Saturday, December 06, 2008

Little Differences - Street Names / California

I had to wait some hours for the Greyhound Bus back to San Francisco. The town I stayed in was called Merced and although it wasn't close to the Mexican border it was almost an Spanish town with all signs written in English and Spanish.
But instead of choosing important sounding street names like 'Avenida 5 de Mayo" the founders of the city haven't been very creative. The streets in one direction were called 1st Street, 2nd Street, 3 Street etc. and in the other direction A-Street, B-Street, C-Street etc.

It took my a while to understand that the phrase '16th and V' on my bus ticket was nothing less than a precise description of the corner of 16th Street and V-Street.
Really straight-forward.

Well, in Germany the city government tries to be innovative all the time when it comes to street names - unfortunately. In one area of the city all streets are named after flowers and in the next area it is fairy tale names (no kidding).
I remember having a hard time several years ago in my old town of Bayreuth. The address I was heading to was named after a fairy tale but that was all I remembered. All of a sudden I was surrounded by Schneewittchenweg, Ruebezahlstrasse or Sterntalerstrasse. I didn't dare to ask anyone because I thought it would be ridiculous to ask something like 'Could you please give me some names of fairy tales? I forgot the address of my physician.'.
On the other hand, as a man I am not allowed to admit that I am lost anyway.

As far as I remember I was late for my assignment and Snowy White was to blame.
Back in 1997 I would have been glad to have a sharp '16th and V' instead of 'make a left on Ebony and Ivory after you passed Cinderella'.

@Rainer: I am talking about the fairy tale address of the old weird physician that gave us the scuba diving consultation. Do you remember? I think he had his office in the Ruebezahlweg and that was for a reason.

To be complete I have to add that I don't like the fact that the US Americans use the house numbers sometimes twice - e.g. '25 S Main Street' and '25 N Main Street'. What does a poor little German tourist know about dividing a street into North and South? Nothing! If you want to keep me busy and walking for hours, that's the way to do it.


  1. Mexicans love to use foreign names (they can't even pronounce) for their streets, so we have Lafontaine (pronounced literally), Mazaryk (we have no words ending in "k" in spanish so people say Mazaryt or just Mazary), Moliere (pronounced literally, french will laugh so much) and there is one called Alejandro Dumas, its the funniest street for me cause walking by it with an american friend he was laughing so much cause for him Dumas sounds like "dum ass", so I am glad our street names are not A,B,C, it wouldn't be funny. Cel

  2. We had a interesting discussion about street names and house numbers in project:glimpse. The good thing of the boring American system is that it´s really hard to get lost.

  3. It is really hard in Washington State, around Seattle, because the streets are just numbers. They are like, "turn left on 241, right on 43, and then another left on 68." So hard to remember!

  4. i wonder if there is an address "2020 vision Street"