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How Streets Get Named, From Durt Road to Promenade Chardonnay

Streets are also commonly named for current or former landmarks (Windmill View Road, El Cajon, Calif.), American presidents (especially Washington) and famous people who were born in the area. There's an East Bryan Street in Salem, Ill., for example, named for William Jennings Bryan, the politician best known for his involvement in the famous Scopes "Monkey" Trial of 1925.

Developers also often tender names representative of an area's primary business or industry (Promenade Chardonnay in the wine country of Temecula, Calif.) or for a physical characteristic of the road itself (17 Mile Drive in Carmel-by-the-Sea, Calif.). Another popular strategy is to name a street for its ultimate destination. In San Diego, for example, University Avenue once led to the first location of San Diego State University ... while College Avenue will take you to its current location.

Name changes
Can the name of a street affect the sale of a property? Yes, Nicholas says. "People always respond to the street name," she says. "The street name can be a real turn-off or an advantage."

So what if you don't like the idea of living, say, on Butt Road (Fort Wayne, Ind.)? Can you get the street name changed?

"Changing a street name is a very, very big deal, and this sort of thing is very, very rarely approved," Nicholas says. "In Carlsbad, the only successful change I remember during my tenure was changing the name of Carlsbad's main street from Elm to Carlsbad Village Drive, which was very controversial, as all attempted changes are."

She says you have to take into consideration how a name change would affect everybody with a home or business on the street.

"In a case like the Carlsbad Village Drive one, it required every property owner or renter to change all of their advertising, their stationery and business cards, to name just a few of the hassles," she says. Street name changes also affect external companies, such as those that make maps and GPS apps.

"In my research and experience, I know that trying to get a street name changed is not uncommon," Nicholas says. "But unless everyone on the street concurs or the city is behind it -- such as, say, renaming a major thoroughfare for Martin Luther King -- it rarely happens."

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