Why They’re Called Streets, Roads, Boulevards And More

As someone who recently moved, not only do I now have to learn my way around a new city and remember my zip code, but my address also went from being a Drive to an Avenue.

Which got me thinking – is there an actual difference between the roads we drive on, or do street namers pick what they’re called at random? It turns out that each of the terms used to name a road have their own separate distinctions.

  • Road: Roads run from two distant points. It’s basically just the connector from Point A to Point B.
  • Street: Say there’s a road connecting two towns. That would make streets the paved roads in each of those towns give buildings such as skyscrapers or houses the connection of being on the same street.
  • Avenue: An avenue will run north to south, and will usually be a straight road that emphasizes arrival at a landscape or architecture.
  • Boulevard: Boulevards are usually wider set streets with medians in the middle. It’s common for there to be landscaping both in the middle and on each side.
  • Court: A short street that has a cul de sac at its end.
  • Drive: A drive is a road that is usually private, and usually winding, as opposed to being straight.
  • Lane: Lanes tend to be streets that are more narrow and do not have a median.
  • Way: A way is a smaller street off the road of a town.

Other fun transportation facts:

  • There are over 4 million miles of roads and highways in the US.
  • The average American travels 13,476 miles each year.
  • There are over 3,873 Amtrak and Rail Transit stations in the US.
  • Americans spend an average of 160 hours in traffic each year.
  • Close to 50,000 new cars were sold to individual people (not businesses or the government) in 2014.
  • From 1975-2013, over 357,000 lives were saved from the use of safety belts and airbags.

Photo by Keenan Pepper