lawrenceville Borough (1834-1868)

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By Tom Powers

These days, not many Pittsburghers realize that once upon a time Lawrenceville was an independent borough outside Pittsburgh’s city limits. I had never seen the drawn boundaries of Lawrenceville Borough until I attended a lecture in the Heinz History Center’s Detre Library about an 1859 panoramic map of Pittsburgh.

Lawrenceville Borough was formed out of Peebles Township in 1834. Peebles had been erected a year prior to that out of Pitt Township. Collins Township was formed out of Peebles in 1850. Collins, Lawrenceville, Pitt, and Peebles were all consolidated into the City of Pittsburgh in 1868.

On display were several other maps including an 1862 map of Allegheny County from which the map on this page is taken. On this map, the borders of Lawrenceville Borough were clearly defined.

Our LHS collection includes a copy of the laws and ordinances of the borough from 1834 to 1863. Among the ordinances are the boundaries of the borough at its later expansions. Unfortunately, the description of the borders in the ordinances includes some landmarks that are long gone, for instance:

… west one hundred and twenty-five and three fourth poles*, (crossing Covington street at forty-three and three fourth poles, and Pike street at eighty-five and one fourth poles) to a post; thence south forty-one degrees, west ninety-eight poles, to a large button wood tree, (a well known land mark) on the bank of the Two Mile Run… (Laws of the Borough of Lawrenceville).

* A pole equals sixteen and a half feet.

Well, that large buttonwood tree is long gone, and Two Mile Run has been piped underground. These survey points are of little use in trying to recreate Lawrenceville Borough boundaries, so it was a stroke of good fortune that a contemporary (1862) cartographer was able to draw up…  For more, see original post…