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Old 01-28-2015, 01:03 PM   #1
Arlington
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Street Name Etymology

This thread is for street-name stumpers. I have two:

Summer Street
..as found in, at least, Boston, Weymouth, Walpole, Hingham, Palmer, Rockport, Nahant, Taunton, Lynnfield, Worcester

Winter Street
..as found in, at least, Boston, Salem, Belmont, Hingham, Waltham, Winchester, Newburyport, Lawrence, Springfield, Franklin Stoughton, N.Reading)

If you're a Mass native (I'm not) you might think it "normal" to name streets for these two seasons, but frankly, based on living in Chicagoland, DC/MD/VA Area, and NYC, and visiting all over the USA, it is the case that other Americans DO NOT name their streets after Winter and Summer. There is definitely something weird going on here. It's like visting Paris and noticing that there are too many streets named for Jean Jaures.

Did did a wave of neo-Druid and solstice-worship suddenly wash over Mass in 1708 while Dudley was governor? (It is a little too early for a Unitarian thing). What happened such that so many towns felt they needed a "Winter" or a "Summer" to stay in someone's good graces?

And it seems unlikely to be a hat tip to the Sumner family.

Some streets have obvious names, like:
- venues they serve (Park)
- business concentrations (Milk)
- natural features (Spring)
- Colonial dudes (Boyleston)
- Governors (Bowdoin, Dudley, etc.)
- Alphabetized Dukes
- Trees from Elm to Willow to Acorn.

If this were seasons, we should see Spring, Fall, or Autumn in the same "thematic clusters", but we don't.

Was a towns Winter street reserved for sleighs?
Was its Summer street kept hotter and drier, or host to "summer markets?"
Were they oriented a particular way (like Stonehenge?)

This is near-impossible to Google, too, since the concepts of Winter and Summer are far too generic to be specifically-famous for anything (such that you'd name a street for, for instance)
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Old 01-28-2015, 01:09 PM   #2
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Re: Street Name Etymology

I love how in Boston's case, Winter actually becomes Summer (and vice versa).
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Old 01-28-2015, 04:45 PM   #3
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Re: Street Name Etymology

The rest of the country doesn't have Summer and Winter streets? How peculiar, I'd always assumed that they were just street name staples like trees or people.
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Old 01-28-2015, 05:01 PM   #4
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Re: Street Name Etymology

Where's Westie when you need him?
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Old 01-28-2015, 05:05 PM   #5
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Re: Street Name Etymology

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Originally Posted by deh74 View Post
The rest of the country doesn't have Summer and Winter streets? How peculiar, I'd always assumed that they were just street name staples like trees or people.
In support of what was only an impression that they were uniquely-Mass staples, I Googled "Summer Street [Statename]" and while most states have a town or two you just don't get the same crazy density or see them "in a place of honor" as you do in Mass.

And I guess I'll go to the BPL or Athenaeum and ask what they know about the culture of 1708 that made Blott's Lane and Bannister's Lane fall from favor, and why "Winter" would be thought a better name (and why the pairing with "Summer" also dates to 1708)

(Illinois' Summer Streets, to pick a similar-sized state at random, are in the minor towns Pekin, Hillsboro, and Shorewood...basically noise)
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Old 01-28-2015, 05:41 PM   #6
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Re: Street Name Etymology

Looking at towns near me in Vermont and New Hampshire most of them have a summer and/or winter street so I think it might even be a New England thing.
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Old 01-28-2015, 06:13 PM   #7
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Re: Street Name Etymology

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Originally Posted by citylover94 View Post
Looking at towns near me in Vermont and New Hampshire most of them have a summer and/or winter street so I think it might even be a New England thing.
Boston's 1708 supports a "New England" culture, coming after the Dominion of New England is cast off (1689) and just after Queen Anne (1707) and just before the conquest of Acadia (1710)
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Old 01-28-2015, 07:09 PM   #8
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Re: Street Name Etymology

If it is a New England thing, maybe look to Old England as the source.
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Old 01-28-2015, 07:53 PM   #9
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Re: Street Name Etymology

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Originally Posted by fattony View Post
If it is a New England thing, maybe look to Old England as the source.
I am going to keep looking for events in the 1690 to 1708 period, which also includes the Act of Union (btw England & Scotland) in 1707. Also if memory serves the Old State House isn't until later {edit: big fire in 1711 calls for State House built 1712-1713)

I do think it likely that the names became fashionable in the rest of NE after Boston made it fashionable, being very much the Hub of what would become MA/VT/NH/ME

Likely dead ends include:
- Boston, Lincolnshire, which has some "summer" stuff, but by 1708 haven't the "sister city" things been forgotten?

