Where’s the logic?
In Wildwood, passionate discussions continue about the renaming of Old Slave Road. People on both sides of the debate have strong opinions. But outside Wildwood, many people may have never even heard of Old Slave Road – that is until now.
On Feb. 26, Robin Quivers, a news anchor on the “Howard Stern Show,” introduced Old Slave Road to the world – or at least the world defined by Stern’s listeners.
Quivers she brought up the topic of the name change during her “It’s time for Robin’s news” segment. She told Stern and his listeners that “there’s a road that may get a name change in Missouri. The road is called Old Slave Road.”
Stern said Quivers likes those names because it reminds people of history. That’s part of the debate in Wildwood.
All this talk of street names offers up food for thought and a new game to play on cross county road trips, “Find the streets with the most unusual names.” In Chesterfield, a good example would be Pine Corpse Path.
Yes, you read that right – corpse, as in dead body.
Was the developer paying homage to the trees that were bulldozed to make way for the street and the homes along it? And if so, why not call the resulting roadway Fallen Pine Path? Who knows?
Maybe the goal was to create a street that people would talk about. “Did you say corpse? You live on a street named corpse?”
In a region as large as West County, it’s hard to know what every developer was thinking when every street was named – or what logic was used.
Pine Corpse Path is off of Baxter Road. Now that’s a really good name. It’s easy to spell, even for a kindergartner, and it fits neatly on any size envelope. Perhaps that’s the logic that should be used in naming roads.
In the same vein, logic seems to be lacking in the assignment of street suffixes. For instance, “road” is often used to describe a main roadway in both residential and commercial areas, but it might also be given to a rural passage that is more dusty and picturesque, or one that is philosophical as in “The Road Not Taken.”
Likewise “street” is a very common suffix that can describe a small residential roadway or a major arterial one.
Some cities have naming policies and set guidelines such as “streets with planted medians should be known as boulevards or parkways.” But one wonders what policy, or lack thereof, produced Olive Street Road in West County, or a favorite in St. Charles County – Upper Bottom Road, which to outsiders seems to make no logical sense.
In a rare display of common sense, the U.S. Postal Service has declared that suffixes don’t really matter.
They simply wants street names to be unique, without regard to suffix, so that mail carriers can find the residence or business even if the suffix is left off.
There are a few other reasonable guidelines, such as street names should sound dissimilar, but basically developers and cities are left to name streets whatever they deem appropriate.
Try to give directions to St. Louis visitors and the naming of local streets takes a another illogical turn, especially if the visitor hails from a city like Tulsa where a system of logical street naming does exist.
These conversations often bring into question not only unusual name choices, but also the many, many roadways that have multiple names. Clarkson Road for instance is only Clarkson until it crosses Manchester and becomes Kiefer Creek Road – and there are other examples too countless to mention.
One that hangs on stubbornly is Hwy. 40 even though MoDOT maintains that the proper name of the West County roadway is Interstate 64.
Which is it? Are you a Hwy. 40 purist or an I-64 embracer? And while we’re on the topic, what’s your favorite street name peculiarity?
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