These Are The Most Common Street Names In America

Second is first, first is third, and third is second. That's how the most common U.S. street names stack up in a list compiled by the National League of Cities.

The U.S. Census Bureau's most recent geographical data was from 1993, but judging by the names on the list, there's a reason why they're so common: numbers and trees are easy. And of course, there's a reason why talking heads refer to Main Street as a ubiquitous economic force. In most places, it actually is.

Here's what NLC came up with:

  • Second (10,866)
  • Third (10,131)
  • First (9,898)
  • Fourth (9,190)
  • Park (8,926)
  • Fifth (8,186)
  • Main (7,644)
  • Sixth (7,283)
  • Oak (6,946)
  • Seventh (6,377)
  • Pine (6,170)
  • Maple (6,103)
  • Cedar (5,644)
  • Eighth (5,524)
  • Elm (5,233)
  • View (5,202)
  • Washington (4,974)
  • Ninth (4,908)
  • Lake (4,901)
  • Hill (4,877)

You can never go wrong with numbers and trees, but a historical figures are also common. George Washington is the only one on this list, but we're sure Presidents Richard Nixon and Barack Obama are patiently awaiting their turns to share that honor with the American Cinncinnatus.

So far, President Obama has had a boulevard, an avenue, and a way named after him in Florida and California, but most Obama namings have been meted out to schools, and even a mountain in Antigua. Perhaps the strangest use of the name of our nation's first black president came when the Israeli government approved the Obama settlement, northeast of Jerusalem.

Even though most U.S. locales stick to the standard first, second, etc. layout, different regions tend toward slightly more creative names. California cities are pretty fond of naming streets after Catholic saints (in Spanish, naturally), Cesar Chavez, and Fr. Junipero Serra. Roads named after Rev. Martin Luther King are also pretty common. Then you have places like Manhattan, which sometimes give two names to a roadway, like on 6th Avenue/Avenue of the Americas, and Worth Street/the Avenue of the Strongest. I haven't been to too many places in Colorado that don't have a street named for the state.

Santa Barbara, Calif. used to have the plain Jane numbered street naming system until an earthquake nearly destroyed the city in 1925. Reconstruction involved a Spaniterraneanification of the city's main streets, most of which were renamed with old colonial Spanish names, such as De la Guerra, Gutierrez, and Valerio. The eastern style wood frame look was largely abandoned for the Spanish white stucco/terra cotta roof look so common today. All of that to honor the people they stole the land from (who had stolen it from the Chumash Indians).

But most places stick with the tried and true, regardless of whether or not the signage causes traffic problems and congestion. So next time you're driving around another city (or, as usually happens to me, getting lost in another city), look around to see how the streets are named. Are the signs festooned with the names of local plants, animals and historical heroes, or have the powers that be given a collective bureaucratic shrug and gone with numbers, trees, and George Washington?

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