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Outdoor cafes, A New Orleans-inspired restaurant. Authentic Mexican fare with recipes from mama’s kitchen and tantalizing tequila drinks. Pittsburgh’s oldest bar and restaurant, pastries, coffees, boutiques and home accessories. No wonder Market Square is such a must-visit Downtown Destination.




Historic Lighting – Underground Railroad

Historically, Market Square area has always been a hub for commercial and social activity in Pittsburgh, a place where all levels of society came together.

Pittsburgh was a socially progressive city with a strong antislavery movement. The stories of America’s struggle with slavery are woven through our Downtown. On Third Avenue you can see the historic market noting the site of the office where Martin Delaney published The Mystery, the City’s first abolitionist newspaper. Third Avenue, between Market Street and Ferry Street (no longer exists, between Market & Stanwix) was the site of John B. Vashon’s bath house. Pittsburgh’s first bath house catered to wealthy white patrons in the day and assisted runaway slaves at night, sometimes giving them employment in that very establishment. There is evidence that right on Market Square, James McMasters and his Black Bear Hotel played an active role as a stop on the Underground Railroad.

The symbol of the North Star was chosen to honor this important part of Pittsburgh’s history. A common symbol at the time to express the struggle for freedom, it was the name of Frederick Douglas’ abolitionist newspaper that Martin Delaney collaborated on.

The lights in the ground are aligned as the stars would have been seen in the heavens on June 2, 1835 at 8 p.m., the first recorded meeting date of the Pittsburgh Antislavery Society.

To explore Downtown's antislavery history, sign up for a tour. The Historic Hill Institute offers two different tours; their "Underground Railroad Tour" and "The Freedom Struggle Tour," which cover sites of the Underground Railroad through the modern day Civil Rights movement.

Special thanks to: Dr. Laurence Glasco, University of Pittsburgh, Department of History; John Ford, Historian and Curator of Artifacts and Documents; Dr. Kimberly Ellis, Historic Hill Institute, Executive Director; Terri Blanchette, Heinz History Center, Director of Community Programs; Bomani Howze, instrumental in assembling the team of researchers; Virginia O’Connor, a private citizen who began the investigation by sharing family history.

Historic Image courtesy of Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Hall and Museum


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