Thursday, October 03, 2019

What Are Your Roads Called?

Last week, in Medieval Streets, Modern Roads, I investigated the theory that at some point in the Seventeenth Century in the UK we stopped naming roads with the suffix 'Street' and started using the suffix 'Road' on a much more frequent basis. I became interested in visualizing this historical pattern in UK road names partly because of Data Stuff's Beautiful Hidden Logic of Cities.

The Beautiful Hidden Logic in Cities is a series of maps which shows city roads colored by their name suffixes. This series of maps of American cities uses different colors to show all roads called 'Avenue', 'Boulevard', 'Street', 'Road' etc. Data Stuff has now also created a series of maps showing The Beautiful Hidden Logic of Cities – Worldwide.

I'm immediately drawn to the map of London which seems to confirm my theory. On this map you can again see the pattern common in UK cities where the medieval city center contains lots of roads named 'Street' (colored yellow), while outside the center streets are most often called 'Road' (blue).

Data Stuff's post includes similar maps for lots of cities elsewhere in the world. I think you can see a similar pattern in Sydney, Auckland and Toronto. Speakers of other languages may be able to spot other patterns in the maps of other countries around the globe. In the U.S. the street grid patterns found in many cities can often have a big influence on how a city's streets are named. For example in many cities you will find north-south streets named 'Avenues' and west-east roads called 'Streets' (or vice versa). This can be clearly seen in this map of the Streets and Avenues of Manhattan.

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