Market Square (Pittsburgh)

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Market Square
File:Market Square Pittsburgh.JPG
Market Square
Location Market Square in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA
Built/founded 1890s
City designated December 28, 1992[1]
PHLF designated 2009

Pittsburgh's Market Square is a public space located in Downtown Pittsburgh at the intersection of Forbes Avenue (originally named Diamond Way in colonial times) and Market Street. The square was home to the first courthouse, first jail (both in 1795) and the first newspaper (1786) west of the Atlantic Plain, the Pittsburgh Gazette. A public/private modernization in the late 2000s has re-established the square as a social and cultural hub.[2] A great number of restaurants, ranging from fast casual to fine dining, cafes and retailers occupy ground level buildings immediately facing the square, while housing units and offices occupy upper levels.[3]


John Campbell and Thomas Vickroy, while creating the city block plan for streets in Pittsburgh's core, created Market Square in 1764. It was known originally as "Diamond Square" or "Diamond Market" for the Scotch-Irish idiom "Diamond" representing a public commons or square.[4]

Seat of government

By the mid-1790s, the first Allegheny County Courthouse was constructed in Market Square,[4] It was occupied until 1836 when construction completed on a Grant Street complex several blocks away.

On December 7, 1791, the United States District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania gaveled in its very first session at the square.[5]

On July 8, 1794, the newly formed "borough" of Pittsburgh established a "Public Market House and Stalls" on the eastern half of the square. It also was the site of the original city hall for the borough and then city of Pittsburgh until May 22, 1872 when the second city hall opened at Oliver and Smithfield. The Courthouse was abandoned at the square in 1836 after the completion of a new county seat, and sold to private interests at auction on August 11, 1841.[6]

Presbyterian Convention

On May 26, 1858 the city hall/courthouse was the host of the conference of Presbyterians that led to the merger forming the United Presbyterian Church of North America.

20th Century

Nicholas Coffee Co. located in Market Square

Throughout the 19th and 20th centuries, Market Square provided a central location in the city, hosting much social and economic activity.[7] By the mid-1970s, however, Market Square was in a state of decline resulting from increased traffic, crime and business closures. Preservationists and the city of Pittsburgh designated the area a historic landmark in an attempt to retain the square's crumbling architecture and style.[7]

21st Century

Major renovation work began in August 2009 to transform the square into a European-style piazza, completely reopening in late 2010.[8] All vehicle traffic was diverted around the square to increase pedestrian-friendliness, and more outdoor seating was provided.[9] Nearby, new apartments, condominiums and office space with ground-level retail have been fitted into historic buildings.[10] Renovations accelerated growth of Market Square, and numerous restaurants opened in 2011, further increasing social activity within the square.[11]

See also


  1. "Market Square City Designated Historic District" (PDF). City of Pittsburgh Historic Review Commission. Retrieved 2010-01-06.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. Market Square Informational Website, published by the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership. Accessed 7 February 2012.
  3. Market Square Attractions, published by the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership. Retrieved 7 February 2012.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Market Square History, published by Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership with content from Pittsburgh History and Landmarks Foundation. Retrieved 7 February 2012.
  5. The United States District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania History. Retrieved 7 February 2012.
  6. Information obtained from legal proceeding involving Market Square, filed 2 October 1950. Retrieved via internet 7 February 2012.
  7. 7.0 7.1 Smith, Brady; HJ Heinz History Center (8 December 2011). "Let's Learn From the Past: Market Square". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Pittsburgh. Retrieved 7 February 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. Boren, Jeremy (25 August 2010). "Market Square reopens; businesses eager for patrons". Pittsburgh Tribune Review. Pittsburgh. Retrieved 7 February 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  11. "On the Menu: A humming dining scene gave Pittsburghers lots of great new tastes in 2011". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

External links

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