Inspiration: The Saintly Streets of Los Angeles: Autry National Center

Inspiration: The Saintly Streets of Los Angeles: Autry National Center

Beth Zeigler
Oct 3, 2008

100308street-01.jpgWe were listening to NPR the other day when Skye Rohde was talking about an exhibit at the Autry National Center called, All the Saints of The City of Angels. We were intrigued right away. Not just about the exhibit but the idea that so many of Los Angeles' streets are named after saints (103 to be exact). Of course this story got us reminiscing about every street we've ever lived on and we started wondering about the origins of street names. Find out what we discovered after the jump.

We can still, to this day, call to mind every street we ever lived on (and we've moved a lot). We're especially partial to our current street name, Valentine... we wonder what that story entails?! J. Michael Walker, telling NPR about the inspiration for this exhibit, said "If you can find the sacred in the world around you, rather than in something that's distant and apart from you, then maybe you can be better integrated to the world you live in." We love his sentiment and wanted to find out more about everyday street names. This is what we found out.

Wikipedia has written quite the thesis on the subject, and while we found out that street naming varies from cities to subdivisions but there are a few common elements that hold true.

These elements frequently include position on a city grid (1st, 2nd and Main Streets), environment (Oak, Pine and Cedar Streets), landmarks (Dodger Stadium can be accessed by Stadium Way), famous or important people (Martin Luther King Blvd.) and finally function. An example of this is La Cienega Avenue, which in Spanish means "The Swamp". This part of West Los Angeles used to be swampland. Nowadays, street names are decided by the companies that planned them. An example is Caruso Way in Glendale, named after Ric Caruso (the man responsible for The Grove and The Americana at Brand Boulevard).

While the NPR story had us wondering about the origins of our past street names, it also brought up an interesting point--that inspiration can be found right on the corner of your block.

What local places or "within reach" items inspire you?

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[Image from J. Michael Walker via All the Saints.com]

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