Pi Alley

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Pi Alley
WilliamsCourt Boston Thwing.png
Pi Alley in 1920
Pi Alley is located in Boston
Pi Alley
LocationBoston, Massachusetts
Coordinates42°21′29.67″N 71°3′32.37″W / 42.3582417°N 71.0589917°W / 42.3582417; -71.0589917Coordinates: 42°21′29.67″N 71°3′32.37″W / 42.3582417°N 71.0589917°W / 42.3582417; -71.0589917

Pi Alley (often misspelled Pie Alley) in Boston, Massachusetts, is located off Washington Street, near the Old City Hall on School Street. The origin of the short street's name remains in question. It may be named after the pied type which newspaper composing rooms dumped into the alley in the past, or after the local restaurants that sold coffee and a piece of pie for a nickel.[1][2] It is also known as Williams Court, Savage's Court, Peck's Arch, and Webster's Arch.[3][4][5]


Through the years, tenants have included:

  • The Bell-in-Hand (est. 1795) was "a faithful reproduction of the taverns fashionable in London" in the 18th century.[6][7]
  • Boston Herald[8]
  • Boston police (c. 1854), corner of Court Square and Williams Ct.[9]
  • Private residences in 1832 of a clerk, colorer, cordwainer, handcartman, housewright, mariner, nurse, truckman, wheelwright, and several laborers, printers, and widows[10]
  • David Francis (1779-1853), printer, publisher (Munroe & Francis)[11]
  • "Oakum pickers tenement" (c. 1711). "In 1711, Oct. 2, a fire commenced in Williams' Court in an oakum pickers tenement, where the woman suffered the fire 'to catch the oakum she was employed in picking of;' all the houses and stores on both sides of Washington St. between School St. and Dock Square were laid in ashes."[12]
  • Life in Boston, a weekly periodical (c. 1851)[13]
  • Samuel Sewall (c. 1727). "Monday, July 10th, 1727, removed with my family to Boston. Hired a house in Deacon Williams Court next house to Deacon Williams, N. Gates and N. Gleason, bringing my household stuff."[14]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Warning on Pi Alley; Boston Byway Posted as Private but Traffic Goes On. New York Times, January 11, 1922.
  2. ^ Boston Globe Guide to Boston. 2005
  3. ^ Boston Street Laying-Out Dept. A record of the streets, alleys, places, etc. in the city of Boston]. Boston: City Printing Dept., 1910.
  4. ^ Edward Hartwell Savage. Boston events: Boston for 250 years, from Blackstone to O'Brien. Boston: Mutual News Co., 1886.
  5. ^ "Street Book - City of Boston". www.cityofboston.gov. Retrieved 2010-05-29.
  6. ^ John F. Murphy. Up-to-date guide book of greater Boston. Boston: Murphy, 1904; p. 60
  7. ^ "The Bell-in-Hand, 1795: Boston's Oldest Tavern". Caledonian (NY), v. 11, no. 4, Aug. 1911; pp. 166–167.
  8. ^ Bostonian Society. Old Boston in early photographs, 1850-1918. Dover Publications, 1990; p.16.
  9. ^ Edward Hartwell Savage. Boston events: Boston for 250 years, from Blackstone to O'Brien. Boston: Mutual News Co., 1886.
  10. ^ Boston Directory. 1832
  11. ^ Roberts. History of the Military company of the Massachusetts, now called the Ancient and honorable artillery company of Massachusetts. 1637-1888, Volume 2. Boston: A. Mudge & son, printers, 1897; p.333-334
  12. ^ Dearborn's reminiscences of Boston. 1851; p.32
  13. ^ Dearborn's reminiscences of Boston. 1851; p.90
  14. ^ Sewall, quoted in: "Early Reminiscences." City Record and Boston News-Letter, Jan. 21, 1826
  15. ^ Boston Directory. 1832

External links[edit]