A Street By Any Other Name

Lifehacker ran an excerpt from a video by Phil Edwards this morning concerning street names. Apparently, some municipalities, state transportation departments, and county planners use naming conventions for the last part of street names, such as ___ Street, ___ Blvd, ___Drive, etc. This is clearly evident in Manhattan, where avenues run lengthwise through the island and streets cross the avenues (for the most part). But it’s also apparent that some municipalities, counties, and states do not follow conventions.

Here’s Mr. Edwards’ sample list of naming conventions:

  • Road (Rd.): Can be anything that connects two points. The most basic of the naming conventions.
  • Way: A small side street off a road.
  • Street (St.): A public way that has buildings on both sides of it. They run perpendicular to avenues.
  • Avenue (Ave.): Also a public way that has buildings or trees on either side of it. They run perpendicular to streets.
  • Boulevard (Blvd.): A very wide city street that has trees and vegetation on both sides of it. There’s also usually a median in the middle of boulevards.
  • Lane (Ln.): A narrow road often found in a rural area. Basically, the opposite of a boulevard.
  • Drive (Dr.): A long, winding road that has its route shaped by its environment, like a nearby lake or mountain.
  • Terrace (Ter.): A street that follows the top of a slope.
  • Place (Pl.): A road or street that has no throughway—or leads to a dead end.
  • Court (Ct.): A road or street that ends in a circle or loop.

As I read the article I found my mind drifting back to the town where I grew up. Eaton Place did not dead end, but connected Pompton Avenue and Yorkshire Drive. Harper Terrace did not follow the top of a slope, but crested a small hill and continued down the other side. Cedar Grove Parkway was probably more of a neighborhood Boulevard. Hmm, clearly a confusing childhood.

So, if I was a developer, what would I name the street through my new subdivision? Snowdon Boulevard, Snowdon Place, or maybe Snowdon’s Way? OK, I like that one because Snowdon’s way generally does not conform to convention.

Here’s the video:


About Gary Snowdon, ASA

Commercial Real Estate Appraiser in New York State's Hudson Valley, Capital, Saratoga, and Adirondack Regions.
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