Greater Greater Washington

DC grid isn't Maryland's only street name pattern

Yesterday, I discussed the extension of DC's alphanumeric street naming system into Maryland. But there are other naming systems which are perhaps less logical but quirky enough to deserve mention.

Bowie, Maryland has a quasi-systematic set of named streets. Most of the suburban style housing built in the post war era falls in to sections where each street starts with the same letter. I've been told that many Bowie residents refer to their neighborhood simply using the letter, as in "E-section."

Another place worth mentioning is Bethesda. Several of the streets in and around the central business district are named after places in Northern Virginia. Arlington Road, Clarendon Road, Del Ray Avenue, Fairfax Road, Norfolk Avenue, St. Elmo Avenue, and Woodmont Avenue all reference places on the other side of the Potomac.

The region has not one, but (at least) two neighborhoods with streets named after places or characters from Star Trek. One is near Gaithersburg, the other in Largo.

As I pointed out yesterday, College Park uses university names as a part of its alphabetical street naming system. But two other Maryland neighborhoods also use colleges to name streets. One instance is in College Gardens, near Montgomery College. The other is Glen Echo.


Image from Google Maps. Click for interactive version.

Takoma Park has two different street naming patterns. In the central part of Takoma Park, streets tend to be named after flowers and trees. Closer to Silver Spring, streets are named after American cities.

There are probably other places in the region with interesting naming systems. Do any of you know where else we can find them?

Matt Johnson has lived in the Washington area since 2007. He has a Master's in Planning from the University of Maryland and a BS in Public Policy from Georgia Tech. He lives in Greenbelt. Hes a member of the American Institute of Certified Planners. He is a contract employee of the Montgomery County Planning Department. His views are his own and do not represent the opinion of his employer. 

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Also in Takoma Park, there's a series of streets named after Civil War figures: Grant, Lee, Sherman, Lincoln, etc.

by Julia on Sep 3, 2010 12:20 pm • linkreport

Actually, after looking at that map, it looks like every street in that area is named after a tree, uses "wood" in the name, or makes some other inference to trees.

by Max on Sep 3, 2010 12:29 pm • linkreport

Several streets in the oldest part of Rockville are named after presidents, e.g. Washington, Adams, Jefferson, Monroe, Van Buren. Just west of there is the sequence of Anderson, Beall, Carr, Dawson (which might have been more complete at one time).

by Adam S on Sep 3, 2010 12:32 pm • linkreport

The Star Trek development in Largo, for some reason they misspell "Riker" (they spell it "Reiker"). Needless to say that is an awesome find Matt. It may be worth lengthening my commute by about 1000% just to say I live on Picard Lane.

by Steven Yates on Sep 3, 2010 12:40 pm • linkreport

Make it so, Number One.

by Alex B. on Sep 3, 2010 12:44 pm • linkreport

Arlington County has a series of alphabetically-named north-south streets increasing from A to Z and in number of syllables the farther west one goes.

Another fun one I found is the intersection of Kenton Drive, Kenton Court and Kenton Place, adjacent to Newport Mill Park just south of Veirs Mill Rd. near Wheaton in Silver Spring.

by Malcolm Kenton on Sep 3, 2010 12:46 pm • linkreport

@Malcolm Kenton:
I think you'll find this post interesting:
http://greatergreaterwashington.org/post.cgi?id=4276

GGW covered Arlington's street naming in December.

by Matt Johnson on Sep 3, 2010 12:49 pm • linkreport

If you count Baltimore, there's a whole run of north-south streets on the east side of town (Highlandtown/Canton area) that are named alphabetically from west to east, starting just after Highland Avenue.

My mom and her sisters grew up in Highlandtown and can still recite the alphabets of streets, going from west to east:

Baylis St.
Conkling St.
Dean St.
Eaton St.
Fagley St.
Grundy St.
Haven St.
Iris St. (exists only for two blocks north of Monument St.; south of there, there are railroad tracks and industrial sites in the way)
Janney St.
Kresson St.
Lehigh St.
Macon St.
Newkirk St.
Oldham St.
Ponca St.
Quail St.
Rappolla St.
Savage St.
Toina St.
Umbra St.

then on the other side of Bayview Medical Center (formerly City Hospital):

Anglesea St.
Bonsal St.
Cornwall St.
Drew St.
Elnino St.
Folcroft St.
Gusryan St.
Hornel St.
Imla St.
Joplin St.
Kane St.

then you hit the current eastern boundary of the city and that's the end of that.

These streets were originally outside the city limits (they are east of East Avenue, which used to be the city's eastern boundary, just as North Avenue used to be the city's northern boundary). Some 19th century maps that I dug up indicate that there used to be numbered streets there but then they were given names later.