- Somerville might have been a variant of Summer, but dates to the 1842 separation from Charlestown and is said to be "purely fanciful" (made up by a committe that didn't like the local-historical names). Winter Hill might still be a live lead.
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Old 01-29-2015, 02:14 PM   #10
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Re: Street Name Etymology

I believe Duxbury has all four seasonal streets.
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Old 01-30-2015, 11:29 AM   #11
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Re: Street Name Etymology

I seem to remember a fairly recently reading that Boston's Summer Street in Winter Street were named fancifully. That also seems like the most likely explanation, with other cities and towns merely following suit.
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Old 01-30-2015, 11:52 AM   #12
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Re: Street Name Etymology

[quote=FK4;224330]I seem to remember a fairly recently reading that Boston's Summer Street in Winter Street were named fancifully.
I'd love confirmation of that.
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Originally Posted by FK4 View Post
That also seems like the most likely explanation, with other cities and towns merely following suit.
If it really was fanciful (and not, say, literary, religious, or "Royal")...then you can definitely see the reason the effect was limited to (or greatest in) New England cities/towns that would be regularly doing business in Boston and thinking "Fancy. We gotta get somma that for our town"
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Old 01-30-2015, 11:58 AM   #13
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Re: Street Name Etymology

Here's another fun fact: the French word "Avenue" was not used in the USA until after its first use here by L'Enfant in his 1791 plan for the City of Washington.

If you see an Avenue anywhere, it is for-sure that the name dates to after 1791, and likely the road dates to after 1800 (time enough for people to see what an Avenue was and make some in their city. Most notably, NYC's Commissioner's Plan of 1811 which proposed Avenues for north-south access. (Central Park isn't laid out until 1853)

Boston's earliest Avenues appear to be Huntington Ave and Commonwealth Ave (both from the ~1870 era, right?)
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Old 01-30-2015, 11:59 AM   #14
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Re: Street Name Etymology

It appears that many street names were offficially changed in 1708, including King Street (now State), as well as Summer/Winter. I include much quoted material below, but it does not definitively state why the names were chosen. I stick by my theory that they werer purely fanciful and bore no relationship to names, royal houses or any particular relation of the area to those seasons. Of note, the Mass Bay Colony folks started up in Salem, which predates Boston - you will find that many of the downtown Salem street names are identical to Boston's (including Summer). Yould go back through all the towns in England that the Mass Bay Colony folks came from and see if there are Summer Sts. there - not a notable one in Dorchester, England, though.


https://archive.org/details/recordofstreetsabost

Quote:
*Winter street, B.; from 435 Washington street to 129 Tremont street;
previous to 1708 called, first, Blott's lane (for Robert Blott, who
came to Boston in 1632 and who owned the westerly corner of Winter
and Washington streets); later called Bannister's lane; named Winter
street, from Newbury (now Washington) street, " from Ellises
corner, nigh the upper end of Summer street, westward into the
Common," by the town. May 3,' 1708.

*Summer street, B. and So. B., 1708; from 428 Washington street to
Reserved channel near foot of L street; formerly from Wasliington
street to Federal street; from Washington street to the sea, 1683; at
some time previous to 1708 called the Mylne street; " from Doctor
Okes corner in Newbury [now Washington] Street passing by the
dwelling House of Capt. Timo. Clark, extending to ye Sea " named
Summer street by the town. May 3, 1708; called also Seven Star lane,
1758-73; from Atlantic avenue, southeasterly, nearly opposite junc-
tion of Summer street and Federal street, a private way was opened
in 1888 by the abutters, and named Summer street; Summer street
extended, from a point 80 feet northwesterly from and at right angles
to harbor line on westerly side of Fort Point channel, across Fort
Point channel in a southeasterly direction to junction of D and
Congress streets; thence over Congress street (widened) to "the
bulkhead line on the northerly side of Reserved channel, distant
fifty (50) feet at right angles from the center of L street bridge," by
decree of the Superiot Court filed March 19, 1897, under authority of
chapter 535 of the Acts of 1896; extended from Purchase street to
harbor line in Fort Point channel, April 8, 1897, under chapter 516
of the Acts of 1896. Vol. 31, pp. 20, 84; Vol. 19, p. 83. L 31, L 72,
L 76, L 90, L 285, L 305, L 306, L 320, L 364, L 828, L 829, L 830,
L 832, L 2819, L 2820, L 3936, L 4030, L 4031, L 4032, L 4033.
Per wikipedia entry on Milk Street:
Quote:
"The name "Milk Street" was given to the street in 1708 due to the milk market at the location."
Other history:
http://google.am/books?id=7UM98B3Yz9...search_r&cad=1
Quote:
There was a high way, sometimes called the high street, laid out from the head of the dock to Mr. Colburn's field, a little south of Elliot street, and beyond that was the 'foot way unto Samuel Wilbour's field next Roxbury.' On the east side of this high way Essex street was laid out, but had no particular name: so was it with Bedford street, which was afterwards called Pond-street, with reference to the watering place to which it led. Summer street and High street had the name of Mill street or lane, because they led to the widow Tuttle's mill. Milk-street was called the Fort street, it being the thorough fare from the high street to the works at Fort hill. State street is called the Water street in Mr. Wilson's deed. Court street as far as Market street had the name of Centry hill street. From the chapel burial ground north and from Market street west to the bottom of Sudbury street, the way was known as Sudbury street, doubtless in reference to the part of England from which many of the Boston people emigrated. In March 1640 it was ordered that the street from Mr. Hough's to the Centry hill should be kept open forever: this was School street and part of Beacon street. Winter, Boylston and Elliot streets were at that time lanes. Thefirst hasat some period borne the name of Blott's lane, from Robert Blott, the first proprietor of one of the eastern corners.

