How the Mexican War Street got its name

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In Pittsburgh, there is a community named after the war.

Nestled between Central Allegheny, Manchester and East Allegheny, there is a historic neighborhood with an unusual name: Mexican War Street.

good question! The asker Jeffrey Koscinski wanted to learn more about the community.

“I’ve always wondered why it’s called that,” says Koscinski (yes, he’s the father of WESA reporter Kiley Koscinski).

Asker Nathan Bell had a similar question: “The name stood out to me because I wanted to know which Mexican war it was referring to, since Pittsburgh was geographically directly involved in the war with Mexico.”

Bell was right — Pittsburgh wasn’t a battlefield during the Mexican-American War. But the city did play a role in the conflict.


In 1845, the United States annexed Texas from Spain. Mexicans were upset because they thought it was part of their land. The following year, Mexican soldiers waged a war with Americans living in Texas, said Michael Krause, director of the Soldiers and Sailors Memorial and Museum. The U.S. government responded by sending troops to the border, including those from the Pittsburgh area.

“The President called on the states to provide volunteers, and Pennsylvania provided two regiments, the first of the Pennsylvania 2nd Infantry Regiment, both of which had companies from Pittsburgh

The regiments actually went to war from Pittsburgh, taking the river to New Orleans and then to the strategic battlefield. Once they arrived, they encountered conditions that were fairly common in combat in the mid-1800s.

“It’s like ‘Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots,'” Krause said. “I mean, you’re talking about front-loading weapons, you know, effective range is no more than 100 to 200 yards. So if you’re an infantry or infantry, then how close you’re going to have to keep to the enemy .”

Cavalry units fought on horseback. The cannon, which could fire about a mile away, was the key weapon. Krause said the Americans were focused on capturing the Mexican fort.

Mexican War Street Civil War Costume

Katie Blakely

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90.5 WESA

The uniforms worn by Pittsburgh soldiers during the Civil War were very similar to those worn during the Mexican-American War, according to Michael Krause, director of the Soldiers and Sailors Memorial and Museum.

“A lot of times, the strategy for disabling that fortification is to surround it and isolate it from everything else,” he said.

Despite the large numbers of Mexican fighters, American troops prevailed, and the conflict ended two years later in 1848.

“It’s a very short war, but we’re fighting an international war beyond our borders, [it’s] Kind of like the beginning of colonialism. “

Around the same time, in what was then Allegheny, people began to settle in a new community. Former Allegheny Mayor William Robinson bought land on the North Side and is building and naming streets, Krause said.

“What better tribute than to name it after what happened at the time?” Krause said.

Star Joint Bolt Tie Rod Building Pittsburgh Brick House Mexican War Street (6).jpeg

Katie Blakely

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90.5 WESA

Mural on Resaca Street near War Street in Mexico.

Robinson named the streets of Monterey, Palo Alto and Ressaca after major battles in the war. After President Zachary Taylor is Taylor Avenue, and after Captain John Fremont is Fremont Street.

Many of the community’s early inhabitants were reportedly blacksmiths, tanners and traders. Mexican War Street Association Vice President of Brittany Urban. There’s also farmland, and some street names are a nod to the industry.

“You have the Drovers Way,” Urban said. “A cattle driver is a cattle driver.”

These early families moved into humble homes. Over time, as the city of Allegheny and Pittsburgh grew, so did the wealth of its residents. In the late 1800’s and early 1900’s, they were able to extend some of the original structures into the community today. Allegheny was annexed by Pittsburgh in 1907.

“People here want to keep their city,” Urban said. “It actually goes all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, which finally decides [Pittsburgh] May take over the area. “

The community struggled in the 1970s and 80s, dealing with blight and crime. But cultural organizations took notice, and opened venues like The Mattress Factory, Randyland, and the Writer’s Refugee Space Sanctuary.

“Over time, thankfully, this area has become attractive to people who can see its potential and beauty and decide to work hard to preserve it and turn it into something truly beautiful and useful,” Urban said.

Mexican War Street became a designated Historic District in 1975, which Urban said meant there were certain guidelines for updating or renovating homes.

“It’s about keeping our community unique,” she said. “We’re trying to prevent buildings from being demolished and big developments.”

There are a lot of quirks here too. A few years ago, two Venezuelan artists installed brightly colored text on windows, gates and doors. The project is called “River of Words,” and every project is related to Pittsburgh in some way…zombies, baseball, atlas.

Installations are supposed to be temporary, but many residents love them so much they stick with them! While the neighborhood’s name might suggest something aggressive, the people here are anything but.

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