In L.A. we have an Exposition Boulevard. It runs east and west and begins at the southern edge of Downtown (or the northern edge of South Central). There’s a major city park, Exposition Park which contains several major museums and a locally famous Rose Garden. You can also find parts of Exposition Blvd in areas to the west running all the way out to Santa Monica. You would think it’s a good way to get from the central city out to the beaches, but it isn’t. The catch is that, in spite of its grand name, it’s little more than a two-lane road for most of its length. It dead-ends in many places, only to pick up again a mile or two further on. And equally numerous are the places where it ends at, or crosses, a major artery with fast-moving traffic where the more cautious driver has no choice but to make a right turn. So, I have two questions about this.
(1) Does your city have anything like this? (This is why this is in IMHO)
(2) For anyone knowing anything about L.A. history, why is it like this? Did somebody once imagine that this was going to be the major traffic artery between downtown and the beaches?
We’ve got a lot of little alleys with names like Gov. Fredrick Shunk Avenue. A lot of them are afterthoughts. “We should name a street after this guy, but all we’ve got left are these alleys.”
I’m a native Angeleno myself, and if I can offer an educated opinion, I think it’s that Exposition Blvd. was laid out in the 1920s or 30s while there was still a lot of open land, and before the interstates were built. Consequently what was a direct route from the beach to Exposition Park ended up following a more tortuous path as more streets and the interstates were built.
The road originally led from the city waay out into the boonies to where the fairgrounds were.
In 1910 the fairgrounds were converted to a cultural center named Exposition Park, with museums & such. And the street was widened & improved & renamed Exposition Boulevard to suit its exalted purpose. But it was still a little outside of town, mostly surrounded by farms.
Over the next 100 years the rest of LA filled in. And the area immediately further to the west from Exposition Park was mosly non-descript housing, retail & a little light industry. When that area was filling in, the beaches were seen as very far away.
That can’t be right; Exposition Park is south of the center of town, and the street runs east and west from that point. Also, IIRC, the area of L.A. between the center and Exposition Park was fairly built up even then. I expect that an existing street was renamed in honor of the exposition; most of L.A.s streets that close to the center were laid out long before 1920.
On the other hand, there is an old railroad right-of-way along its entire length, part of which is being revived by the local transit authority for mass transit. Ordinary roads that run near or along railroads in city areas usually are frequently interrupted along their length, so that may explain part of it.
A few years ago city council decided to name a street after legendary city councillor and bon vivant Nick Auf der Maur (father of Melissa, if you’re wondering). However, Councillor Auf der Maur was known to be opposed to the renaming of streets; accordingly, a tiny alley adjoining well-known party district Crescent Street was duly given the grand name of Ruelle Nick-Auf der Maur, amid loving jests that he had probably thrown up there on a number of occasions.
I’m told that in the 16e arrondissement in Paris, there’s a square by the portentous name of Square des Écrivains-Combattants-Morts-pour-la-France.
Macomb, Illinois, has named some of its alleys. The town square is literally a town square: four streets surrounding a courthouse. North, east, south and west of the courthouse are little block-long gaps, about 6 feet wide, between buildings. The city has named them.
And here in Springfield, Illinois, where Abraham Lincoln lived for 25 years is Lincoln Street, which is… a nondescript residential street.
There are also a number of large streets on the South Shore with grand names such as Boulevard Milan, Boulevard Napoléon, and Boulevard Rome, that are called that for no better reason than that they go through sections of Brossard where all the streets have names beginning with M, N, and R respectively.