You did a great job of sending me examples of strangely or strikingly named streets, neighborhoods and cities, subject which I first wrote about in January and revisited in this newsletter, this one and this one. Today’s episode of Odd Neighborhood Names will be the last — we’ll find other fun topics to talk about — and I apologize to the many of you who submitted unused material. Thank you for your generosity. I had more options than space for them.
Almost all fell into one of three categories. I think of the first as “let’s pretend we’re somewhere we’re not.” Jane Houssiere of Boulder, Colo., wrote: “I live on the interface where the Rocky Mountains meet the semi-arid high plains. We are nowhere near any ocean.” But, she added, “developers had to be longing for the coast.” Here, in this mountainous interior, Barnacle Street, Starboard Drive, Driftwood Place, Sandpiper Circle, Beachcomber Court, Outrigger Court, Jib Court and more. It is a high tide of nautical nomenclature.
The second category is the motif-a-palooza, in which street namers work with a theme as aggressively as my Regan does her favorite bones. Rob Boas of Atlanta pointed me to the “Sherwood Forest” neighborhood of that city, where the streets include Robin Hood Road, Friar Tuck Road, Lady Marian Lane, Nottingham Way and Little John Trail.
John FX Keane of New Providence, NJ, noted that his childhood home of Binghamton, NY, has roads that pay tribute to classical composers: Beethoven, Mendelssohn, Mozart, Schubert, Wagner and more.
The motives can be… unexpected. Mary Beth Norton noted that Ithaca, NY, has a cluster of streets apparently named after cigarette and cigar brands: Winston Court, Salem Drive, Tareyton Drive and Muriel Street. Lest that seem eccentric, Barbara Lerner wrote that in the Gibson section of Valley Stream, NY, where she used to live, there is an abundance of roads with cigarette- or alcohol-related names: Marlboro, Munro (English gin), Carstairs. (blended whisky), Gordon (gin), Dubonnet (vermouth). The Gibson, of course, is the cousin of the martini, garnished with a pickled onion rather than an olive.
The third category: complete failures of imagination. Into this group falls what was probably your most appointed street name, Toronto’s soul-crushingly prosaic, spectacularly superfluous Avenue Road. But Sheila Gerstenzang of Las Vegas wrote with another beautiful example: Overthere Lane in North Las Vegas.
Beyond those categories are names of street, neighborhood and city, which do not seem like such names at all. In Ipswich, Mass., there is Labor in Vain Road, as former Ipswich resident, Douglas Atkins, and current, Tamsin Venn, pointed out.