Pittsburgh’s Lost Chinatown Finally Gets Its Historical Marker

Other new state historical markers in this area will pay tribute to Andy Warhol, Earl “Fatha” Hines and Stan Musial.


In the late 1800s, the area between Second and Third avenues and Ross and Grant streets Downtown was the thriving heart of Pittsburgh’s Chinatown — but you wouldn’t know it these days. 

By the 1920s and ’30s, the newly built Boulevard of the Allies jutted through Chinatown, disrupting the neighborhood. The number of inhabitants dwindled, shops vanished and Chinatown became history. 

Now, after several attempts by the Pittsburgh chapter of the Organization of Chinese Americans, the lost neighborhood is being recognized with a state historical marker from the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission. 

The new marker, selected from 39 applications, will be added to the nearly 2,300 familiar blue signs with gold lettering located along roads throughout Pennsylvania. 

Other new markers to be added around the Pittsburgh region include tributes to iconic artist Andy Warhol, revolutionary African-American jazz pianist Earl “Fatha” Hines, mystery writer Mary Ella Roberts Rinehart, baseball great Stan Musial and the novel “Out of This Furnace” by Braddock native Thomas Bell.

Chinese workers recruited to work at the Beaver Falls Cutlery Factory in the late 1800s to replace white laborers on strike will also be recognized with a marker. 

In fall 2019, Marian Mei-Ling Lien, president of Pittsburgh’s OCA chapter detailed the group’s attempts to gain historical recognition for the city’s lost Chinatown. The group previously applied for a marker three times before successfully securing one of the familiar blue signs. 

“Unlike any other immigrant group that came through Pittsburgh, with the Chinese, you can’t find anything — unless you go digging for it — to show that they really were here,” Lien said. 

Categories: The 412