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.