Just east of the city line, in the area around German Hill Road, there are four numbered north-south streets numbered 45th through 48th. I'm not sure if they were part of that old numbering system but I always kind of suspected they were.

by manfre on Sep 3, 2010 12:57 pm • linkreport

There is a neighborhood in Germantown where the elementary school is named after Ronald McNair the astronaut and some of the surrounds streets are space-themed. Such as Falling Star, Shooting Star, Eternity, Moonwalk...

by Melissa on Sep 3, 2010 1:49 pm • linkreport

This post is BEGGING for some of the crazy names in Columbia...you know:

Satan Wood Drive (now Satinwood)
Bright Plume
Slender Sky
Resting Sea
Snow Crystal

And those are all in one development near the Hickory Ridge "village".

http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&source=s_q&hl=en&q=Owen+Brown,+Columbia,+Howard,+Maryland+21045&sll=39.205322,-76.873956&sspn=0.022846,0.038581&ie=UTF8&cd=1&geocode=FTD8VQIdLHtr-w&split=0&hq=&hnear=Owen+Brown,+Columbia,+Howard,+Maryland&ll=39.205472,-76.8799&spn=0.011423,0.01929&z=16

by Reza on Sep 3, 2010 2:25 pm • linkreport

Pretty minor, but in Hanover,MD, there are several streets named after Lord of the Rings.

Aragorn Court
Gollum Road
Strider Court
Mordor Lane
Baggins Road

http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&source=s_q&hl=en&q=arundle+mills,&sll=39.154108,-76.721478&sspn=0.011781,0.01929&ie=UTF8&t=h&split=1&rq=1&ev=zi&radius=0.62&hq=arundle+mills,&hnear=&ll=39.141711,-76.711071&spn=0.010934,0.01929&z=16

by Mark on Sep 3, 2010 3:12 pm • linkreport

Near Martin State Airport in Middle River is Aero Acres, a neighborhood with all airplane-themes names, including such clunkers as "Right Elevator Drive."

by burgersub on Sep 3, 2010 4:16 pm • linkreport

Dale City, VA is clustered by alphabet, each Dale named accordingly: Ashdale, Birchdale, Cloverdale...Trentdale, with no I nor J, but 2 Ks -- Kerrydale and Kirkdale. I grew up on a B street in Forestdale.

by dcseain on Sep 3, 2010 5:45 pm • linkreport

This reminds me of Bramalea (the east part of Brampton, a suburb of Toronto). Also Brossard, Quebec (a suburb of Montreal).

by Andrew on Sep 3, 2010 8:47 pm • linkreport

I'm from Bowie and always thought it odd how people reacted to my mentioning the B section and such. Maybe my growing up with that naming pattern always makes me notice or appreciate them in other cities. This is a great thread.

I lived in Seattle for some time as well and their downtown core has a mnemonic for remembering the order of streets: jesus christ made seattle under pressure.

Jefferson, James, Cherry, Columbus, Marion, Madison, Spring, Seneca, University, Union, Pike, Pine

I've noticed a lot of President streets in north DC as well, any "logic" to that?

by Michael on Sep 4, 2010 5:50 am • linkreport

@Michael:
Yes, the president streets in NW and NE Washington do have logic; They're a part of an alphabetical progression.
http://greatergreaterwashington.org/post.cgi?id=3151

Not all of them are named after presidents. Some of them just happen to have the same names. Kennedy Street, for instance, was called Kennedy Street long before anyone knew who JFK was.

by Matt Johnson on Sep 4, 2010 9:45 am • linkreport

The reason for Bowie's street names is because they were developed by William Levitt, who used the same naming system in his namesake communities of Levittown, NY and Levittown, PA.

by Levittown on Sep 6, 2010 1:01 pm • linkreport

Only the "Belair" section of Bowie was developed by Levitt (T, S, K, F, & B Sections). One can even see the iconic Levitt Ranch house in these areas, albeit for about half the price of a Levittown, NY original.

by Levittonian on Sep 7, 2010 9:15 am • linkreport

Some of the subdivisions in northern Virginia are themed. For instance, in the Camelot one off of Little River Turnpike in Annandale, you have streets named after people of that legend... King Arthur Rd, Guinevere Dr, Launcelot Way.

by Wes on Sep 12, 2010 7:54 pm • linkreport

There is a small section of Potomac with streets named after painters. Goya, Whistler, Renoir, Gaugin, Cassat, Gainsborough.

http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&source=s_q&hl=en&geocode=&q=potomac,+md&sll=38.914035,-77.042742&sspn=0.007881,0.019248&safe=on&ie=UTF8&hq=&hnear=Potomac+River&ll=39.050502,-77.159085&spn=0.007865,0.019248&z=16

by Josh on Sep 13, 2010 3:38 pm • linkreport

Two neighborhoods in Springfield follow nominally alphabetical systems: North Springfield (http://goo.gl/maps/xXNw) and Ravensworth Farms (http://goo.gl/maps/0vpQ)

by Ralph Nelson on Nov 23, 2010 1:40 pm • linkreport

Streets in parts of Rock Creek Palisades and Newport Hills, neighborhoods on the north side of Kensington, are named for World War II admirals: Denfeld, Byrd, Nimitz, Halsey, Kincaid, Perry, Farragut, Dewey, Spruell, and so on.

http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&sll=37.0625,-95.677068&sspn=99.562065,157.851563&ll=39.038986,-77.080379&spn=0.012867,0.019269&z=16

by Jacob on Nov 24, 2010 11:49 pm • linkreport

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