Skip to main content

My grandmother was the only resident of her small, dirt road. When the town updated all the street names for the official 911 address it asked if she wanted to live on a “Way” or a “Court.” She requested they rename it “Path.” The address is still #1 ____ Path.

Most towns are a bit more strict. In fact, there are agreed-upon guidelines for most of the ways we name our roads, whether it be “Boulevard,” “Terrace,” or “Place.” And knowing the differences can arm you with some helpful knowledge.

Imagine you aren’t getting a phone signal and a street sign has fallen down. If the address you’re trying to find is on a “Court” and you know that a Court ends in a cul-de-sac, you can make a good guess whether you’re in the right place.

Street signs for the perpendicular 48th street and Avenue of the Americas in Manhattan
Manhattan street sign | Luna Marina via iStockPhoto

The first thing to know is that many cities are grids made up of Streets and Avenues running at a perpendicular angle to one another. Boulevards and Drives are different types of city streets that often interrupt this grid for specific reasons. Many of the other types of roads are limited to residential areas, but many of them still have a unique definition. Here’s the list:

RoadRd.The most basic name for any vehicular travel way that connects two points.
StreetSt.A Street is a type of Road with buildings on both sides. In most towns they run perpendicular to the avenues.
AvenueAve.The other half of the traditional Street/Avenue grid can have buildings or trees and vegetation on either side, so they often border the longer end of city blocks.
BoulevardBlvd.Wide city street with trees and vegetation on both sides, and usually a median down the center.
LaneLn.Narrow road, often in a rural area.
DriveDr.Winding road with a route shaped by natural features such as ponds or mountains.
TerraceTer.A street, often in a residential area, that runs along the top of a hill or other slope.
PlacePl.A dead end, often in a residential neighborhood.
CourtCt.Ends in a circle or loop (often called a cul-de-sac).
WayA small side street, often in a residential area.
AlleyNarrow passage between buildings or yards

Next, find out the surprisingly simple way the Eisenhower Interstate System is named or see the various road types demonstrated in the video below: