Welcome to the Neighborhood
Located on Pittsburgh’s North Side, in the heart of the former City of Allegheny, the Mexican War Streets is designated both federally and by the City of Pittsburgh as a historic Victorian-era district. In 1848 General William Robinson, Jr. (later Mayor of Allegheny) plotted out the Mexican War Streets immediately following his return from the Mexican-American War, which annexed Texas and California. With patriotic fervor, he named the streets after the war’s battles (Buena Vista. Monterey. Resaca, Palo Alto) and military leaders (Taylor, Sherman, Jackson).
The area was originally used as ‘out-lots’ to stable horses and raise pigs, chickens and cows. Along with the deeds to their property, homeowners acquired grazing rights in Allegheny Commons. Structures built in the alleys, as tenant homes for the people who maintained the livestock, were the first houses in the neighborhood. The Civil War slowed development of the neighborhood, but construction resumed soon after, and by the late 1800’s, the Mexican War Streets district looked much as it does today.
Without cars or refrigeration, the things that residents needed for everyday life were only a short walk from home: grocery stores on nearly every block, a dairy at 1226 Palo Alto, pharmacies at 1500 Buena Vista and 1412 Monterey, a doctor at 1239 Monterey, a firehouse on Arch Street, and a police station at the corner of Buena Vista and Taylor. But by the 1920’s, many War Streets residents followed the national trend and began migrating to the more fashionable suburbs, now made accessible by the advent of automobiles. As a result, over the intervening decades, single-family homes were divided into rooming houses and apartments, and the neighborhood deteriorated.
The decline was so pervasive by the late 1960’s that urban planners had slated the neighborhood for demolition. As a reaction to the demolition plan, the individual residents, organizations such as Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation and the Mexican War Streets Society united and refused to let the neighborhood become rubble. Through their successful efforts the Mexican War Streets continues to thrive today.