Survey of South Side Boroughs
By Ed Vidunas, Pittsburgh (South Side) Pa.

This work is not so much a history of a Pittsburgh neighborhood but a general survey of the boroughs, districts and long forgotten places that became to be known as The South Side.

When we think of the South Side we need to think of John Ormsby, for it was his life who

Birmingham, East & West
The Boroughs of Birmingham and East Birmingham can be seen on the Hopkins map of 1872.
The boundary of East Birmingham, west to east, was between Harmony Street (S17th Street) and McClurg Street (S27th Street); and, south to north, between Josephine Street and the Monongahela River.

The boundary of Birmingham was, west to east, between Oliver Street (S6th Street) and Harmony Street (S17th Street); and, south to north, between Manor Street (railroad tracks) and the Monongahela River. As Birmingham had an Oliver Street, so did East Birmingham, which is now S25th Street. The Town of Birmingham, as shown on Hopkins Map of 1876, has the names of early land holders that have streets named after them. Busman, McKee, Ihmsan, Breed and Edwards, just to name a few.

In 1872 the north-south streets were no longer identified by their old names. The two boroughs were laid-out separately is the reason that Sarah Street has the offset at S17th Street. We can see what Birmingham looked like in this 1835 Keyon map.

The Hopkins map of 1872 shows S26th Street as Brown Street, which was also known as Brownstone Street. Directories of Pittsburgh in the 1800’s identified the area along this street as Brownstone, which I don’t think was ever recognized as a borough. At least never shown on a map that I have found. Brownstone took its name from John Brown, a major land owner in the late 1800’s.

Ormsby can be seen on the Hopkins map of 1872. The boundary of Birmingham was, west to east, between McClurg Street (S27th Street); and just beyond S36th Street; and, south to north, between Josephine Street (railroad tracks) and the Monongahela River.

St. Clair Township and Lower St. Clair Township

Identified in Allegheny County’s Hundred Years by Thurston.
The Borough of Birmingham stopped at S17th Street, East of that was became known as East Birmingham was known as Sidneyville. Sidneyville was in Lower St. Clair Township at the time.

South Side’s first glass company
Thurston, in Hundred Years, describes

Sutton Monongahela Whisky

In 1869 the Penn family deeded 350 acres of land to John Ormsby

The Western Boroughs
West of S6th Street sat the boroughs of West Pittsburgh, South Pittsburgh, and Monongahela.

Annexed to Pittsburgh
The Laws of the General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, 1872
Section 1 of No. 699 states: “Be in enacted by the Senate and House of representatives of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania in the general Assembly met, and it is hereby enacted by the authority of the same, That the boroughs of Temperanceville, Union, Allentown, Mount Washington, Birmingham, East Birmingham, Monongahela, Ormsby, South Pittsburgh, St. Clair and West Pittsburgh, are hereby annexed to the city of Pittsburgh and made part thereof”.

85-608/609: 6 July 1849, George Duncan of Borough of Birmingham, Allegheny Co. PA, and Agnes his wife formerly Agness O'Connor daughter and one of the heirs of Dominick O'Connor late of Borough of Birmingham, decd, and Dominick Ihmsen and Phebe Ihmsen of same place grandchildren and heirs of said Dominick O'Connor decd, for $1 paid by Alexander McKibbin of City of Detroit, MI, (and at the special instance and request of David Cunningham formerly intermarried with Cecelia O'Connor daughter of Dominick O'Conner deceased), quit claim to Alexander McKibbin our interest to the lot or piece of ground in the part of the Borough of Birmingham formerly called Sidneyville, Allegheny Co. PA, No.19, being the lot of ground devised to Cecelia O'Connor dau. of Dominick O'Connor decd by his will recorded in Allegheny Co. PA, with appurtenances. /s/ George Duncan, Agnes Duncan, D.H. Ihmsen, Phebe J. Ihmsen. Wit. John McKee. Recorded July 13, 1849. (FHL film 1,497,893; SLC 9/14/2012)


About Ed Vidunas
Ed was born on January 16, 1953 at St. Joseph’s Hospital in the 21st hundred-block of East Carson Street. He lived in the 18 hundred-block of Merriman Way until 1977 when he moved to S11th Street. He was a life-long structural steel draftsman primarily focusing on bridge fabrication and design. To be expected he attended South High School where it was never identified that he excelled in anything. When he cannot be found enjoying a pint of beer on Carson Street he can be found with a pint of ale in London.

This work encompasses the area of land that would be identified to as being between the Smithfield Street Bridge and Beck’s Run Road and between the Monongahela River and the railroad tracks that essentially divide the flats from the slopes.

When clicking a link to a map you should click on the image to manipulate it (zoom and move).

Viewing the maps will be better seen on a larger screen/

Reference (My apologies to Kate Turabian for how I did this.)
Allegheny County’s Hundred Years, George Henry Thurston, A. A. Anderson & Son, book and job printers, 1888.

Allegheny County Pa. Land Records Books 57 to 85. Duncan Research files of Mary Ann (Duncan) Dobson the Genealogy Bug, last revised February 15, 2013.

Hopkins, George W., Philadelphia, Pa. hosted by the University of Pittsburgh Library System, Historic Pittsburgh.

South Pittsburgh Reporter, “Mt. Oliver founder John Ormsby had an interesting past” August 1, 2017.