Where the streets have one name

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The joke about Atlanta is that every street is named Peachtree.

Of course, this isn’t true. Only 71 streets in metro Atlanta are named Peachtree, and many of them intersect with one another, and while locals know which Peachtree they’re talking about, it isn’t always obvious to out-of-towners.

I drove to Atlanta the other day on business. I printed out my hotel reservation. It said my hotel was on Peachtree Street Northeast, but when I plugged the address into my GPS (you don’t want to drive in a city where 71 streets are named Peachtree unless you have a GPS with updated maps), it came up dry.

The hotel’s website listed the Peachtree Street address, too, so I called the front desk. The bored-sounding woman who answered said to look up the same number but search for Peachtree Center Avenue Northeast. (I’m guessing I wasn’t the first person to call for clarification.)

It turns out that Peachtree Street Northeast is one block over and runs parallel to Peachtree Center Avenue Northeast, and my hotel was smack in between them. Exit on one side of the lobby, and you’re on Peachtree Street. Exit on the other side, and you’re on Peachtree Center Avenue Northeast.

When locals talk about Peachtree, they’re usually talking about Peachtree Street, which is Atlanta’s main street. Peachtree Street, though, eventually becomes Peachtree Road, Peachtree Boulevard, Peachtree Industrial Boulevard and Peachtree Parkway — 5 names, same street.

Downtown, there’s also West Peachtree Street, which runs parallel to Peachtree Street and at one point crosses it.

What’s funny is the different Peachtrees weren’t named for an actual peach tree.

According to historians (OK, Wikipedia), Peachtree was named for a Creek settlement called Standing Pitch Tree. Supposedly, the Creek used the pitch, or sap, from pine trees in its ceremonies. “Pitch tree” didn’t sound right to European settlers, so they called it “peach tree.”

Which is interesting but isn’t going to help me get back to the interstate.

29 thoughts on “Where the streets have one name

  1. It’s funny and reminded me of the time when I lived in Soviet Union, every other street was named after Lenin…..It was Lenin street, Lenin boulevard, Lenin Plaza, well you get the idea, and it was the same in every town from Moscow to the littlest village …., but we always knew if we needed to find the center of the unknown town we should look for Lenin Street.

    1. Hi, Ariana! You know, there’s probably a joke in here somewhere about how Atlanta, Georgia, is like Soviet Georgia, but I don’t think folks in Atlanta would find it amusing, at all.

  2. Driving in downtown Atlanta is a living hell, no matter what the streets are named. And what is it with one street changing names five times as you drive along? Athens (60 mi east of Atl) has streets that do that, too. It’s so annoying trying to explain this to out-of-towners.

    1. Call me old-fashioned, but I always liked numbered streets going one direction and named avenues going the other direction, in a grid. (I like Athens. When I was there for a meeting a couple years ago, I had time to kill, so I walked around campus, and I kept thinking, “I wonder if the folks from the B-52s/REM ever walked here?”)

  3. I don’t know the names of any of the streets in the town where I grew up because – I grew up there. I knew where everything was. Maybe native Atlantans are the same way.

  4. Crazy urban planners.

    I used to live in Kitchener-Waterloo in Ontario. Maybe 200,000 people at most. The streets King and Weber (which were continuous) crossed three times. So when someone said, “It’s at the corner of King and Weber,” it was the starting point of bad directions.

  5. In Saint John, there are four separate and distinct areas of the city: the North End, the South End, the East Side and the West Side. There are two “Charlotte Streets”, two “Duke Streets”, two “Germain Streets”, two “King Streets”, two “Queen Streets”, and two “Queen Squares” parks (one South and one West of each). There are two “Main Streets”, and two “Victoria Streets”, one West and one North. We have “Champlain Street” on the West Side, and “Champlain Dr.” on the East Side. There’s a street that starts as “Duke Street West”, becomes “Lancaster Avenue”, then “Main Street West”, then “Manawagonish Avenue”, and finally “Highway 100”.

    To make things even more confusing, the uptown area is crisscrossed with one-way streets!

    Wendy

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