I saw a street last week named “Camino Sin Nombre” and I wondered why? Did whoever is in charge of naming streets run out of names? Or did the people living on the street decide they wanted something original and unique? Regardless of the origin of the street name, the experience ignited my thinking about streets. I know, it’s a bit whimsical. Did you ever wonder who is in charge of naming streets? That is the definition of a trivial pursuit.
There are streets with numbers not to be confused with numbered avenues; streets with letters of the alphabet; streets named for Presidents, for trees and place names that residents know as local geographical features as such as mountains, rivers, lakes, woods. We lived for awhile on Shoreline Drive. And yes, it ran along the shore of a lake. I once had an office on Lakeshore Drive. Some streets have family names either honoring someone local or perhaps an historical figure. Almost every city has a Martin Luther King drive or avenue of some kind. As a young boy I lived on Wayne Avenue named for a Revolutionary War general Mad Anthony Wayne. We also had Wayne Hospital, Wayne Theater, Wayne Lakes and nothing at all for John Wayne.
Main Street is an obvious choice in many places. In the town where I grew up there was a Main Street but the main street downtown was called Broadway and it still is. It’s wider than Main Street so it is a broad way. Then there’s the name Highway but I don’t recall having seen a street called Low Way. Unless perhaps your name is Low. As for Park, if there is nothing following are we to assume it is a street? There is Park Avenue, Park Row, Park Place, Park Drive, and Park (fill in some other name such as these following.There’s Trail, Boulevard, and Road usually preceded by some descriptive characteristic. Highway, by the way, originated as the main road between two towns.
To add to the confusion, here in the Southwest, the Spanish names Camino, Calle and Paseo (path, street and walk) are used frequently and followed by something more descriptive such as del Norte, Entrada, Sierra Vista, and there are streets named after the Saints starting with San or St. And, in an attempt to be helpful, there are the perennial North, South, East and West designations.
Finally this. How about a street with no discernible break or change except that half of the length of the street is one name and the other half a totally different name? There has to be a story behind that! How about these two signs, one that says, “Dead End” and the other says “No Outlet”? We will all end up on one of those one day. In the meantime, journey on. No big learning, just a meandering mind still curious about things.