Allegheny County Jail

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Allegheny County Jail
City of Pittsburgh Historic Structure
Pittsburgh History and Landmarks Foundation Historic Landmark
The old Allegheny County Jail
Allegheny County Jail is located in Pittsburgh
Allegheny County Jail
Location of the old Allegheny County Jail in Pittsburgh
Location: Ross Street and Fifth Avenue (Downtown), Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA
Coordinates: 40°26′18.87″N 79°59′43.64″W / 40.4385750°N 79.9954556°W / 40.4385750; -79.9954556Coordinates: 40°26′18.87″N 79°59′43.64″W / 40.4385750°N 79.9954556°W / 40.4385750; -79.9954556
Built/Founded: 1886
Architect: H. H. Richardson
City designated: December 26, 1972[1]
PHLF designated: 1968[2]

The old Allegheny County Jail is on the 400 block of Ross Street in downtown Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, part of a complex (along with the Allegheny County Courthouse) designed by H. H. Richardson. Norcross Brothers built the jail between 1884 and 1886, and after Richardson died in 1886 the courthouse was finished that same year under the supervision of Shepley, Rutan and Coolidge. Additions were made 1903–1905 by Frederick J. Osterling.

In 1892 anarchist Alexander Berkman was held here awaiting trial for the attempted murder of industrialist H. C. Frick. In 1902, condemned brothers Jack and Ed Biddle escaped with the aid of the warden's wife. (The 1984 film Mrs. Soffel, based on the incident, includes shots of the exterior.)

The jail was added to the List of City of Pittsburgh historic designations on December 26, 1972.[1]

A new jail opened in spring 1995, and the original jail now houses the Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas Family Division.[3]


"Bridge of Sighs" linking the old jail (at left) to the Allegheny County Courthouse across Ross Street (so called for its similarity to the famous bridge in Venice, Italy). 
The current Allegheny County Jail at 950 Second Avenue in Pittsburgh, PA 


  1. ^ a b "Local Historic Designations". Pittsburgh: Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation. Archived from the original on 21 July 2011. Retrieved 2011-08-11. 
  2. ^ Historic Landmark Plaques 1968-2009. Pittsburgh, PA: Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation. 2010. Archived from the original on 21 July 2011. Retrieved 2011-08-12. 
  3. ^