Themed Street Names

It’s whimsy to be sure, but I enjoy finding groups of streets whose names have a common theme. That’s different than the alphabets of Minneapolis and its western suburbs, or the newer alphabets of Dakota and Washington Counties.

The classic, bucolic small town theme is trees. The Twin Cities suburbs have absorbed a series of freestanding small towns that have resisted systematic county-wide renaming, and that is where tree streets reside. Perhaps the best group is on Stillwater’s west hill. From north to south are Aspen, Elm, Hickory, Maple, Laurel, Cherry, Linden, Mulberry, Myrtle, Olive and Oak. Forests of consecutive tree names are also found in Chaska, Farmington, Hastings and Prescott.

Presidents abound, most notably in northeast Minneapolis, overflowing into St. Anthony, where they appear in order from Washington to Roosevelt. Minneapolis ran out of real estate which precluded adding more, so when Kennedy was assassinated, they added him as an east-west street over by Stinson Boulevard. Presidents appear grouped but in lesser profusion in Anoka and Shakopee.

The Three Points Peninsula in Mound has birds in convenient alphabetical order–Avocet, Bluebird, Canary, Dove, Eagle, Finch, Gull and Heron. Victoria has alphabetized flowers.

Northeast Minneapolis has Winter, Spring, Summer, but not Fall. Southeast Minneapolis had all the Great Lakes except Michigan. Alas, Superior has disappeared under a freeway interchange.

Nowadays one would probably avoid naming whole subdivisions after native America tribes, but Indian Hills in western Edina features Paiute, Shawnee, Cheyenne, Navajo, Blackfoot, Dakota, Sioux, Apache, Mohawk, Iroquois, Pawnee and Cherokee. There is a smaller such grouping in Mendota Heights.

Circle Pines looks heavenward with Stardust, Twilight, Galaxie, Aurora, Northstar and Moonlite.

In the upper reaches of Fridley, a musically inclined developer developed Symphony, Lyric, Tempo, Melody, Ballet and Concerto.

In south Minneapolis near the Mississippi River and 42nd Street is a quarter mile square neighborhood that developed late because the land was owned by the University of Minnesota. It is now filled with 60s split-levels on curving streets named Morrill, Burton, Coffman, Northrop, Falwell and Coffey.

My favorite set of themed streets occurs in St. Paul Park, which was developed as a commuter suburb along the tracks of the Burlington Railroad. The idea was to be like St. Paul, but the addition of the word “Park” signaled leafy country living. There you will find, in exact order with one exception, the same street names as the Summit Hill neighborhood–Summit, Portland, Holly, Ashland, Laurel, Lincoln (the exception), Selby, Dayton and Marshall.

Aaron Isaacs

About Aaron Isaacs

Aaron retired in 2006 after 33 years as a planner and manager for Metro Transit, where he worked in route and schedule planning, operations, maintenance, transit facilities, light rail and traffic advantages for buses. He's an historian of transit, as a 40+ year volunteer with the Minnesota Streetcar Museum. He's co-author of Twin Cities by Trolley, The Streetcar Era in Minneapolis and St. Paul, and author of Twin Ports by Trolley on Duluth-Superior.

16 thoughts on “Themed Street Names

  1. Blake

    I’ve always been a fan of the chemical element street names in Anoka: Argon, Barium, Cobalt, Dysprosium, all the way to Zirconium. For some reason they went with Erkium (which apparently isn’t a thing) for E, when they could’ve used Erbium, which actually is an element. There’s no J or Q elements, so they went with Junkite (not a thing?) and Quicksilver (another name for mercury).

    1. Bill LindekeBill Lindeke

      I was going to bring this up! I had a temp job once filling out addresses for Comcast subscribers and discovered the elemental landscape in Anoka. Very nerdy!

      Argon Avenue. LOL “Molybdenum Way.”

  2. Michael

    There a a batch of residential streets near Birch Lake in White Bear Lake with women’s names: Sandra, Carolyn, Sharon, and Peggy Lanes; plus Karen, Debra, Margaret, Grace, and Florence.

  3. Mathias

    There is a small neighborhood in Fargo near a golf course with the street names Par, Birdie, and Eagle. No Bogey, though. Out of context, living on Birdie St is a bit odd and Par St implies “just good enough”.

  4. Jonathan Lord

    There’s also a neighborhood in Eagan that has: Pennsylvania Avenue, Short Line, States Avenue, New York Avenue, Ventnor Avenue, Reading Road, and States Avenue as street names from a Monopoly board; and across Diffley from that neighborhood, the streets all have Revolutionary War battle site names. On another note, the streets of Saint Paul are documented in a book called, “The Street Where You Live” by Donald L. Empson which is fascinating.

  5. Steve Wilson

    Collette, Dorothea, Norbert, Susan, maybe more named after family members of the developer of that part of Highland in St. Paul

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  7. Monte Castleman

    Apple Valley has a bunch of streets with the same letter next to each other-
    Fernando, Ferris, Findey, Fleetwood, Flagstaff, Foliage, Fordham. Fairlawn, that change letters every mile.

    Also, it’s a private trailer court, but the Shakespear themed streets in Lakeville.

  8. Donald Empson

    There are a number of themed street names in St. Paul, all of which are mentioned in my book: The Street Where You Live; A Guide to the Place Names of St. Paul. Available at all local bookstores. There is also a discussion of the quality of our street names.

    I would like to see a development called the Urinary Tract, with Prostate Boulevard, Urethra Lane, Kidneystone Drive–you get the idea.

  9. mplsjaromir

    I gotta say the Las Vegas area is much better at this. They have a Beatle themed neighborhood called Strawberry Fields. Lord of The Rings, old Hollywood, Star Wars, Country Music, Disco all have neighborhoods with street named after them. I think its largely because neighborhoods do not have any continuity so developers have to come up new names for every street. I lived on some strange street names there, Lipari, Baltinglass, Curlew.

  10. Reilly

    Shakopee is chock-full of themes. Non-precious stone references on the west end of Vierling Drive (Agate, Sandstone, Quarry), semi-precious on the east (Ruby, Sapphire, Onyx, Jade). Minnesota pioneers’ first and last names on the south end near the hospital (Hazen and Mooers; Anton and Philipp; Faribault; Mathias). And of course, given Canterbury Park, horse references everywhere (Charismatic, Affirmed, Ferdinand, Appaloosa, Arabian, Kiso, Tarpan, Pottok).

  11. Liz Puhl

    A cartographer from Chicago did a very entertaining Pecha Kucha talk about street names at the NACIS conference last month. The text of the presentation isn’t included, unfortunately, but the slides of map snippets are here:

    mplsjaromir: I believe the neighborhood on Slide 16 with Wild Thing Court and Hanky Panky Street is in Las Vegas. (Does the Lord of the Rings-themed neighborhood include Mordor Drive? I would love to have that as my shipping address.)

  12. John

    There is an industrial area in Eagan bound by Lexington, Lone Oak, Yankee Doodle, and Dodd that is named after NASA related people and things:
    Gemini Rd, Neil Armstrong Blvd, Aldrin Dr, Apollo Rd, Mike Collins Dr, Columbia Dr, Discovery Rd

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