Tis the holiday season, time to head over the river and through the woods to grandmother’s house, and to unfamiliar parts of town or even new cities for parties and visits.
GPS and digital maps have it infinitely easier to navigate strange areas. But it’s still helpful to know how to read a map and understand the conventions used for such purposes as laying out cities and naming roads. The folks at Vox recently created a video tutorial on the latter – and explanation of why roadways bear certain descriptors – avenue, street, parkway, et cetera.
It’s interesting stuff. I think most of it really applies to larger older cities, like New York and Washington, DC where, yes, streets are indeed public thoroughfares that run perpendicular to Avenues. But a lot of these naming conventions go right out the window out in the suburbs, where a subdivision may have a parkway, a terrace and a drive – none of which meet the textbook definitions.
Here are a just a few things you’ll learn from the video.
- Road (Rd.): Can be anything that connects two points. The most basic of the naming conventions.
- Way: A small side street off a road.
- Street (St.): A public way that has buildings on both sides of it. They run perpendicular to avenues.
- Avenue (Ave.): Also a public way that has buildings or trees on either side of it. They run perpendicular to streets.
- Boulevard (Blvd.): A very wide city street that has trees and vegetation on both sides of it. There’s also usually a median in the middle of boulevards.
- Lane (Ln.): A narrow road often found in a rural area. Basically, the opposite of a boulevard.
- Drive (Dr.): A long, winding road that has its route shaped by its environment, like a nearby lake or mountain.
- Terrace (Ter.): A street that follows the top of a slope.
- Place (Pl.): A road or street that has no throughway—or leads to a dead end.
- Court (Ct.): A road or street that ends in a circle or loop.
- Plaza (Plz.): An open public place surrounded by businesses or streets.