How Do Streets Get Named?

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ThinkStock/Erin McCarthy

For the most part, real estate and subdivision developers have the privilege of naming new streets in the United States. The name is submitted to the city for review, at which point the public service departments, such as police, fire, and the post office, are given the opportunity to veto the name if they feel it creates any confusion.

“The developer submits street names to the city through the relevant departments for review,” Catherine Nicholas, agent/owner of the CADO Real Estate Group in San Diego, told FoxNews. “The building, engineering and public works departments all comment, but the departments that have the most input and veto power are police and fire. The concern here is that the street names are unique and intelligible enough for them to distinguish and find a street and property in an emergency.” 

While developers can feel free to submit any name they’d like for a new street, such as the name of their child, it typically doesn’t work out because cities have guidelines and standards for certain areas that require street names to be of a specific theme.

This is why, for example, you see a large quantity of streets named after trees in one particular section of Philadelphia, or all 50 states represented in street names in Washington D.C. If the proposed name of a new street does not fit that theme, there’s a good chance it will be rejected, but how strict these policies are depends on the individual town/city. If you happen to be a developer (or decide to bribe one) and want to name a street after yourself, you’d have better luck in a newly developing suburb than you would in an established city.

With that in mind, here’s some food for thought: The names of trees and numbers make up the greatest number of street names in the country, and the most popular U.S. street name is “Second” or “2nd,” because “First Street” is often replaced with “Main Street” or something similar.  

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October 7, 2013 - 9:30am
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