What's the difference between a street, a road, an avenue, a boulevard, etc.?


One evil abomination of a street suffix that was not mentioned by Cecil in this article was: stravenue. Yes, I said stravenue.

Here in Tucson, we have stravenues. Apparently, they are a cross between streets and avenues, meaning that they run diagonally, I guess (streets are east-west and avenues are north-south here).

The USPS website lists a ton of street suffixes, including the unholy Stravenue:

I was always taught that the definition of an avenue was that it was a street lined (on both sides) with trees…


BTW, another one that grossly violates the “unique without suffix rule” is Denver. They deliberately systematized the naming of later entities introduced between existing thouroughfares to use the same name with a different suffix - for instance, something introduced between 84th and 85th Avenue might become 84th Place - I lived on Monroe Way, which was right next to Monroe Street. They did this because they were trying to have a system whereby “avenues” (and “places”) ran east-west and were numbered, and “streets” (and “ways”) ran north-south and maintained some kind of system for consecutive streets. In some parts of the metro area, street names were arranged in alphabetical order.

Then again, they also imposed a uniform numbering on the entire metro area, and followed a “new 100 for each block” rule. I lived on a street two blocks long and had a five digit street address. But the address told you what avenue I was near. The numbering was so uniform that people would often simply leave municipality names off addresses. This screwed me up when I first moved to the Bay Area where street numbering changes to reflect local whimsey every time you cross a municipal boundary. I had to learn the hard way that it was required to remember that the address was in, say, Oakland, rather than Berkeley.

Cecil mentioned Chicago as presenting problems to mail carriers. Of course he should, since it’s the home of the SD.
An even worse example of UPS confusion could be Atlanta. It seems as if every third street, avenue or boulevard has some variation of Peach or Peachtree.

There seemed to be a fad not so long ago in the UK for entire new developments of houses to have streets all named the same, but with different suffixes. So you’d have Meadow Street, Meadow Place, Meadow Lane, Meadow Court, Meadow Avenue, Meadow Road etc… etc… all next to each other. Some don’t even get the suffix, they’re just ‘Meadow’. It’s a nightmare finding a house or mailing in such a place, as frequently you can remember ‘Meadow’, but was it Lane or Avenue?

A more stupid idea I can’t imagine. They must get the wrong mail and visitors all the time. I used to live in a Drive that was next to a Street and that was bad enough. But an entire housing development all called the same?

Behold, US Postal Service ZIP Code region 009** – San Juan-Bayamon-Carolina, PR.

During the post-WW2 expansion, and into the 1980s DEVELOPERS were free to number and name AT WILL the non-thoroughfare streets as the residential blocks/estates were built. As a result there are twenty seven "1st Street"s (As in, this is 1st St. of Caparra Terrace, that is 1st St. of Forest Hills, this other one is 1st. St. of Levittown Lakes…) Two distinct "De Diego Avenue"s and one “De Diego Street” in San Juan itself. Annexed territory retaining its original numbering. Each thoroughfare’s addresses starting at “01” regardless of geographic relation with the city center. Etc., etc.

The USPS itself gave up on its standard 3-line address (Name/Number-street/City-zip) for 009**, going to 4 lines minimum to identify what part of the city you’re aiming for. Confuses the heck out of credit-card companies when processing change-of-address forms.


I grew up in South Florida. The street naming convention there so strict you can find anybody. The City of Pompano Beach is divided into quadrents. My address was 1787 NE 49th ST. So I was North of Atlantic Boulevard (the only Blvd) and East of the geographical N-S line running through the Atlantic Blvd/Dixie Highway intersection. And this was the actual center of town. Streets alternated with Courts, and Avenues alternated with Terraces. The name 1787 indicated that I was between 17th Avenue and 16th Avenue.

There were no odd named roads. Everything except major roads were numbered. You couldn’t miss. Since I left Florida, every place I’ve lived has driven me half insane trying to find an address.

Omaha is only halfway to that. North-South streets are numbered Streets and Avenues. But all East-West roads are named. At least they keep the names consistent throughout the city. If you find California in the downtown area, it’s in the same relative posistion out west. :slight_smile:

In Yuma (where I’m from when I’m not from Tucson), it is common for a numbered street to be followed by a numbered “place”. So you get a pattern like this: 12th St., 12th Pl., 13th St., 13th Pl., etc.

This would be fine if it were consistent, but there are just as many places (er, streets?) in town that lack this pattern. It’s really a mess. Oh, well, at least they don’t have stravenues.

Aargh. This column was a painful reminder of how difficult my life is because I live on a street called Old Trail. Not Old Trail Street or Old Trail Road or Old Trail Avenue. Every time anyone asks for my address, I have to waste ten minutes explaining this quirk of fate to them. Even my bank statements have the wrong address on them. I have no idea how much mail is intended for me but never gets here because it’s addressed to Old Trail Road or something like that.

I found the column intensely reassuring, though, in that it clearly indicated that “Trail” is indeed a valid street name suffix. I had been wondering about that.