On a recent run to Lone Star Donuts on North Beckley, I encountered a never-before-noticed street sign: Oregon Avenue — a “state” street.
It brought to mind one of the questions I often have as I travel around: What is the rationale of naming city streets? I decided to do a little research and, in the process, came up with some interesting finds.
First, Dallas doesn’t have streets named for all 50 states, but there are quite a few. And these state streets are prevalent here in Oak Cliff.
In the Trinity Heights neighborhood, you’ll find the main clustering of “state” avenues: Iowa, Vermont, Idaho, Michigan, Alabama, Louisiana, Arizona, Missouri, Nebraska, Ohio, Maryland, Georgia, Illinois and Montana (where my grandmother’s house used to be, now underneath the interstate). There’s even Alaska Avenue!
Plus, eight others are in our area: Tennessee Avenue, running south from the Elmwood area to Kiest Boulevard, was named for the former Tennessee Dairy, which operated on the Elmwood subdivision property before being sold for residential and retail development. Makes sense.
But why is Texas Drive — not to be confused with Texas Street (which is near Baylor hospital) — way over in Westmoreland Heights, all by itself? And then there’s the aforementioned Oregon Avenue plus Colorado Boulevard and Delaware Avenue, all located in north Oak Cliff, separated both from each other and from their sister “state” streets over in Trinity Heights. Wyoming Street is in Western Heights. Kansas Avenue and West Virginia Drive both border I-20, but in two different zip codes.
Who makes these decisions?
Now if you want to go around the world, Oak Cliff offers that opportunity as well. You can visit Montreal, Melbourne, Genoa, Toronto, Tangiers, Touraine, Bahama(s), Toluca, Monte Carlo, Morocco, Acapulco and Moulin Rouge. Also available are Trinidad, Matagorda, Volga, Sumatra, Sicily, Warsaw, Fiji, Crete, Peru, Lebanon and Scotland. Who knew?
You can also travel America when you locate Sedona, San Jose, Ithaca, Nantucket, Sonora, Pensacola, Orlando, Montclair, Ann Arbor and Bar Harbor, Marfa and Presidio (Texas) and even Nob Hill. Want to tour the Pentagon? Cruise Pentagon (Parkway). Want to visit Graceland? It’s in Oak Cliff, too. You can even go to Hollywood!
Then there are the “president” streets: Madison, Adams, Van Buren, Tyler and Polk.
But where is our first president? Washington Avenue hugs the east side of Baylor hospital and Jackson is downtown. (Monroe is out of place, as well, alone in North Dallas.)
Jefferson Boulevard, presumably named for Thomas Jefferson because it originally intersected with Jackson Street in downtown’s Central Business District, now exists only in Oak Cliff. In 1944 the downtown portion of Jefferson was changed to Record Street.
You can also cross the “Atlantic” on the “Mayflower,” stomp at the “Savoy,” cruise down the “Danube,” or paddle the “Neches” or “Sabine.” Go to the Beverly Hills neighborhood and you can climb “Mt. Washington,” “Mt. Everest,” “Mt. Ararat,” and a number of other mounts. And, in the Cedar Crest area, we have the “bird” streets: Cardinal, Canary, Parrot, Eagle and Skylark.
Returning Lt. Comm. Angus Wynne Jr. named the streets surrounding his development, Wynnewood Village, for World War II U.S. naval leaders, battles and vessels: Woolsey, Mayrant, Bizerte, Manus, Nicholson, Grayson, O’Bannon, etc. And some streets further south, off Polk, were tagged for battle sites such as Anzio, Garapan and Salerno.
Across I-35 and south of Saner, the streets reflect WWII military leaders: Nimitz, Bradley, Krueger, Brodie, Mitscher and Eisenhower. Power players, for sure.
Street-wise, some additions around the Cliff have themes. Kiestwood has a slew of “wood” streets, as does Polk Terrace, while Country Club Fairways (southeast of the former Oak Cliff Country Club) has all the golf-related avenues. Travel to Irwindell and you can cruise all the “dell” streets. And Singing Hills, well, sings!
One of the interesting stories I stumbled onto is the renaming of a portion of East Kiest Boulevard. One of the eastern stretches of what is now Kiest was originally tagged “Ukraine”. However, with the Cold War heating up so intensely, the name “Ukraine” disappeared from the map around 1953.
Another story concerns the new houses being built in the early ’60s on what was formerly the lower end of Kings Highway. The homeowners wanted a name change, to separate themselves (and secure their property value) from the upper end of the thoroughfare where, in those days, a significant difference in pride of ownership, construction material, style of home and occupancy were evident. Thus, Timbergrove Circle was birthed, separated from Kings Highway by not only Mary Cliff Road but by name, as well.
With travel so expensive, why not pull out a map or fire-up your GPS and hit the local streets. Gather the family, grab a six-pack of Dr Pepper, and take off … around Oak Cliff. You can travel the globe in your car or, for the really rugged, on your bike. Oak Cliff has it all!
As a side note: Along with my grandmother’s house on Montana Avenue, my dad lived for a time on Montclair. Growing up, my family actually lived on both Monte Carlo Street and on Acapulco Drive. And, for a brief time around 1970, my parents had an apartment on Pentagon Parkway.