Saturday, January 27, 2018

The Most Popular Street Names in America

This week German newspaper Die Zeit carried out some interesting analysis of German street names. Unsurprisingly they discovered that some of the most popular street names have a historical or cultural significance. This is less true in most areas of the USA.

Cartographer Jonah Adkins has discovered that the most popular street names in the southeastern state of Virginia do have local historical significance. In The Open (Data) Roads of Virginia he reveals that 'Main Street' is the most popular name in the Commonwealth but the next five most popular street names all have more historical significance. 'Lee' is the second most popular name, commemorating Robert E Lee commander of the Confederate States Army and the Army of Northern Virginia. The next most popular names (in order of popularity) are Richmond, Washington, Virginia and Jefferson.

Jonah also discovered that the most popular suffixes in Virginian street names are Road, Drive, Street, Lane, Avenue and Court.

It isn't that surprising that 'Main Street' is the most popular street name in Virginia. It is by far the most common name for roads in the United States as a whole. In 2015 the Washington Post looked into the most popular road names in the USA. In We counted literally every road in America they reveal that 'Main Street' is the most popular street name. This is followed by streets called 'Park', 'Second' and 'First' - in that order.

In most analysis of street names 'Second' and 'First' usually come ahead of 'Park'. However most lists do agree that there are more Second Streets than there are First Streets. The WaPo argues that this is probably because the primary thoroughfare in most towns is called 'Main Street' and not 'First Street'

What the Washington Post's list reveals however is that Virginia is a bit of an anomaly with its interest in history. Americans as a whole prefer their streets to have numbers or names of trees. The WaPo list finds that after numbers more streets are named after types of tree than anything else. However Presidents' names are the third most popular category of street name in the USA. So at least some American street names have a sense of history.

If you want to know the most popular street names in your state then you can find a list of the top ten street names in each state in the Washington Post article.

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