Could you be described as a first grader? The parent thereof? A map geek? A goofball? Someone who, when visiting the souvenir shop, compulsively searches for their name in the rack of miniature license plates? If so, read this article!
Once upon a time, I lived in Oakland, California, near a tidy stripe of pavement called John Street. After the birth of my son John, who took my middle name, we’d occasionally roll by. I’d holler “Hey, look, it’s John Street!”, and even though he couldn’t read the signs, giggles and chuckles would invariably ensue.
Shortly after our move to Santa Cruz, we found a John Street there, and a few weeks ago, another in San Francisco. Gosh, roads named John seemed pretty common! Upon that realization, the geography dork sitting on my shoulder had something to quantify: how many existed, altogether, and where, exactly?
A chug through the freely-accessible Open Street Map geographic database yielded the answer: within California, there were more than forty thoroughfares named John, and 1700-plus in the continental U.S. and Canada. Wow! After rolling their latitudes and longitudes up into something that Google Earth could understand, my son and I took a virtual field trip, a screenshot of which is below:
John so enjoyed flying cross-country to his streets that I decided to chart a bunch of other names, too. After all, only the most callous of mapmakers could deny Randolph a revel in his Roads, Mary a happy gawk whilst passing her Ways, and Christopher a corny encounter with his namesake Courts!
I’ve included the results below, organized alphabetically by gender, pinpointing the North American thoroughfares that share 2000-or-so common boy and girl first names. Click to view a list of entries, one for each moniker, viewable with Google Earth or Google Maps. Have fun!