There are some things in life that you interact with everyday, but never really give much mind to. Street names are definitely one of those things. Everyone could probably rattle off at least 20 street names from their hometown, but, other than a way to give directional advice, few think very much of them.
The naming process for streets seems random at best, with some streets bearing presidential names such as Washington and Jefferson, while others possess laughable monikers such as Kickapoo Rd in Oklahoma. Typically, street names are submitted to the city by builders and city planners and the city approves or disapproves them (with public service workers having the power to veto any name that isn’t fitting). So now you know if there’s a street in your town with an absurd name, chances are your city officials at one point had quite a sense of humor. Alternatively, if you want to have a street named after you, it may be a good idea to buddy up with a road developer (just don’t be weird about it).
In a recent study, the most common street names in America were uncovered. Not surprisingly, the top name for roads overall was Main. In fact, there are 8,465 Main Streets (or some variation with another suffix) in the country. The name was followed by State Street (1108) and Washington Street (996). This, of course, makes George Washington the most popular president to name streets after.
In discovering the most common street names, the study also revealed some intriguing tidbits of random information. For example, while New York Avenue is not the most common street name in New York, it is the most common street name in Washington, D.C. Also, there are supposedly 50 more 4th Streets out there than there are 3rd Streets--who knew?
Once you really consider them, street names can be very revealing of a place. If you’re on one of the many Main Streets of America, chances are you’re in the heart of the town or city your currently in. Numbered streets help you gauge distance and direction so you can find your way in cities (even without your trusty Maps app!). Some honor famous people from the past or impactful residents of the place itself. Others pique curiosity, such as Holy Terror Trail in South Dakota (which may be one to avoid depending on your terror-tolerance level).
All in all, the names of the streets in a place help to define it and reveal tiny bits of a place’s story. Next time you hop in the car to go to the grocery or a friend, take note of the names of the roads you pass and see what interesting discoveries you can make.
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