I remember as a kid, one of the neatest things I loved to do was look at maps; I had an unabated love for geography and those map reading skills still come in handy to this day. That being said, perhaps it is no surprise that I love looking at Google Maps and explore the world. Well, one of the places I love to explore is my own hometown and one of the things I love wondering about are the names of the streets here in Troy.
For example, I wonder how common it is to have both a Short Street and a Long Street in the same city. I’d guess it is probably not too uncommon, but I found it interesting that in our town Short Street is actually longer than Long Street. According to the digital ruler on Google, Short Street .4 miles long, Long Street is .3 miles long.
And speaking of short streets, there are plenty of streets that are shorter than Long Street. I remember as a youngster, I would always implore my mother to drive down Olive Street as we drove down Ridge Avenue. Now, there was nothing down Olive Street. Nothing. It was basically a street that accessed a parking lot in front the Hobart Brothers World Headquarters.
In the hall of short streets, Hauenstein Court, Julian Court and Pearson Court could be inducted as well. These streets located close to downtown are basically glorified alleys and run for approximately one block. You couldn’t easily drive down these streets, and if you didn’t live there or knew someone there, there was really no reason to drive down those streets.
Another oddity of our streets is that many of our streets aren’t exactly oriented north, east, south or west. The longest and busiest street in town, Main Street more or less goes Northwest to Southeast, even though we call it West and East.
It’s also a bit peculiar that not only do we have a North Market Street and South Market Street, but we have a West Market Street, as well. I almost inclined to think that West Market Street would be a perfect street to rename, if we ever decide to get to that point.
Perhaps even more strange is the case of West Street. Now, we have a West Street over between Lincoln Avenue and Ridge Avenue, but there is also a section between Market Street and Union Street. We call the east section East West Street, which is kind of strange. Do we call the west portion West West Street? On this point, I am not sure.
It’s also probably pretty common to have streets named after Presidents. I guess when the early city fathers of Troy were platting out the town, naming a street after a President seemed like a fitting honor. Looking around town we have most the early Presidents covered, Washington, Adams, Jefferson, Madison, Monroe, Jackson, Harrison, Lincoln, Grant and Garfield covered. It does make we wonder if the early city fathers had something against Martin Van Buren or James Polk.
We also have streets named after some other famous people as well, even though you have to make some assumptions. Now Paul Revere Way seems pretty obvious. In addition, I am going to guess it’s a pretty safe assumption to think that Franklin Street is named after Benjamin Franklin. Perhaps Patton Street is named after General Patton? Could Clay Street be named after famous statesman Henry Clay? It’s probably a stretch to think that Henley Road was named after rock and roll artist Don Henley. And I know that Mumford Drive was here way before Mumford and his band came to town a few years ago.
Then there are the streets you just aren’t sure who they are named after. For example, who was Drury? Who was Enyeart? What about Wayne? Who was Simpson? And it’s not just last names, our streets have first name mysteries as well. Could Amelia Avenue be named after Ameila Earhart? Who were Heather, Tyrone and Jean?
And in all honesty, we have only begun to scratch the surface. I am sure there is a story behind every street name in town.
William (Bill) Lutz is executive director of The New Path Inc. He can be reached at [email protected]