Why don't we do it in the road, instead of an avenue?

The United States is not a French-speaking country. That said, why are there are so many “avenues” here? This is a much more common name than “road”, though “street” and “drive” are holding their own. “Boulevard” is fairly common. Why so few “roads”?

The prevalence of “avenue” over “road” makes sense in, say, the Midwest or the former Louisiana purchase, the way “camino” dominates much of California. But New York? Dallas? Seattle?

Yeah, I know, it’s tongue in cheek. But why is “avenue” more common than “road”?

Personally, I think it sounds nicer.

Fifth Avenue vs. Fifth Road

Road is what it is. Avenue is more like a name.

This is not factual, just speculation.

“Street” and “avenue” are most commonly applied to city roadways. “Road” is usually reserved for a roadway that leads out of a city and/or connects it with another city. In the eastern US, “pike” is also used for roads between two cities.

Cities used “avenue” to indicate a main thoroughfare, as opposed to a street. Same for Boulevard, which is just a tad more grandiose.

Rough guide – a “street” was two lanes; an avenue, four; a boulevard, four with a median. (Not that these were followed with any regularity).

Roads, OTOH, were usually outside a city and have something of the rural in the name.

When the street plan for Manhattan was set up, avenues were major thoroghfares going North/South and Streets were narrower and going East/West (Broadway was the exception, but it predated the plan).

Where is that guideline from Chuck? I think of an avenue as being smaller than a street, but I agree that a boulevard is the biggest.


Don’t we know our gayic barrel?
Lilly boy, lullaby, Louisville Lou.
Trolley Molly don’t love Harold.
Boola boola, Pensacola, Hullaballoo.

CA also uses “Alameda” sometimes. Sometimes a particular municipality will have a street called “The Alameda”, and sometimes it will be used with other words. Translate as avenue or boulevard - it carries the connotation of being tree-lined as well.

What I really want to know is why the Peninsula has a main throughfare named “Alameda de las Pulgas”. “Avenue of the Fleas”? I suppose it was named to go with Pulgas Creek and Pulgas Ridge, but still …

Up here in Canada I have lived in several gridlined cities and towns where avenues all go in one direction and streets in the other direction.

In Washington, DC, all the main E-W and N-S roads are Streets, whereas the diagonal and haphazard roads, usually named after states, are Avenues.

the straight dope on road names can be found here: http://www.straightdope.com/columns/990423.html