Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Roady McRoadface

If you allow politicians to name streets and roads then they will undoubtedly give them the names of  men (definitely not women). Usually these will be men whose main claim to fame is that they have killed a lot of people.

The best way to avoid ending up with a road map which is dominated by the names of male psychopaths is to crowd-source the naming of your streets and roads. By doing this you can ensure that your road map is instead a delightful wonder of surreal humor. At least that is what happened in Belgium.

In Brussels city officials decided that the public could propose the names of the streets in a former industrial district which is undergoing regeneration. The public were invited to suggest the names of 28 streets and squares in the new Gare Maritime neighborhood. A jury then chose the winning names from all the entries. Allowing a jury to make the final choice for the district's new road names was obviously intended to ensure that the city didn't end up with controversial, offensive or overly ridiculous street names.

However I am happy to announce that the new Gare Maritime neighborhood will have a selection of surreal and wacky road names. My favorite is 'Ceci n'est pas une rue' (this is not a road), which is an obvious homage to Magritte's famous surreal painting 'Ceci n'est pas une pipe. You can view the new road names for yourself on the Discover the New Street Names interactive map.

Among my other favorites in these new road names are Place of Great Men (a new public square obviously dripping with irony). There are also a number of roads and paths which give the promise that they might lead to a better place.There is a Happiness Way, a Better World Path and a Dreams Drive. There are also two streets named for famous Belgian women. They are the film director Chantal Akerman and the first Belgian woman to become a doctor, Isala Van Diest.

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