Hanover street north from the mill-creek, and also Marshall's lane, we think are described in the following provision: 1636, October. 'The sireete waye from the gates next James Everill's, toward the Mylne, is to runne straight along in an even line to John Pemberton's house, and to rainge betweene Thomas Marshall's house and Serjeant Savage's, and to bee within the street betweene payle and payle on each side, two poles broad.*

'A layne to goe from cove to cove, between Thomas Paynter and Thomas Marshall's^ one pole and a half between payle and payle.'

We can trace nothing of Hanover street farther north: in a deed from Thomas Clarke of Dorchester, merchant, to Christopher Stanley we find something like the original of Fleet and Tileston st. though it surprises us to see one of them 'thirty six foote broad unto the lowermost highway and from thence to low water marke thirty foote,'whereas the other 'going towards the mill hill,' was only twelve foote. This lowermost highway was Ann Street' upon the sea bank,' and before Walter Merry's at the North battery it was 16 ft. broad. It followed the shore, as we have supposed, to the mill creek inlet, and was completed in the following order.

'The land at the head of the cove, round about by John Glover's, Geo. Burden's, Hugh Gunnison's, Capt. W. Tyng's, Wm. Franklin's, Robert Nash's and eight foot to eastward of it, is high way—as also from the eastward side of the 8 feet, and round about by the corner of Edw. Bendall's brick house, and so by S. Cole's house, as also to E. Tyng's wharf

'- Pec. 4. 0,-dtred, a fence to he made hetween the two necks.

shall go a high way of twenty foot.'* Here E. Tyng had a house, yard, warehouse and brew-house.

There was also a passage way of seven foot, up from the creek near Bendall's to the lower part of Mr. Keayne's garden at his mud-wall house, in 1639, which probably answers to Wilson's lane or Exchange street. And there was a lane by the old meeting house: Henry Webb, a merchant who lived at the corner had the market place north, and on the east the old meeting house and the lane, which terminated at the Springate or high way by the spring.
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Old 01-30-2015, 12:01 PM   #15
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Re: Street Name Etymology

Quote:
Originally Posted by Arlington View Post
Here's another fun fact: the French word "Avenue" was not used in the USA until after its first used her by L'Enfant in his 1791 plan for the City of Washington.

If you see an Avenue anywhere, it is for-sure that the name dates to after 1791, and likely the road dates to after 1800 (time enough for people to see what an Avenue was and make some in their city. Most notably, NYC's Commissioner's Plan of 1811 which proposed Avenues for north-south access. (Central Park isn't laid out until 1853)
Im a firm believer in proper names for streets - IE street = city street or town way, road means connecting two places and named for destination, avenue should be a legit thoroughfare. Boston / New England is pretty good with the former division between street and road, but Boston fails epically with Ave - so many junky dead end streets that are "avenues" - terrible call!
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Old 01-30-2015, 12:09 PM   #16
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Re: Street Name Etymology

I live at the intersection of Prince St and Lafayette AVENUE in the North End. My wife and I joke about it all the time, because it's basically an alley. I have to imagine neither the name nor the designation is original.
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Old 01-30-2015, 12:57 PM   #17
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Re: Street Name Etymology

Apparently the AVE is from 1825, according to the street name record I posted above.
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Old 01-30-2015, 08:44 PM   #18
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Re: Street Name Etymology

Avenue can also mean a straight tree lined path. That may explain the odd situation of having small streets called avenues.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Avenue_(landscape)
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Old 01-31-2015, 07:50 AM   #19
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Re: Street Name Etymology

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Apparently [LaFayette] AVE is from 1825, according to the street name record I posted above.
Cool.
I suspect that the Marquis de LaFayette got an Avenue more because he was French than because the street was Avenue-ish. Not sure when Boulevard entered USA use, but it'd have been even less apt.
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Old 07-14-2015, 04:56 PM   #20
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Re: Street Name Etymology

By what process (and when) did our Boston/Camb/Arl/Lexington Massachusetts Avenue get its name?

Mass Ave has been an important road for longer than the word "Avenue" has been in common use (see upthread for Avenue's introduction and growth as a word between 1790 and 1850)

Mass Ave turns into "Great Road" when it reaches Concord. Strikes me that "Great Road" is a much more plausible "colonial" name for the whole thing. Either that or one of the many numbered turnpike names, with some parts said to have been part of Middlesex Turnpike

So have Boston/Camb/Arlington(then W. Cambridge)/Lexington always agreed on its name, or was "Mass Ave" overlaid on a patchwork of local names, like when Middlesex Turnpike's franchise expired? Or as a nod to DC's Mass Ave, perhaps upon return from the Civil War (that's when and how Arlington (town) got its name).
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