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Column for 5.30.12
Village of Lowville officials are looking for help in naming a street. I read the following in last weekís Boonville Herald:
ďThroughout the Village of Lowville, one street has never been named and now village officials are looking to correct that. Community members are asked to submit their ideas for a name for the short street that connects North State and West State streets and separates the Lowville Presbyterian Church from the triangular Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Park...Ē
Since I donít live in the Village of Lowville, Iím not eligible to submit a name. I will, however, provide some unsolicited guidance to those who can.
First off, Lowville residents ought to take advantage of this opportunity and suggest names. It isnít often that a street is named. This may be their first and last chance.
Secondly, I hope the folks in Lowville come up with an interesting name, something historic or funny or informative.
Bad street names, in my humble opinion, are names that are numbered as in 1st Avenue. That might be efficient, but it isnít very interesting. Numbered streets offer no imagination, no sense of place.
Iím not too fond of streets named after trees, either. Every city and town Iíve ever been in has streets named after trees. Up north we have Elm streets and Maple streets. Out west there are Pine streets and Mesquite streets. Oak streets are big in the south.
And Iím not a big fan of Main Street, although every community has one. Sometimes Main streets arenít even main streets any longer.
I like streets named after presidents but only if the president has a connection to the community. Naming a street after Harry Truman, for example, is fine if President Truman visited or did something to benefit the community. Truman had a place in Key West, so naming a street after him there was a good thing.
The exception to this would be Washington and Lincoln streets and other presidents of their caliber. Every community should have streets with those names.
Sometimes street names get changed, but it doesnít happen often and when it does it should be for good reason. Take, for example, what happened long ago in Utica.
Rome Street ran from Uticaís Genesee Street west to, as you might guess, Rome. But when a famous visitor came to Utica he came into town on Rome Street and the street was renamed in his honor. Thus we have Lafayette Street, named in honor of The Marquis de Lafayette, a hero of the Revolution, who was on a victory tour after the war.
By the way, a friend of mine who has vacationed on Long Island swears to me that somewhere on Long Island is the intersection of Lois Lane and Frankie Lane.
New Orleans, a place that I often visit, is known for its street names, including a district that has streets named after Greek muses, Polyhymnia, Terpsichore and Melpomene, among others. Another district in New Orleans has these streets: Law, Hope, Agriculture, Music, and, one of my favorites, Duels. Maybe some swordplay or shootouts once took place on Duels but Iím not sure.
Another of my favorite New Orleans street names is Elysian Fields. In the Greek underworld, if you were bad, you went to Hades, but if the gods smiled on you, you got to hang out in the lovely Elysian Fields, which, alas, isnít so lovely today.
Frenchmen, Desire, Good Children are three other street names in New Orleans. I like to take out the commas.
Although, I canít pronounce it, I like the New Orleans street name of Tchoupitoulas Street, which isnít too far from the French Quarter.
When I was in Dublin several years ago, two streets that did not escape my attention were Bachelorís Walk and Bride Street. The two streets do not intersect.
Which reminds me of Loverís Lane. Many communities have a road named Loverís Lane, including Boonville and Oriskany. I can only guess why.
One more note of caution for the folks in Lowville. You need to avoid street naming confusion. In San Francisco there is a Castro Street, but not to honor Fidel, as liberal as they might out in the City by the Bay. Castro Street honors Jose Castro, a Mexican leader in the early days of California.
Speaking about street name confusion, I should mention Joe Kelly Memorial Drive, which is in Oriskany, and worth a story at some point, maybe even next week.